Dallas Funny Car notebook

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 LONE STAR NATIONALS FUNNY CAR NOTEBOOK *Too early: Chuck Etchells has climbed to third in the NHRA Winston point standings in the Kendall Dodge Avenger, but he thinks...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761

LONE STAR NATIONALS FUNNY CAR NOTEBOOK *Too early: Chuck Etchells has climbed to third in the NHRA Winston point standings in the Kendall Dodge Avenger, but he thinks it's too early in the season to keep a keen eye on the points. "I think it's great, but I don't look at the points right now except for who's on top," Etchells said. "Numbers three through eight are so bunched up that anything can happen." Indeed. Etchells was third with 264 points after five races. Eighth-place Dean Skuza was just 22 points behind in the Matco Tools Dodge Avenger. *Save those discs: Chuck Etchells sometimes tested the day after an NHRA national event at the race site, taking advantage of good conditions and track preparation by the NHRA Safety Safari. But he hasn't tested after any event this season due to the scarcity of a key racing component. "The main reason we have done that has been the clutch-disc situation," Etchells said. "We've got discs that we like, and we don't want to go through them in testing. The supply of good discs is thin for everybody." Etchells is scheduled to compete in two match races this summer. Some teams, including Etchells', use match races to earn extra money and test new setups on hot, slippery tracks. *Media mogul: Dynamic NHRA Winston Funny Car champion John Force just keeps attracting more and more media coverage, and some of it is coming from non-motorsports publications. A writer from music magazine Rolling Stone attended his first drag race at the Winston Invitational earlier this month at Rockingham, N.C., hanging out with Force for a story to be published in the magazine this summer. Force also is featured prominently in the new music video by country superstar Travis Tritt. The video for the song, "She's Going Home with Me," was scheduled to debut April 16 on Country Music Television. A longtime drag racing fan, Tritt attended Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School at Pomona Raceway in November 1996 and January 1997 to earn his NHRA Super Comp competition license. Force and Tritt will star in a one-hour television special, "Burning Thunder," airing at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) May 18 on The Nashville Network. The show, which directly precedes live coverage of the Mopar Parts Nationals, also will feature past and present NHRA stars such as Kenny Bernstein, Don "The Snake" Prudhomme, "Big Daddy" Don Garlits, Warren and Kurt Johnson, Eddie Hill and his wife, Ercie, and Angelle Seeling. *Back at it: John Force provided his luxury bus to transport Funny Car driver Al Hofmann home from the hospital after Hofmann suffered serious injuries in March at the Mac Tools Gatornationals, but that gesture caused Hofmann to declare only a temporary cease-fire in his war of words with Force. "I appreciate what John did for me, and I told him I'd lay off of him for three hours," Hofmann said. "Time's up." Hofmann and Force exchanged verbal jabs all last spring while Force laid the groundwork for a record-breaking Funny Car season. Hofmann contended that the two-car team of Force and Tony Pedregon gave Force an unfair advantage, a claim he continues to make. "I've got nothing personally against John, but I think he's taken it too far," Hofmann said. "He's spread himself too thin. There are 15 cars that can beat him on race day in this deal, not two or three like before. If he makes a mistake in the early rounds, he's going to lose." *Handicapping: The weather at Texas Motorplex in May could be very different than conditions encountered by drivers at the Dallas Nationals in the fall, but a look at the history of that event still indicates there are a few favorites for victory at the Lone Star Nationals. Cruz Pedregon has two victories in three final rounds at Texas Motorplex since 1992, while John Force has one win in three final rounds since 1992. Chuck Etchells has one victory in two final rounds since 1993. *Performance prediction: The NHRA elapsed-time and speed records for Funny Car could be threatened at the Lone Star Nationals, Chuck Etchells said. "I think you'll see a couple 4.80's and for sure some cars over 310 mph," Etchells said. John Force holds the elapsed-time national record of 4.889 seconds, while Whit Bazemore holds the speed national record of 313.04 mph. *Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 3 p.m. May 2 and continues at 7 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. May 3. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. May 4. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 10 a.m. May 1. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the Lone Star Nationals. Call Texas Motorplex at (800) 668-6775. Tickets also are available at Ticketmaster outlets. Call Ticketmaster Dallas at (214) 373-8000. *On TV: The Nashville Network (TNN) will televise 90 minutes of live, final-round competition from the Lone Star Nationals at 4:30 p.m. (CDT) May 4. TNN also will show one hour of live, first-round racing during its "NHRA Today" show at 11 a.m. (CDT) May 4. *On the Web: The NHRA home page on the World Wide Web at http://www.goracing.com/nhra/ offers more information about NHRA Winston Drag Racing, including qualifying and eliminations results, news, point standings, statistics and driver biographies. -30-

Jack Durbin indy500@freenet.tlh.fl.us Motorsport News International jackd@motorsport.com (Moderators for "rec.autos.sport.info") Homepage http://www.freenet.tlh.fl.us/users/indy500/index.html

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kenny Bernstein , Kurt Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Al Hofmann , Dean Skuza , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Chuck Etchells , Cruz Pedregon , Don Garlits , Frank Hawley