RICK SANTOS ROAD TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP STARTED AT THE TEXAS MOTORPLEX WITH FIRST WIN OF 1997 ENNIS, Texas --- The 1997 Lone Star Nationals at the Texas Motorplex brought the Jack O'Bannon team their second career national win and their first win of 1997. Their switch to the PSI blower aided them in improving their team and put them on the road to their first National Championship in the Federal-Mogul Dragster category.
"We used the PSI blower with the S & S team and we felt that it was a better supercharger," said Rick Santos, driver of the Oakwood Homes Federal-Mogul Dragster. "We had been talking to crew chief Norm Grimes about changing. We didn't think we were in the running for the championship at that point and felt that we needed to do something to improve our performance. We felt like changing to the PSI blower would be a learning process and take a while. We got real lucky right away. It was a learning curve from there, but it became a turning point for the team. We improved from that point on."
The Jack O'Bannon team with driver Rick Santos won its first national event at the Winston Finals in Pomona in 1996. The win at the Texas Motorplex was only their second win since Jack O'Bannon racing and S & S joined forces in 1996.
The decision to change to the PSI blower was one crew chief Norm Grimes actually made on his way to Texas. He stopped in Phoenix and decided to put on the PSI blower. After the Texas win, many competitors started changing to the PSI blower. The team thought if they continued on with everything the same, they would only be as good as the others. Running with the PSI blower would maybe give them an edge.
It proved to be a good decision as the team went on to win national events at Seattle (Wash.) International Raceway and Heartland Park Topeka (Kan.). They also won division events at Speedworld (Ariz.) Motorplex and Firebird (Ariz.) International Raceway on their way to the 1997 National Championship.
Santos has competed at the Texas Motorplex three times in his career. He has one win and one runner-up finish.
"Dallas has had some hot weather lately," said Santos. "The track is not deal good when it's hot. The track is concrete all the way down. Most tracks are only concrete for 300 feet. When an asphalt track gets hot it gets greasier, so the traction can be real good at Texas because of the concrete. The track also has a narrow groove compared to most."
Last year, Santos qualified third. He defeated Mike Bowers in the first round with an elapsed time of 5.63. He defeated Frank Pedregon in round two eliminations with an elapsed time of 5.609 over Pedregon's 5.643. In the semi-finals, he defeated 1996 National Champion Bobby Taylor with an elapsed time of 5.62 over Taylor's 5.69. In the final, Santos defeated Michael Gunderson who had a red light foul. Santos had an elapsed time of 5.62.