ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. - The gut check starts here. NHRA teams will have a three week character test, beginning at one of the most historic events in the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series -- the 31st annual Matco Tools Spring SuperNationals presented by...
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. - The gut check starts here. NHRA teams will have a three week character test, beginning at one of the most historic events in the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series -- the 31st annual Matco Tools Spring SuperNationals presented by Racing Champions, May 18-21, at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, located just minutes south of metropolitan New York.
While the once popular mid-season 'West Coast Swing' challenged racers and often separated contenders for Winston championships during back-to-back-to-back events in Denver, Sonoma, Calif. and Seattle, the newest grueling test will provide an early season barometer to those who think they have what it takes to be No. 1.
During the three week run, NHRA teams will cover some 2,493 miles, racing in three separate regions of the U.S. Following Englishtown, N.J., team transporters will race south to Texas for a stop in Dallas. After finishing up the Memorial Day weekend run at the Texas Motorplex, teams will travel north for the final stop of the trio, Chicago's Route 66 Raceway. While the temptation to look ahead will be great, teams will need to focus on the task at hand. Without success at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, one of the fastest tracks on the NHRA circuit, teams will have no momentum heading into the crucial stretch.
Joe Amato, John Force, Richie Stevens and Angelle Seeling are the defending winners of the $2 million race, the eighth of 23 events in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.
Amato, from Exeter, Pa., defeated Doug Herbert for the Top Fuel win here last season, and set top speed for the event at 324.05 mph in his Dynomax dragster. Heavy favorite Amato earned victories in three of the last four events here. Six of the 55-year-old driver's 50 career wins have come at the New Jersey quarter-mile. Kenny Bernstein heads Amato's list of rivals. Other top threats include defending Winston champion Tony Schumacher and two-time series champ Gary Scelzi.
Force, from Yorba Linda, Calif., used a holeshot start to oust rival Cruz Pedregon in a competitive Funny Car final here last year. Force, a four-time winner at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, is chasing history this season as he nears the all-time NHRA win record held by Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden (85 wins) as well as his 10th NHRA Winston championship, also a record. While he races toward NHRA immortality, Funny Car newcomer Jerry Toliver, driver of the WWF Racing Camaro, is chasing his first Winston championship. Other top Funny Car favorites include Matco Tools Dodge Avenger driver Dean Skuza, Ron Capps, Whit Bazemore and Al Hofmann. Stevens, from New Orleans, defeated local favorite Tom Martino for the Pro Stock victory in a very close battle between Pontiac Firebirds. While Farmingdale, N.J.'s Martino hopes for a final round return at his home track, leading championship chasers Jeg Coughlin, the defending $50,000 Holley Pro Stock Dominator Duel winner, five-time series champ Warren Johnson, Mark Pawuk and Ron Krisher also will be seeking winning results at this NHRA classic.
Seeling, from New Orleans, outran surprise finalist and fellow Suzuki rider Greg Underdahl for the Pro Stock Motorcycle victory. Seeling, already a winner this season at Las Vegas, hopes to return to the winner's circle on her Team Winston Suzuki. However, current Winston points leader Tony Mullen and Gainesville, Fla. winner Dave Schultz have other plans. Three-time defending Pro Stock Motorcycle series champion Matt Hines is always a top contender, as he won this event in 1997.