FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 MOPAR PARTS NATIONALS PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK *Watch out: The drag racing world is still buzzing over the milestone and national records recorded by Warren Johnson at the ...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761
MOPAR PARTS NATIONALS PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK *Watch out: The drag racing world is still buzzing over the milestone and national records recorded by Warren Johnson at the rain- delayed Pennzoil Nationals presented by Trak Auto, April 24-27 at Richmond, Va. Johnson made the first 200-mph Pro Stock pass in NHRA history, 200.13 mph, and earned $25,000 for becoming the first member of the NHRA Speed-Pro 200-mph Pro Stock Club. On the same qualifying pass, he became the first NHRA Pro Stock driver in the 6.80-second range with a time of 6.894 seconds. He improved on those NHRA national records with a run of 6.883, 200.53 in the GM Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird during a first-round victory over Mike Thomas. Those numbers are mind-boggling, but Tom Martino thinks Johnson will reset those national records during the Mopar Parts Nationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. A Pro Stock driver also will need to make a pass of 6.97 seconds or quicker to make the field at the Mopar Parts Nationals, Martino said. The quickest field in NHRA history was recorded at the Pennzoil Nationals, as Thomas was No. 16 at 6.983. Martino has good reason to make brash predictions about performance at Englishtown. "I went testing there recently with a spare motor and went 6.98 at 197," Martino said. "That motor is three-hundredths slower than mine, and the track was not NHRA-prepared. Warren will reset the national record there." *Challenge: Warren Johnson is the No. 1 seed for the fourth consecutive year for the 13th annual DuPont Automotive Finishes Pro Stock Challenge, a special event for NHRA Pro Stock drivers May 17 during the Mopar Parts Nationals. A purse of $76,000 is available for the eight drivers competing in the Challenge. The winner will earn $50,000. Any driver who wins the Challenge and the Mopar Parts Nationals on May 19 will earn a $50,000 bonus from NHRA. The Challenge runner-up will earn $10,000. The two semifinalists will receive $3,000 each, an the four first-round finishers will earn $2,500 apiece. The DuPont Automotive Finishes Pro Stock Challenge showcases the eight best Pro Stock qualifiers in NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series national events since last year's Challenge. Drivers accumulated points during the 19 events between last year's Mopar Parts Nationals and this year's event. *On the outside: It's never easy for drivers who failed to qualify for the DuPont Pro Stock Challenge to watch their colleagues race for a $50,000 winner's prize. But it's even harder for Tom Martino because the special event takes place at his home track. Martino, from Farmingdale, N.J., finished 11th in the DuPont Pro Stock Challenge point standings in the MaMa Rosa's Pizza Pontiac Firebird. He was 80 points behind eighth and final qualifier Mike Edwards. "I hate when there is one of those special things that you should be in, and I'm not in it," Martino said. "It's no one's fault but my own. I don't think I need any more motivation to get in next year. It already bothers me." *Catching up: The $30,000 winner's purse that Tom Martino and his team earned for winning the Slick 50 Nationals presented by Western Auto helped pay a few bills, which pile up quickly in the expensive world of Pro Stock. But Martino isn't shopping for a mansion yet. "Winning, forget about the financial part of it, because I'm way behind the 8-ball before that," Martino said with a laugh. "Now I can see the 8-ball. I'm getting the cue ball out of the pocket. I'm getting ready to hit the 8-ball." *Good training: Tom Martino raced in Competition, a Federal-Mogul sportsman category, before moving to Pro Stock in 1996. The experience he gained while racing in Comp helped to accelerate his learning curve in Pro Stock last year, as he finished eighth in the NHRA Winston point standings. "In Comp, we always qualified," Martino said. "We had to go five rounds. We're used to what the track does. My notes from what the track did in the past are the same as now." *Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 3 p.m. May 16 and continues at 7 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. May 17. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. May 18. DuPont Automotive Finishes Pro Stock Challenge rounds are scheduled for 1 p.m., 3:45 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. May 17. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 10 a.m. May 15. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the Mopar Parts Nationals. Call Old Bridge Township Raceway Park at (908) 446-7800. Tickets also are available at Ticketmaster outlets. Call Ticketmaster at (212) 307-7171, (201) 507-8900, (914) 454-3388 or (516) 888-9000. *On TV: The Nashville Network (TNN) will televise 90 minutes of live, final-round competition from the Mopar Parts Nationals at 4:30 p.m. (EDT) May 18. TNN also will show one hour of live, first-round racing during its "NHRA Today" show at 11 a.m. May 18. TNN will show one hour of live, final-round competition from the DuPont Automotive Finishes Pro Stock Challenge at 5 p.m. May 17. *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- 5/6/97-EJ4-072
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