ENGLISHTOWN - Race Story by Larry Sullivan ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. - SUMMIT FastNews - This race may go down in the books as the Speed Record Nationals, John Force and Joe Amato playing tug-of-war with the NHRA speed record. Somehow, they also ...
ENGLISHTOWN - Race Story
by Larry Sullivan
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. - SUMMIT FastNews - This race may go down in the books as the Speed Record Nationals, John Force and Joe Amato playing tug-of-war with the NHRA speed record. Somehow, they also managed to win Top Fuel and Funny Car at the 29th annual NHRA Mopar Parts Nationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, and three of the four Professional categories contested today featured first-time '98 winners.
Force opened the speed record tussle by posting a speed of 321.27 mph in the first round of eliminations, fast enough to be within one percent of the 323.35 mph he posted during qualifying and establish the 323 mph speed as a national record.
In the first round of eliminations, Amato was clocked at 321.81 mph, so when he posted a speed of 323.50 mph in the second round of eliminations, his 323 became the speed record.
In the final round of eliminations, Force raced Jim Epler, who smoked the tires. Force was timed at 4.845 seconds, with a top speed of 323.89 mph, taking the speed record back from Amato and making this the first time in NHRA history that the overall national speed record has been held by a Funny Car instead of a Top Fuel dragster.
Afterward, Force was more enthusiastic about earning his first event win of the '98 season, "I'm just happy to win. The other deal (the speed record) is just kind of a blessing...I don't know what it is, destiny, it just does it.
"I don't want to get in that groove of losing. Like fourteen bridesmaids, I don't like being in four or five (final) rounds and losing."
The win was Force's first in five final round appearances in the '98 season, the 68th in 105 final round appearances in his career.
Amato faced Winston points leader Cory McClenathan in the final round of Top Fuel eliminations and the race was a close one, Amato's 4.614 second elapsed time at 319.90 mph earning the win against McClenathan's 4.660 at 314.39 mph.
Like Force, Amato was pleased with the event title and downplayed the importance of the speed record, "That's just bragging rights. The more important point is to win the races, get the elapsed time (record) and get the points. We all like to go fast, but we want to win."
The win was Amato's 2nd in 3 final round appearances in '98, the 43rd in 85 final rounds in his career. His 323.50 mph speed stands as the Top Fuel national record.
Jeg Coughlin won his second victory in three career final round appearances in Pro Stock, his first win of the '98 season, by running a 6.932 second elapsed time at 198.52 mph to defeat a redlighting Mike Edwards.
In Pro Stock Bike, Angelle Seeling defeated Greg Underdahl to earn her first win of the '98 season. Seeling posted an elapsed time of 7.286 seconds at 180.72 mph against Underdahl's 7.394 at 181.59 mph.
In competition Saturday, Kurt Johnson won the Pro Stock Challenge and Larry Kopp won in Pro Stock Truck.
In the Sportsman categories, Darrell Russell won a close victory over Jay Payne in Federal-Mogul Dragster, Frank Manzo defeated arch-rival Bob Newberry in Federal-Mogul Funny Car, Don Eckel bested Frank Aragona in Comp Eliminator, Brian Tilburg won over Scotty Richardson in Super Stock, Bob Letellier prevailed over George Mirza in Stock Eliminator, Kent Hanley earned the honors against Bob Kodadek in Super Comp, and Brian Folk triumphed over Raymond Balian in Super Gas.
The estimated four-day attendance was 104,800.
Results provided by the FastNews Network, courtesy of Summit Racing Equipment ** http://www.summitracing.com/ **