FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 MAC TOOLS GATORNATIONALS PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE NOTEBOOK --Future plans: Dave Schultz will race the same Sunoco Suzuki at the Mac Tools Gatornationals that he used at...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761
MAC TOOLS GATORNATIONALS PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE NOTEBOOK
--Future plans: Dave Schultz will race the same Sunoco Suzuki at the Mac Tools Gatornationals that he used at the end of 1996. But he has big plans for the middle of this season.
Schultz said he will unveil two new bikes during the middle of the 14-race season. The bikes will feature many refinements and changes to current chassis thinking.
Schultz's move parallels that of Pro Stock driver Warren Johnson, a veteran, multi-time NHRA Winston champion who unveiled a radical new chassis at the ATSCO Nationals in late February at Phoenix.
"I've worked really hard all winter long for the middle of the season," Schultz said. "Warren Johnson has been really serious about figuring this chassis out. That was exactly the way I went into this winter.
"There's so much to be changed. We're really tweaking the whole motorcycle."
--No test is best: Many NHRA teams spend hours testing during the offseason, honing new engines and chassis for the upcoming season.
Dave Schultz takes a different approach. He may make two test passes shortly before the Mac Tools Gatornationals, his only test runs of the winter on the Sunoco Suzuki.
"Unless I have a brand-new bike, I normally don't test," Schultz said. "I tend to come out with more fire and venom when I haven't been on my bike in a long time.
"When I'm racing every weekend and testing in between, there's a point where I tend not to be as sensitive to the bike."
--A new Star: Joey Bartone's Suzuki GSXR will be sponsored by Star Performance Parts this season.
Bartone, from St. James, N.Y., finished 12th in the NHRA Winston point standings as an unsponsored rookie last year. Star formerly sponsored the bike of teammates John Myers and Angelle Seeling, but those riders will be sponsored by Close Call Phone Card this year.
"Our team will have a new look this year because of our sponsorship agreement with Close Call, but we still wanted a bike out there with the Star colors," said Jackie Bryce, co-owner of Star Performance. "Joey did so well last year in his rookie season that he was a natural choice for us. I expect that he'll do even better this year."
Bartone will use a Star engine in 1997. He also will receive technical and tuning help from the Close Call team and its owners, George and Jackie Bryce.
Bartone is the brother of 1996 NHRA Winston Top Alcohol Funny Car champion Tony Bartone and Federal-Mogul Dragster driver Michael Bartone.
--Together again: Stephanie Reaves and Dave Schultz have reached agreement on a lease program for the 1997 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.
Reaves will ride a Schultz/Cope-prepared Suzuki at all 14 Pro Stock Motorcycle events.
"I'm very happy to be teaming with Dave again this year," Reaves said. "We worked very well together in 1996, and we are excited to get going with the 1997 season. I feel good about the progress I made last year, and that will allow me to work more closely with Dave this year on engine and chassis development.
Reaves, from Gorham, Maine, finished 20th in the NHRA Winston standings as a rookie last season despite racing in just six of 12 events.
--His own man: Greg Underdahl, half of the NCN Communications team in the Pro Stock Motorcycle through 1995 and 1996, has split with rider and partner Rick Ward and will race his own bike in 1997.
"The split was completely amicable," Underdahl said. "I'd been wanting to ride for months, and toward the end of last year, Rick said he wanted to concentrate on his engine-building business."
Underdahl plans to compete in all 14 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle races.
--Performance prediction: The NHRA elapsed-time national record -- 7.344 seconds by Matt Hines -- will tumble quickly at the Mac Tools Gatornationals if Dave Schultz's performance prediction comes true.
"With average Gainesville weather, I'd be really surprised if the bikes don't go 7.25 or 7.27," Schultz said. "I feel like it's possible."
--Wow: If Dave Schultz's performance prediction for the Mac Tools Gatornationals sounds stunning, his guess at the low elapsed time for the bikes this season is jaw-dropping.
"Properly funded and properly focused, one of the teams should be able to run in the teens toward the end of the year," Schultz said.
--Schedule: Winston pro qualifying starts at 11 a.m. March 7 and continues at 3 p.m. that day. Qualifying ends with sessions at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. March 8. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. March 9. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 8 a.m. March 6.
--Tickets: Tickets are available for the Mac Tools Gatornationals. Call NHRA Ticket Information at (800) 884-6472 for ticket information.
--On TV: The Nashville Network (TNN) will televise 90 minutes of live, final-round competition from the Mac Tools Gatornationals at 4:30 p.m. (EST) March 9. TNN also will show one hour of live, first-round racing during its "NHRA Today" show at 11 a.m. (EST) March 9.
--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-
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