Houston-Cristen Powell interview (TOP FUEL)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR POWELL SHOWING SHE BELONGS IN TOP FUEL BAYTOWN, Texas -- Cristen Powell can only chuckle when she thinks about those who doubted her move into a...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761

HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR POWELL SHOWING SHE BELONGS IN TOP FUEL

BAYTOWN, Texas -- Cristen Powell can only chuckle when she thinks about those who doubted her move into a Top Fuel dragster this season.

Powell, a 17-year-old high school senior from Portland, Ore., moved to drag racing's quickest and fastest category this year in the Royal Purple Motor Oil Dragster owned by Funny Car driver Jim Epler. She raced for part of 1995 and all of 1996 in a Federal-Mogul Dragster owned by her father, Casey Powell.

"A lot of people said I shouldn't do this," the affable Powell said. "A lot of people told my dad that he shouldn't do this. And he said, 'Nope, she's ready.' Now they're the ones who say, 'Yeah, I knew she could do it all the time.'"

She certainly can. Powell has qualified for two of three races and is 13th in the NHRA Winston point standings entering the 10th annual, $1,631,200 Slick 50 Nationals presented by Western Auto, March 20-23 at Houston Raceway Park. The race is the fourth event of the 22-event, $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series in 1997.

Powell has experienced the highs and lows of Top Fuel racing in a hurry. She qualified seventh in her debut at the Chief Auto Parts Winternationals and lost a close quarterfinal to Kenny Bernstein. But then she failed to qualify at the next event, the ATSCO Nationals.

That's quite a range of emotions for any driver, but it's even tougher for someone who still must finish homework before class on Monday. But Powell has shown remarkable poise for her age.

"You constantly have to pinch yourself to see if you're dreaming," Powell said. "I think Top Fuel isn't so different than the other classes. I don't think about the money part of it. I just do my routine, which was the same as it was in the other car."

*Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 3 p.m. March 21 and continues at 7 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. March 22. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. March 23. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 10 a.m. March 20.

*Tickets: Tickets are available for the Slick 50 Nationals. Call Houston Raceway Park at (281) 383-2666 or check the track's World Wide Web site at http://www.houstonraceway.com for ticket information. Tickets also can be purchased from Ticketmaster. To order through Ticketmaster, call (713) 629-3700.

*On TV: ESPN2 will televise two hours of live, final-round competition from the Slick 50 Nationals at 4 p.m. (CST) March 23. ESPN2 also will televise Friday-night qualifying with a two-hour, same-day show starting at 11:30 p.m. (CST) March 21. All-day, live coverage of final eliminations will be shown on pay-per-view from 10:30-6 p.m. (CST) March 23. The telecast costs $14.95. Viewers must order the programming through their satellite or cable provider.

*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-

Jack Durbin indy500@freenet.tlh.fl.us Motorsport News International jackd@motorsport.com (Moderators for "rec.autos.sport.info") Homepage http://www.freenet.tlh.fl.us/users/indy500/index.html

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Epler , Cristen Powell