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MATCO TOOLS SUPERNATIONALS PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK *Different scene: It's taken awhile, but Mark Osborne is getting used to being a hired gun. Osborne owned his Pro Stock team when he competed in the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series from 1993-1996 and was an integral part of every detail of the team. He was hired to drive by car owner Dick Sherman last month. "It's hard for me," Osborne said. "I have a business, and me and my wife call the shots. I feel guilty when I leave for the airport after a race, and the guys are still loading up. I always used to help pack up. "I like it better this way because I don't have to worry about the truck and trailer on the road, and I don't have to worry about sending all sorts of stuff through UPS." *New face: Jeg Coughlin Jr. will join his brother, Troy, as a Pro Stock driver for the last three races this season. Federal-Mogul sportsman series standout Jeg Coughlin will race at this event in the Jeg's Performance Parts Oldsmobile Cutlass formerly driven by Troy Coughlin, now in a Pontiac Firebird. Jeg was scheduled to make his Pro Stock debut at the Revell Nationals, Oct. 16-19 at Dallas. The Coughlin brothers will use engines built by Richard Maskin, Jim Yates' former crew chief recently hired by the Coughlins. Troy Coughlin used engines built by Warren Johnson this season until the Sears Craftsman Nationals last month at Topeka, Kan. Jeg Coughlin has won national events this season in Competition, Super Stock, and Stock and is the leading contender for the Federal-Mogul championship in Comp and Super Stock. *Sharp on the line: Darrell Alderman may be 13th in the point standings this season in the Team Mopar Dodge Avenger, but he has lost none of the superb driving skills that helped him win three NHRA Winston championships between 1990-94. Alderman had the best average reaction time, .446 seconds, among NHRA Pro Stock drivers during the first 19 events this season. A .400 reaction time to the starting light is perfect. *Performance prediction: Pro Stock driver Mark Osborne thinks the 200-mph barrier could be scaled for just the second time if cool weather descends upon Houston during this event. "I think you'll see someone at about 6.92 at 199 or 200," Osborne said of possible times and speeds at this event. Warren Johnson became the only NHRA Pro Stock driver to break 200 with a pass of 200.13 at the Pennzoil Nationals presented by Trak Auto in April at Richmond, Va. Johnson improved upon that speed at that event with a 200.53 run, an NHRA national record in the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird. The potential for 200 mph is big at Houston. The track sits at sea level, which creates oxygen-rich, dense air that normally aspirated Pro Stock engines convert into extra horsepower. *No surprise: Many NHRA followers were surprised that Winston points leader Jim Yates continued his strong performance after renowned crew chief and engine builder Richard Maskin left the team in late February. Maskin built the powerful engines that powered Yates to his first NHRA Winston championship last season in the McDonald's Pontiac Firebird. But Yates' new engine builder, Bob Ingles, has improved upon Maskin's horsepower. Doubting whispers by the skeptics also provided extra motivation for Yates. "A lot of the reason we're getting better every race that is that people said we couldn't do it," Yates said. "We're just the kind of team you don't say that to. If people said we couldn't fly, we'd probably be on the top of this building trying to fly without an airplane." *Truckin': The exhibition NHRA Pro Stock Truck program will continue at this event as Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford pickups will race against each other in exhibition passes. Longtime NHRA competitors Jerry Haas and John Lingenfelter will drive two Chevrolet S-10 trucks, Team Mopar Pro Stock drivers Darrell Alderman and Scott Geoffrion will drive two Dodge Dakotas, and Roy Hill and Ronnie Sox will drive two Ford Rangers. All six trucks will participate on an exhibition basis for the rest of the NHRA season. The Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford trucks each are powered by a 358 cubic-inch, eight-cylinder engine. The minimum weight of the trucks with driver is 2,300 pounds. *Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 3 p.m. Oct. 24 and continues at 7 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at noon and 4 p.m. Oct. 25. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. Oct. 26. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 10 a.m. Oct. 23. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the Matco Tools SuperNationals. 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 by calling (713) 629-3700. *On TV: The Nashville Network (TNN) will televise 90 minutes of live, final-round competition from the Matco Tools SuperNationals at 4:30 p.m. (CST) Oct. 26. TNN also will televise one hour of live, first-round competition at 10:30 a.m. (CST) that day. *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- 10/14/97-MS4-168