MARTINO POISED FOR A CLIMB TO THE TOP IN DENVER Parsippany, New Jersey, July 12, 1998 - Following a brief two-weekend hiatus, the NHRA's best continue their pursuit of the Winston Championship at this weekend's Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals...
MARTINO POISED FOR A CLIMB TO THE TOP IN DENVER
Parsippany, New Jersey, July 12, 1998 - Following a brief two-weekend hiatus, the NHRA's best continue their pursuit of the Winston Championship at this weekend's Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals in Morrison, Colorado. This particular event poses a challenge to the competitors unlike any other due to its location. Nestled in the side of a mountain just outside of Denver at an altitude of over 5,800 feet, Bandimere Speedway is arguably the most picturesque facility on the circuit. However, this scenic beauty comes at a cost of anemically thin air. Naturally, the normally aspirated "doorslammers" are most affected. Unlike the nitro-burning land missiles in the Top Fuel and Funny Car categories, who can alter their set-ups to simply overpower the conditions, Pro Stock crews must compensate for the lack of power-producing oxygen. This, in turn, increases the importance of installing a clutch and suspension set-up that will maximize whatever horsepower is produced - a daunting task. Even so, Tom Martino and the Six Flags Theme Parks Racing team head into this race optimistic about their chances for victory.
"We seem to have gotten a better handle on dialing in our Six Flags Thrill Machine for the conditions," explained Martino. "Our Firebird is getting faster with every run, and we feel this should be a good weekend for us."
Even with close to three weeks between national events, the Martino crew had little time to relax. Just three days after the final eliminations in Madison, the Six Flags Racing team participated in a match race at Atco Raceway in New Jersey, where Martino teamed with current Winston Points leader Warren Johnson to defeat the Dodge Boys tandem of Scott Geoffrion and Darrell Alderman. Martino contributed greatly to the victory by winning two of his three races. Their attention then turned to preparing for the second half of the season, starting with the arduous "West Coast Swing", where competitors race on three consecutive weekends in Colorado, California and Washington. With no time between events, and with their headquarters on the opposite side of the country, the team would have to consider and plan for every contingency. As part of these pre-trip arrangements, Martino and crew chief Tom Kling spent long hours working on their massive 500 cubic-inch powerplants. In addition to performing normal maintenance and incorporating any improvements on their two primary motors, they also worked to have a total of four race-ready "bullets" ready to load for this cross-country excursion as an extra measure of preparation. Time was also spent carefully checking their "Thrill Machine" Pro Stock Firebird, minimizing the chance for mechanical gremlins while at the track. Finally, the team took to the track in Englishtown to test their handiwork before heading west.
"The altitude changes the whole complexion of this race," stated Martino. "Horsepower alone won't get the job done. We've run well here in the past, and will study our notes to develop a pre-race strategy, but the real decisions won't be made until we unload. This Six Flags Racing team is coming into Denver on a high note, and we're looking to keep improving. We don't want to sound overconfident, but we feel capable of winning at any time, and Denver would be a great place to get started!"