On most days, Tom Martino's 6.901-second, 199.43 mph run in the first round of the Auto Zone Nationals would be more than enough to advance the Century 21 Firebird to the quarter-finals. However, the conditions at Memphis Motorsports Park...
On most days, Tom Martino's 6.901-second, 199.43 mph run in the first round of the Auto Zone Nationals would be more than enough to advance the Century 21 Firebird to the quarter-finals. However, the conditions at Memphis Motorsports Park were unlike those seen by the "factory hot rods" for quite some time, and had produced a field that tied the NHRA record for the quickest in Pro Stock history. Having qualified 14th, Martino was relegated to the less-preferred right lane, and knew he would need the combination of a quick starting line reaction time and an outstanding run in order to upset No. 3 qualifier Larry Morgan. Martino accomplished the first half of his goal, leaving the line one hundredth of a second ahead his rival, but his elapsed time fell just shy of earning him the win, as he was edged at the finish line.
"We made some changes to the car for last night's run that we thought we could use for the first round. Unfortunately, I, like many of us in the Pro Stock class, underestimated the track's condition, and it cost us. I was able to get the jump on Larry at the start, but we didn't back it up with a good run, which let him get by me.
"We're zeroing in on what it takes to make this Century 21 Firebird run, but the conditions this weekend were so good that you almost had to make a perfect run every time down the track. We're happy we were able to qualify for such a fast field, but still have a lot of unfinished business that we have to take care of in these last three races. We're going to head back to our shop in New Jersey to regroup and get ready for one final big push starting in Dallas."