Phoenix Preview

FIREBIRD FORESHADOWS WINSTON CHAMPIONS PHOENIX -- Whoever wins the ATSCO Nationals, will win NHRA Winston championships. At least, that In 1996 and 1997, Phoenix was the only race where all three eventual champions won. Gary ...

FIREBIRD FORESHADOWS WINSTON CHAMPIONS PHOENIX -- Whoever wins the ATSCO Nationals, will win NHRA Winston championships. At least, that In 1996 and 1997, Phoenix was the only race where all three eventual champions won. Gary Scelzi in Top Fuel, John Force in Funny Car and Jim Yates in Pro Stock return to Firebird International Raceway as defending race winners and defending NHRA Winston champions. The $1,549,310 ATSCO Nationals, Feb. 19-22, is the second race of the 22-event, $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series in 1998. Arizona will rumble and rattle when 6,000-horsepower Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars cover the quarter-mile track in less than five seconds and reach speeds of over 320 mph. The nitromethane-powered vehicles accelerate from 0 to 100 mph in less than one second. Scelzi, from Fresno, Calif., made NHRA history last year by becoming the first rookie to win his first two races. At the ATSCO Nationals, he drove the Team Winston Dragster, owned and tuned by Alan Johnson, to a victory over Kenny Bernstein, from Lake Forest, Calif. Bernstein, who has had a history of performing well at Firebird International Raceway, will be one of Scelzi Joe Amato and Cory McClenathan could also prove to be formidable opponents. Sixteen-year veteran Amato, from Exeter, Pa., will drive the Tenneco Automotive Dragster this season in seeking a record sixth Top Fuel title. Amato McClenathan, from Anaheim, Calif., had six wins last year in the McDonald Force has also been very successful at Firebird International Raceway in the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, winning here the past four years (1994-97) and finishing runner-up in 1991. Force, from Yorba Linda, Calif., is seeking his eighth Winston championship in Funny Car and sixth in a row. Yates dominated the Pro Stock field in 1997, plain and simple. In 1997, Yates led all NHRA professional drivers in wins (nine), final rounds (12), points (1,963) and elimination round wins (58). In addition, he was the No. 1 qualifier nine times. Yates, from Alexandria, Va., will drive the Splitfire/Peak Pontiac Firebird and defend his back-to-back Winston championships. *Schedule: Pro qualifying is at noon and 4:30 p.m. Feb 20. Qualifying continues at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. Sunday. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 8 a.m. Feb. 19. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the ATSCO Nationals. Call Firebird International Raceway, (602) 268-0200, for more information. *On TV: The Nashville Network (TNN) will televise 90 minutes of highlights and final-round competition from the ATSCO Nationals at 5 p.m. (MST) Feb. 22. TNN will televise one hour of first-round coverage during "NHRA Today" at 9 a.m. (MST) Feb. 22. -30-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kenny Bernstein , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi