Pomona : Pro Stock preview

POMONA, Calif. - Ron Krisher's last trip down Pomona Raceway's quarter-mile ended with a spectacular tumble, after his Eagle One Pontiac Firebird went out of control and crashed in a side-by-side race against Kurt Johnson. ...

POMONA, Calif. - Ron Krisher's last trip down Pomona Raceway's quarter-mile ended with a spectacular tumble, after his Eagle One Pontiac Firebird went out of control and crashed in a side-by-side race against Kurt Johnson. Krisher's still in a side-by-side battle with Johnson for second place in the NHRA Winston point standings. However, this time at Pomona, Krisher hopes the end result will be just as spectacular, only without the tumble. Krisher, virtually unknown to the drag racing world when he made highlight films in February, has earned quite a bit of respect from his competitors during the 2000 season, posting No. 1 qualifying efforts at five races and picking up two victories in four final round appearances. As he prepares for the 36th annual Auto Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, Nov. 9-12 at historic Pomona Raceway, the 52-year-old Warren, Ohio driver is focused on claiming second place in the Winston point standings. The $2 million race is the final of 23 events in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. If he should come up just a little short of his goal, Krisher will still have a smile on his face. "Obviously it's been the best year of my career," said Krisher, who has never posted a top-10 finish. "We had some confidence going into the season. Some people saw us running strong numbers during pre-season testing and didn't know what to think. I think we showed them that we were for real. We wanted to do better, maybe win the championship, but it's a great feeling to finish in the top four no matter what happens. That's some pretty good company to be in." Without the season-opening tumble, Krisher says his season could have been better. "Without the crash I'm sure things would have been different this season," Krisher said. "When we lost that car, basically we had to start over. The car we had then was really fast. I'm sure we would have won more races with it. We have struggled with the car we have now at a few tracks."

GEOFFRION SAYS RECORD SAFE: Scott Geoffrion doesn't expect anyone in the NHRA Finals Pro Stock field to challenge the national record performance his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger produced with near-perfect conditions in early October at Memphis, Tenn.

In very rare air, Geoffrion powered his machine to a 6.809-second run, quickest ever in the 200-mph category. Newly crowned Winston champion Jeg Coughlin owns Pomona Raceway's Pro Stock elapsed time record at 6.876 seconds, set during this event one year ago.

"I don't think conditions will be 600-feet under sea level, which were perfect at Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park," said Geoffrion. "The track may yield some 6.80-second times, but I don't think we'll see a national record. Pomona is a great facility, but the air and density and temperatures aren't usually good enough there to produce a national record."

More important to Geoffrion than record-setting runs, is the business of winning races. He feels he and teammate Darrell Alderman are getting close to returning to winning form.

"We can win at any event we run in now," he said. "In the earlier development of the Hemi engine, we couldn't say that. Now, we have cars quick enough to run with anyone. We're gaining momentum and hope to make a championship run next season."

W.J. CHARGING TO SECOND: A late season victory at Houston Raceway Park gave Warren Johnson a boost in the NHRA Winston point standings. The 81-time winner is now eyeing a second place points finish, after being as low as fourth in the standings during the season.

He trails son Kurt by 19 for second place. He's 30 ahead of fourth place Krisher.

"We've learned quite a bit this season and now I think we're back to the level of power and performance that we need to be," said Johnson, runner-up at this event last year and a six-time Finals winner. "This is definitely not a season we enjoyed, but I think we'll be better next year."

SCHULTZ HOPES TO RIDE: Depending on how his next scheduled chemotherapy treatment session goes, Dave Schultz hopes to have enough strength to compete in the Auto Club NHRA Finals. The six-time NHRA Winston Pro Stock Motorcycle champion claimed an emotional victory at Houston Raceway Park in late October, after doctors told him he may never race again. He was diagnosed with cancer in mid-August. "The decision will be made based on how I feel at that time," said Schultz, who has earned 45 victories during his career on his familiar Sunoco Suzuki. "Let's put it this way, I'm keeping (substitute rider) John Smith's name on the bike." He said winning at HRP was one of the most important of his career. "It was like a Cinderella weekend after everything I've been through," said Schultz, who had stand-by rider Smith on hand just in case he couldn't continue during the weekend. "My goal was just to get back on the bike. Before the race in Brainerd my doctor told me that it may be the last race I ever get to run. I couldn't stand thinking about it. Every time I went to the starting line at Houston I just wanted to do everything I could to win the round and keep racing."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Darrell Alderman , Warren Johnson , Ron Krisher , Scott Geoffrion