Preseason testing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 FORCE, W. JOHNSON, COUGHLIN AMONG STANDOUTS IN TESTING GLENDORA, Calif. -- If preseason testing is any indication, drivers will waste no time breaking NHRA records...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761

FORCE, W. JOHNSON, COUGHLIN AMONG STANDOUTS IN TESTING

GLENDORA, Calif. -- If preseason testing is any indication, drivers will waste no time breaking NHRA records during the season-opening event next week at Pomona Raceway.

Funny Car driver John Force, and Pro Stock drivers Warren Johnson and Troy Coughlin all recorded runs better than existing NHRA national records during testing last weekend at Chandler, Ariz., and Gainesville, Fla.

The 1997 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series opens with the 37th annual Chief Auto Parts Winternationals, Jan. 30-Feb. 2 at Pomona, Calif.

Force, six-time and defending NHRA Winston Funny Car champion, covered the quarter-mile at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., in 4.867 seconds at 294.11 mph in his Castrol GTX Pontiac Firebird. His time was quicker than his NHRA national record of 4.889 seconds, set in July 1996 at Topeka, Kan.

All times and speeds during testing are unofficial and cannot be counted as national records.

Three-time NHRA Winston champion Johnson unofficially became the first NHRA Pro Stock driver to record a 200-mph speed with his run of 6.930, 200.00 in the GM Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird at Gainesville Raceway. Johnson holds the NHRA national record of 199.15 mph.

Johnson's time also was quicker than the NHRA national record of 6.947 seconds held by Jim Yates.

Coughlin, using an engine built by Johnson, made a run of 6.897, 199.60 in the Jeg's Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird at Gainesville. Unofficially, it was the first Pro Stock pass quicker than 6.90 seconds in NHRA history. Coughlin also matched Johnson's speed feat with a run of 6.905, 200.00.

Many Top Fuel drivers joined Force in the test session tested at Phoenix, with five-time NHRA Winston champion Joe Amato producing the best run at 4.613, 307.16 in the Keystone Automotive Warehouse Dragster.

Rookie Gary Scelzi was the second-quickest Top Fuel driver in testing at Phoenix with a run of 4.637, 309.91 in the Team Winston Dragster. Scelzi is replacing Blaine Johnson, who was killed in a qualifying accident in August 1996 at the U.S. Nationals.

Defending NHRA Winston Top Fuel champion Kenny Bernstein was clocked at 4.656, 304.15 in the Budweiser King/Prolong Dragster. Three speeds faster than 310 mph were recorded, as Shelly Anderson reached 310.55 mph in the Parts America Dragster, Scott Kalitta 310.45 in the American International Airways Dragster and Cory McClenathan 310.02 in the McDonald's Dragster.

Final Top Fuel and Funny Car preseason test sessions are scheduled for this weekend at Famoso Raceway near Bakersfield, Calif. Pro Stock drivers will have their last test this weekend at Houston Raceway Park. -30-

Jack Durbin indy500@freenet.tlh.fl.us Motorsport News International jackd@motorsport.com (Moderators for "rec.autos.sport.info") Homepage http://www.freenet.tlh.fl.us/users/indy500/index.html

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Troy Coughlin , Kenny Bernstein , John Force , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Cory McClenathan