Reading Race Recap

READING PA - SUMMIT FastNews - The hurricane-shortened 15th annual True Value Keystone Nationals came to a close Sunday under mostly sunny skies Sunday. There were three familiar and one new face in the winners' circle when Joe Amato, Tommy ...

READING PA - SUMMIT FastNews - The hurricane-shortened 15th annual True Value Keystone Nationals came to a close Sunday under mostly sunny skies Sunday. There were three familiar and one new face in the winners' circle when Joe Amato, Tommy Johnson Jr., Jeg Coughlin, and Matt Hines took home the honors in their respective professional eliminators. Amato overcame a fourteen-year "jinx" at his home track to win in Top Fuel, his fourth victory of the year in five final round appearances, defeating points leader Tony Schumacher in the final round. Amato was clocked at 4.677 seconds, 303.95 mph in the final round in his Tenneco Top Fuel dragster, against Schumacher's tire-smoking run in the Exide Batteries dragster. The victory moved Amato to second in the points, 36 points behind Schumacher and 10 points ahead of 1998 champion Gary Scelzi. "We had about 3.500 folks from Tenneco plus friends and family, so there was a little bit of pressure," said Amato. "It's just a special race. I was just trying to focus on the race. I didn't want to go out there and get beat up on by one of the young whippersnappers." As for the jinx, "When you are 55 years old, you have to reach a little deeper...we completed the punch list" (referring to the fact that this is the only NHRA national event he'd never won). Johnson posted his first-ever win in Funny Car, driving the Interstate Batteries Firebird to victory against the Team Copenhagen Camaro driven by Ron Capps. Johnson's 5.108 at 281.51 earned the win light when Capps' mount lost traction on the second half of the run, slowing with engine damage and a small fire. Johnson took over the Joe Gibbs Racing ride midway through the 1999 season and said, smiling, "I feel a huge monkey is off my back now, finally getting that first win. The pressure was really on, with Tony Stewart (Joe Gibbs' Winston Cup rookie driver) winning last week and Cory Mac (Gibbs' Top Fuel driver) winning Indy." Coughlin, in the Jeg's Mail Order Cutlass, took on Mark Pawuk , in the Summit Racing Firebird, in the Pro Stock final, matching two cars sponsored by mail-order parts companies against each other. Pawuk had the early lead with a better starting line reaction, but his Firebird came up short on the second half of the track and Coughlin won by a few feet, clocked at 6.936 seconds, 198.80 mph to Pawuk's 7.004 at 196.03. "In the final I tried to make a mistake and my car pulled me through," said Coughlin. The win was Coughlin's fourth of the year in five final round appearances. Hines posted his third win in five final round appearances in 1999, defeating a resurgent Dave Schultz in the final round with a 7.255 at 188.71 to Schultz's 7.298 at 183.03. The win moved Hines to the points lead for the first time this year, by just 4 points over season-long leader Angelle Seeling. An estimated crowd of 116,100 attended during the three days of the event after the first day of competition was washed out by Hurricane Floyd. The next event on the NHRA national event schedule is the 11th annual Advance Auto Parts Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka, September 30 - October 3. Results provided by the FastNews Network, courtesy of Summit Racing Equipment ** http://www.summitracing.com/ **

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Stewart , Matt Hines , Jeg Coughlin , Mark Pawuk , Ron Capps , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Cory Mac , Tommy Johnson Jr.
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing