Richmond Battle is All About Horsepower

NHRA BATTLE AT VIRGINIA MOTORSPORTS PARK ALL ABOUT HORSEPOWER DINWIDDIE, Va. -- The serene landscape of central Virginia is best known as the setting for some of the most famous battles of the Civil War. General Robert E. Lee, mounted firmly...

NHRA BATTLE AT VIRGINIA MOTORSPORTS PARK ALL ABOUT HORSEPOWER

DINWIDDIE, Va. -- The serene landscape of central Virginia is best known as the setting for some of the most famous battles of the Civil War. General Robert E. Lee, mounted firmly on his trusty horse, led his Confederate troops into many skirmishes here against the opposing Union Army.

Today, a different kind of battle is being waged on the hallowed ground near Richmond.

However, one thing remains unchanged. It is still all about horsepower.

The National Hot Rod Association's finest will battle side-by-side in their 6,000 horsepower chariots, in search of record-breaking performances and Winston championship glory. Individual race winners will be crowned in four professional categories -- Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Truck -- and in seven other Federal-Mogul Drag Racing Series classes.

The world's quickest and fastest race cars will be the attraction at the fifth annual Pennzoil Nationals presented by Trak Auto, April 29-May 2 at the state-of-the-art Virginia Motorsports Park. The $1.6 million race is the sixth of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

While earning important national event victories will be the central focus, all teams realize that with the summer months just around the corner, this may be the last realistic opportunity for establishing NHRA national performance records. Professional category teams will be tuning their machines for levels of performance not yet seen in NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series competition.

VMP's sea-level altitude and cool spring weather may provide conditions very similar to two other dynamic races this season -- Pomona, Calif.'s AutoZone Winternationals and Gainesville, Fla.'s Mac Tools Gatornationals. In each of those events, national and track record books were rewritten.

Cory McClenathan, Chuck Etchells and Warren Johnson are the defending race winners in their respective professional categories.

McClenathan, from Anaheim, Calif., claimed the Top Fuel victory last year by outrunning Joe Amato in the final round. The MBNA dragster driver leads the list of Top Fuel candidates with a shot at victory at VMP. Winston points leader Mike Dunn, 330 mph ace Tony Schumacher, Pennzoil dragster driver Eddie Hill and Bud King pilot Kenny Bernstein are also among pre-race favorites.

Etchells, from Putnam, Conn., will not defend his Funny Car victory. Two-time VMP winner Etchells turned over the driving duties of his Kendall Oil Chevrolet Camaro to Whit Bazemore at the beginning of the season. Etchells and Bazemore combined their resources in an effort to maximize their chances for an NHRA Winston Funny Car championship. While Bazemore attempts to make it three-in-a-row for Team Kendall, other top Funny Car contenders at VMP include eight-time Winston champion John Force, Cruz Pedregon, and Tim Wilkerson, last season's runner-up.

Johnson, from Buford, Ga., continued his Pro Stock dominance at Virginia Motorsports Park last year by claiming his fourth victory at the Old Dominion quarter-mile in four events. The GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird driver defeated rival Tom Martino in the final round. Winston Pro Stock points leader Kurt Johnson, Jeg and Troy Coughlin, Alexandria, Va.'s Jim Yates and Pennzoil Pontiac driver Mike Thomas will make the elder Johnson work hard to get his fifth straight win at the event.

For the first time ever, Pro Stock Truck will be among the professional categories contested at the Pennzoil Nationals presented by Trak Auto. Defending Winston champion Larry Kopp, driver of the Speedco Chevrolet S-10, heads the list of Pro Stock Truck contenders, which includes fellow Chevrolet drivers Brad Jeter, and Mark Osborne; Team Mopar's Todd Patterson; and GMC's David Spitzer.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Troy Coughlin , Mike Dunn , Kenny Bernstein , Brad Jeter , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Larry Kopp , Chuck Etchells , Cory McClenathan , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson