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MORE BARRIERS MAY BE BROKEN AT VIRGINIA MOTORSPORTS PARK DINWIDDIE, Va. -- Over time, each venue in the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series develops its own identity. In just three short years, the Virginia Motorsports Park has quickly ...

MORE BARRIERS MAY BE BROKEN AT VIRGINIA MOTORSPORTS PARK DINWIDDIE, Va. -- Over time, each venue in the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series develops its own identity. In just three short years, the Virginia Motorsports Park has quickly distinguished itself among the 19 facilities on the circuit. The well-maintained quarter-mile has earned its place in NHRA's fast track club by providing a surface that's conducive to record-breaking performances. During last season's event Warren Johnson broke one of the last great barriers in drag racing, the 200 mph mark in Pro Stock. In addition, Matt Hines rode his Pro Stock Motorcycle into the 7.20-second zone here for the first time. More performance barriers may be broken at the Fourth annual Pennzoil Nationals presented by Trak Auto, April 23-26. The $1.6-million race is the sixth of 22 events in the $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. Consider the outstanding performances of teams in every NHRA professional category to date. In Top Fuel, Joe Amato is on the verge of lowering his category's best elapsed time into the 4.40-second range. Cruz Pedregon, John Force and Tony Pedregon are favorites to drop the Funny Car E.T. mark below 4.80 seconds. Hines has already ran 7.24 seconds in Pro Stock Motorcycle this season, and feels a perfect run could threaten the 7.20 second barrier. More importantly, teams realize that with extreme heat of the summer months just around the corner this may be the last realistic opportunity for establishing NHRA national performance records. VMP's sea-level altitude and early-spring weather conditions may be very similar to two other dynamic races this season -- Gainesville, Fla.'s Mac Tools Gatornationals, and Houston's Pennzoil Nationals. While teams will be working hard to achieve maximum performance, they will also be focused intently on improving in the Winston point standings. Those drivers riding a wave of success entering the event include current point leaders Cory McClenathan in Top Fuel, Cruz Pedregon in Funny Car, Johnson in Pro Stock and Hines in Pro Stock Motorcycle. However, the race's defending champions may have a little extra momentum, based on past success. In Top Fuel, defending Winston champion Gary Scelzi roared to victory over McClenathan here last year. Drivers hoping to put an end to his VMP winning streak include two-time finalists Jim Head and Larry Dixon, Amato, Kenny Bernstein, Eddie Hill and Mike Dunn. Chuck Etchells took the final round victory over Cruz Pedregon in Funny Car at this event one year ago. Force, Tony Pedregon, Ron Capps, Al Hofmann and Randy Anderson are all threats to win in Funny Car. In Pro Stock, Johnson has won all three NHRA events at VMP over three different opponents. Last year the GM Goodwrench Pontiac driver defeated son Kurt in the final. Defending Winston champion Jim Yates, rookie Jeg Coughlin and Virginia native Mark Osborne will be Johnson's top challengers. Hines was the Pro Stock Motorcycle winner, defeating Hector Arana in a lopsided affair. However, Hines is aware that riders like Angelle Seeling, Dave Schultz and John Smith are all in search of their first win of the season and will be in top form.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Matt Hines , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , John Force , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Chuck Etchells , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan