FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 PENNZOIL NATIONALS PRESENTED BY TRAK AUTO PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK *Plenty of power: After Richard Maskin left the McDonald's Pro Stock team in late February, Jim Yates...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761
PENNZOIL NATIONALS PRESENTED BY TRAK AUTO PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK *Plenty of power: After Richard Maskin left the McDonald's Pro Stock team in late February, Jim Yates kept the potent Maskin engines that powered him to the Winston championship last season. But Bob Ingles, Yates' new engine builder, also is building strong engines that will be phased in Yates' program as Maskin's powerplants age. Yates used an Ingles engine at the non-points Winston Invitational in early April at Rockingham, N.C., qualifying No. 3 at 6.951 seconds. Yates lost on a holeshot to Warren Johnson in the quarterfinals. "We feel better losing the way we did at Rockingham than if we won with (Maskin's) engines," Yates said. "We now know we can win with Ingles' engines. The car was a rocketship." *The Professor's classroom: Pro Stock driver Warren Johnson's nickname is "The Professor," and he certainly has taught a lesson to his opponents the last two years at Virginia Motorsports Park. Johnson will try to remain unbeaten at Virginia Motorsports Park this weekend in the GM Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird. Johnson won the first two Pennzoil Nationals presented by Trak Auto, beating Mike Edwards in 1996 and Jim Yates in 1995. *Playing defense: Jim Yates chased Warren Johnson for the NHRA Winston championship during 1994 and 1995 before catching him for his first season title in 1996. Now that he's in his first season of a title defense, he doesn't want to return to the days of chasing. "It's easier to defend because it gives you confidence that you've done it before," Yates said. "When you've won the championship before, it's always easier to do it again." *Nance is back: Former NBA star Larry Nance returned to NHRA Winston Drag Racing two weeks ago at the Fram Nationals in Atlanta with sponsorship from Summit Racing. Nance, from Akron, Ohio, failed to qualify with his pass of 7.076 seconds, 195.86 mph in the Summit Racing Oldsmobile Cutlass. He competed in seven events last season and two of the first four races this season before parking his car due to lack of sponsorship. *Harder at home: Virginia Motorsports Park may be less than a two- hour drive from Jim Yates' home in Alexandria, Va., but Yates insists there's nothing easy about racing so close to home. "It's much harder," Yates said. "You've got all of your fans, you've got all of your friends and other commitments. "It just pyramids. You're under the microscope, and pressure isn't what you need. I need to relax at races." *Progress report: Scott Geoffrion recorded a career-best time of 6.945 seconds in the Team Mopar Dodge Avenger to qualify No. 1 at the non-points Winston Invitational earlier this month at Rockingham, N.C. It was the first time that a Dodge has qualified No. 1 at an NHRA event since May 1995, when Geoffrion was No. 1 at the Mid-South Nationals at Memphis, Tenn. Geoffrion and teammate Darrell Alderman were sidelined in mid-May 1995 when vandals entered the team's shop and destroyed all of its racing engines. Geoffrion returned to racing at the Pennzoil Nationals presented by Trak Auto last year, while Alderman didn't come back until the Chief Auto Parts Winternationals in February 1997 at Pomona, Calif. *Performance prediction: Jim Yates expects the elapsed-time track record for Pro Stock to fall during the Pennzoil Nationals presented by Trak Auto. "The track is as good as any track we run on," Yates said of Virginia Motorsports Park. "It's in the top three or four. It's just a matter of the weather. "We've run mid-6.90's there during summer in testing, so I expect about a 6.95 to be the No. 1 qualifier." The track record is 6.999 seconds by Warren Johnson at the 1996 Pennzoil Nationals. Recent performance indicates that Yates' prediction about someone breaking the track record should come true. The Pro Stock track record has fallen at all five national events and the non-points Winston Invitational this season. *Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 3 p.m. April 25 and continues at 7 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at noon and 4 p.m. April 26. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. April 27. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 10:15 a.m. April 24. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the Pennzoil Nationals presented by Trak Auto. Call Virginia Motorsports Park at (804) 862-3174 for ticket information. Tickets also can be purchased from Ticketmaster. *On TV: ESPN2 will televise two hours of same-day, final-round competition from the Pennzoil Nationals presented by Trak Auto at 10:30 p.m. (EDT) April 27. ESPN2 also will show two hours of same-day, Friday- night qualifying at 11:30 p.m. (EDT) April 25.All-day, live coverage of final eliminations will be shown on ESPN pay-per-view from 10:30-6 p.m. (EDT) April 27. The telecast costs $14.95. Viewers must order the show through their satellite or cable provider. *On the Web: The NHRA home page on the World Wide Web at http://www.goracing.com/nhra/ offers more information about NHRA Winston Drag Racing, including qualifying and eliminations results, news, point standings, statistics and driver biographies. -30- 4/16/97-RV4-060
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