Parsippany, New Jersey, July 2, 1999 - The 1999 Winston Drag Racing season will consist of twenty-three weekends of racing. Twenty-two of those will be NHRA sanctioned national events, with points awarded towards the championship in each ...
Parsippany, New Jersey, July 2, 1999 - The 1999 Winston Drag Racing season will consist of twenty-three weekends of racing. Twenty-two of those will be NHRA sanctioned national events, with points awarded towards the championship in each professional category. The remaining race, however, is an opportunity unto itself. For one three-day period, the world's best quarter-milers will gather in Bristol, Tennessee putting aside their title aspirations to battle for one thing - a huge payday. At next weekend's Winston Showdown, the top eliminator in the Pro Stock division will be awarded an unparalleled $50,000 winner's prize. All things considered, Tom Martino and the CENTURY 21 Pro Stock Firebird Racing Team would rather have their name on that check, and are prepared to take on all challengers.
"Winston has done a lot for the sport of drag racing, and we thank them for their support," said Martino. "The Showdown promises to be an exciting event for the teams as well as the fans. We're always out here to win, but when you put that $50,000 carrot in front us it just raises the intensity even further. I know everyone on this CENTURY 21 Racing team has it in their crosshairs!"
There are several factors for the Martino team to consider as they prepare for this high-dollar duel. First is the location of this year's event, Bruton Smith's state-of-the-art Bristol Dragway, which has been totally reconstructed over the last year. The Winston Showdown will mark the NHRA's much-anticipated return to Thunder Valley, and many expect this to become the new standard for drag racing facilities. Although appreciating the new tower, comfortable seating for the fans and an improved pit area, the competitors' focus remains squarely on the quarter-mile of asphalt, and the challenge it presents.
With no prior on-track experience to draw from, a premium will be placed on reading the track. Those who are best able to adapt to this new racing surface will stand the best chance for success, with each run providing crucial information. In addition, qualifying will be held in the late afternoon and early evening, which could produce favorable conditions for the Pro Stock contingent, who rely on cool, dry air for maximum horsepower. Although Tom Martino and nine other invitees are guaranteed a spot in Saturday's final eliminations, which is Winston's reward for their recent national event victories, time trials remain significant. Obtaining lane choice for the first round could be a crucial first step towards the winner's circle. After their semi-final performance in Madison, the CENTURY 21 team arrives in Tennessee looking for more.
"We always enjoy racing at a new facility," stated Martino. "After everything we've heard about it, we can't wait to get to Bristol Dragway. We're also looking forward to going to a new area and meeting the fans there. But the bottom line is that we are there to race, and a new track should play to what we feel is one of our strengths, namely reading and reacting to the conditions.
This is our second time out with this car, and we're still familiarizing ourselves with it. We'll use our four qualifying runs to get a good baseline and prepare for eliminations. Come Saturday, we plan to do whatever we can to put our CENTURY 21 Firebird in a position to collect that $50,000."
MARTINO MOMENTS: The CENTURY 21 "Drive It Home" Mall Tour will be held at the Fort Henry Mall at 2101 Fort Henry Drive in Kingsport, Tennessee from Saturday through Wednesday, July 3 -7, and will feature the CENTURY 21 Pro Stock Firebird and the giveaway of a two-year lease on a 1999 Firebird. For directions, please call (423) 246-3871.... This will be Tom's first Pro Stock appearance at the newly renovated Bristol Dragway...Martino looks to improve upon his runner-up finish from the 1996 Winston Invitational.... Martino's automatic qualification is based on his victory at the 1998 Visionaire Northstar Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota.
WHAT: Inaugural Winston Showdown a non-points all-star event marking the midpoint of the 22-race 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series Schedule.
WHEN: July 8 - 10, 1999
WHERE: Bristol Dragway, Bristol, Tennessee
SCHEDULE: Professional qualifying sessions start on Thursday, July 8 with two sessions at 4:00 and 8:00 p.m., and conclude on Friday, July 9 with two rounds at 4:00 and 8:00 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 10.
TV: ESPN will air one hour of final-round coverage from 9:30 - 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 10, and one round of qualifying highlights on Friday, July 9 from 9:30 - 10:30 p.m.. (All times are Eastern). As always, please check your local listings.