Tom Martino Gainesville finals report

In the overall scheme of things, one thousandth of a second is an infinitesimal amount of time. However, in the first round of eliminations at Sunday's Mac Tools Gatornationals, that same thousandth proved to be an eternity for Tom Martino and...

In the overall scheme of things, one thousandth of a second is an infinitesimal amount of time. However, in the first round of eliminations at Sunday's Mac Tools Gatornationals, that same thousandth proved to be an eternity for Tom Martino and the CENTURY 21( Pro Stock Firebird Racing Team, as it was the difference between winning and losing.

After qualifying seventh, Martino chose the left side for his encounter against Richie Stevens. Although his opponent gained the advantage at the start, the early numbers showed Martino was quickly narrowing the gap. However, despite posting a strong 6.920 elapsed time to his rival's 6.938, Martino simply ran out of room, falling short of advancing by the narrowest of margins.

In dissecting the run, Martino seemed certain there were other factors contributing to his downfall.

"Our Century 21 Firebird left really strong, and was on an outstanding run. In fact, our computer showed we were on a 6.89 to 6.90 pace. However, just about when I hit fourth gear, it started shaking and went out of control. I ended up driving it around just to make it to the finish line, and that cost us the win.

"Ironically, we were only second pair to run after the fuel cars, and we had trouble in the same spot as Steve Schmidt when he was forced to shut off. It's a hard pill to swallow when that last Funny Car is smoking out the pipes for the last 500 feet, and the track isn't touched afterward. For the most part, they do an outstanding job of preparing the track and keeping it clean, but the way our car reacted today seemed to point to something on the racing surface, and you can't adjust a racecar for oil on the track." ###

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tom Martino , Steve Schmidt