Tom Martino Houston release

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Contact: Jon G. Knapp Phone: (704) 662-9898 Fax: (704) 662-9809 MARTINO HOPES HISTORY WILL REPEAT ITSELF IN HOUSTON FARMINGDALE, NJ, October 20, 1997 -- Throughout their careers, racers develop an affection for certain race tracks. ...

Contact: Jon G. Knapp Phone: (704) 662-9898 Fax: (704) 662-9809

MARTINO HOPES HISTORY WILL REPEAT ITSELF IN HOUSTON

FARMINGDALE, NJ, October 20, 1997 -- Throughout their careers, racers develop an affection for certain race tracks. In some instances, competitors consider a location their "home" track, due to its close proximity to their race shop or residence, allowing them the comfort of competing in front of friends and family. For others, the attraction may stem from a participant's affinity for the race facility, where the performance characteristics are best suited to one's driving style. Finally, a particular quarter-mile may hold a special memory for a driver or team. Such is the relationship between MaMa Rosa's Pizza Pro Stock pilot Tom Martino and Houston Raceway Park, site of this weekend's inaugural Matco Tools Supernationals. When the NHRA's Winston Drag Racing Series last visited the Houston speedplant, Martino rode two impressive hole-shot wins to score the first national event victory of his professional career.

"The MaMa Rosa's Pizza Racing team will always remember that Sunday in March," said Martino. "Houston Raceway Park has gained a special place in the history of the Martino Family Racing team, and we'd like nothing more than to do it all over again this weekend!"

As the penultimate event on the 1997 schedule, the Martino Family team comes to the Matco Tools Supernationals in the midst of several battles besides that for the event victory. First, they look to cement and possibly improve upon their current seventh place in the Pro Stock season's points standings. In addition, Tom Martino looks to build on his lead for the Slick 50 Performance Award, which goes to the professional driver with the most hole-shot victories during the course of the regular season. Therefore, with less than a week between the two Texas events, the MaMa Rosa's Pizza crew used the time to their advantage. Two extra days were spent at the Texas Motorplex testing a variety of combinations in a quest for additional performance. Even though the Dallas surface differs from those at the remaining events, valuable information could be obtained. With the luxury of time and unlimited runs, and without the pressure of qualifying, more radical changes can be attempted. Not only can solutions be found, but lingering questions on certain areas on the race car can be eradicated. The primary goal is to find an optimal base set-up which will then be fine-tuned to best match the MaMa Rosa's Pizza Pro Stock Firebird to prevailing track conditions at the final two races in Houston and Pomona.

"This team is determined to accomplish certain things in the last two races, and testing will help us get it done," explained Martino. "We know what our MaMa Rosa's Pizza Pro Stock Firebird is capable of, and want to show it on a consistent basis. We're looking to first find our best equipment combination, and then use it to establish a current baseline to work from for the last two races."

Several other factors come into play at this race for all involved. Houston Raceway Park is one of the favorite off-season testing locations for many of the Pro Stock contingent, and is capable of yielding record performances at any time. In addition, as the NHRA's first fall visit to this facility, every competitor would like the unique honor of being the first to capture the inaugural Supernationals. Finally, this represents one of two remaining opportunities for teams to make a favorable impression on current or potential sponsors, establishing or solidifying relationships for 1998. For Tom Martino and his MaMa Rosa's Pizza Racing team, it all means one thing.

"One track, two races, two wins. It has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?" asked Martino. "We have the opportunity to do just that this weekend. We've put in some long hours this week, but it will all be worth it if the MaMa Rosa's Pizza Firebird is in the winner's circle on Sunday night!

PIZZA POINTERS: Tom Martino looks to solidify his seventh place in the season's points standings ....Returns to the site of his first career Pro Stock win....Martino remains in the lead for the Slick 50 Performance award for holeshot victories with five, which tops all NHRA professional categories.....Only seven competitors have captured a national event win in Pro Stock in 1997, and Martino is one of only four to have won multiple events.

FAST FACTS:

WHAT: Inaugural Matco Tools Supernationals, the 21st of 22 points races on the 1997 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series schedule.

WHEN: October 23-26, 1997

WHERE: Houston Raceway Park, Baytown, Texas

SCHEDULE: Professional qualifying starts with two rounds on Friday, October 24 at 3 and 7 p.m., and concludes on Saturday with sessions at 12 & 4 p.m.. Final eliminations start on Sunday, October 26 at 11 a.m..

TV: TNN will televise ninety minutes of live final round coverage on Sunday, October 26 starting at 5:30 p.m. (EDT). In addition, there will be one hour of live first-round coverage during the NHRA Today show starting at 11:30 (EDT) on Sunday, October 26

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