Tom Martino pre Memphis PR (Pro Stock)

Contact: Jon G. Knapp Phone: (704) 662-9898 Fax: (704) 662-9809 MARTINO ANXIOUS TO MOTOR IN MEMPHIS FARMINGDALE, NJ, October 1, 1997 - Racing on consecutive weekends is not high on the list of many of the competitors in the NHRA's ...

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

MARTINO ANXIOUS TO MOTOR IN MEMPHIS

FARMINGDALE, NJ, October 1, 1997 - Racing on consecutive weekends is not high on the list of many of the competitors in the NHRA's Winston Drag Racing Series. With only five days between the conclusion of Sunday's final eliminations in Topeka and the first day of qualifying in Memphis, there is little time to modify or repair the racecar. In fact, most teams did not even return home, opting instead to head straight from Kansas to the Volunteer State. This only adds pressure to racers vying for position in the final points standings and already worn down by the previous eight months of competition. For Tom Martino and his MaMa Rosa's Pizza Racing team, however, the start of the Pennzoil Nationals cannot come soon enough. Having posting the quickest elapsed time of the weekend at the last event, Martino and crew are ready for more.

"After that last run in Topeka, we can't wait for Memphis," said Martino. "Our MaMa Rosa's Pizza Pro Stock Firebird was really hooked up, and we're looking to build on that this weekend!"

A most welcome change to this event is the October race date, marking the third different spot on the schedule in three years. After sweltering in the July heat and humidity of 1996, competitors and fans alike will appreciate the coolness of early fall. Naturally, this change in conditions will also favor on-track performance, with the potential of obliterating existing track records an added bonus. Once again, a team's ability to read the Memphis Motorsports Park track surface, and adjust their car accordingly, will be paramount to success. The information gathered on each qualifying pass will be vital, as previous years' notes should provide little help. Qualifying in the top half of the ladder takes on extra significance this weekend, as lane choice will provide a distinct advantage on this bumpy Tennessee quarter mile. Fully aware of this, the MaMa Rosa's Pizza Racing team is focused on addressing this matter in Friday evening's qualifying round.

"As close to the edge as these Pro Stock cars run, hitting a bump at speed really upsets them," explained Martino. "Therefore, lane choice will be a big factor here on Sunday. We're looking to plant the MaMa Rosa's Pizza Firebird in the top eight during the nighttime session on Friday, and use Saturday to set the car up for Sunday's eliminations."

A practice that has become prevalent in the pit area is the counting of the valuable Winston points earned through qualifying and winning elimination rounds. With only four races left in the 1997 season, there is a heated battle for several positions in the top ten, and a consistently performing Pro Stock team could improve their standing by season's end. One of the Martino Family team's goals at the start of the season was to improve on their eighth place finish from 1996, and its realization lies in their results during the remaining events. As such, the MaMa Rosa's Pizza crew is more determined than ever to succeed.

"A lot could happen in these last four races," stated Martino. "We've accomplished a great deal this year, and feel we can do more. For now, we want to consistently qualify our MaMa Rosa's Pizza Firebird in the top half, and advance some rounds on Sunday. Naturally, we'd also like to add to our win total. If we remain focused on the fundamentals, I'm confident of the outcome."

PIZZA POINTERS: Tom Martino will be making a personal appearance at MEGA MARKET/JITNEY PREMIER, 285 Stateline Road, Southhaven, MS (601) 342-0105 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m..... Martino is seventh in the season's points standings.....Martino continues to hold sole possession of first place for all NHRA professional categories in the number of holeshot wins in 1997 with five.....Martino's is the only career first-time winner this year in the Pro Stock division, and joins Warren and Kurt Johnson and Jim Yates as the only multiple-event winners.

FAST FACTS:

WHAT: 10th Annual Pennzoil Nationals presented by Auto Zone, the 19th of 22 points races on the 1997 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series schedule.

WHEN: October 2-5, 1997

WHERE: Memphis Motorsports Park, Memphis, Tennessee

SCHEDULE: Professional qualifying starts with two rounds on Friday, October 3 at 3 and 7 p.m., and concludes on Saturday with sessions at 12 & 4 p.m.. Final eliminations start on Sunday, October 5 at 11 a.m..

TV: ESPN2 will televise two hours of live qualifying on Friday, October 3 starting at 8 p.m. (EDT), and two hours of same-day final round coverage on Sunday, October 5 starting at 8:30 p.m. (EDT).

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