Topeka 2 Pro Stock notebook

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (626) 914-4761 SEARS CRAFTSMAN NATIONALS PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK *Pulling away: Jim Yates expanded his lead in the NHRA Winston standings to 185 points over second-place Warren Johnson -- his...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (626) 914-4761 SEARS CRAFTSMAN NATIONALS PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK *Pulling away: Jim Yates expanded his lead in the NHRA Winston standings to 185 points over second-place Warren Johnson -- his biggest gap of the season -- after winning the Pioneer Electronics Keystone Nationals earlier this month at Reading, Pa. Yates is trying to win his second consecutive NHRA Winston championship in the McDonald's Pontiac Firebird. Pro Stock rival Scott Geoffrion thinks Yates should have little problem achieving that goal due to the team's unity. "Yates has, cohesively, the best team out there right now," Geoffrion said. "He's a smart guy with computers and clutches. The whole team, the glue is so tight. They've got super glue on that team. "It seems like Warren's team and other teams, they have their spats and problems. Chemistry is a big thing out here." So is making the most of available horsepower. "They're making the most efficient runs out of everybody," Geoffrion said. "You can't take that away from them. Warren has more power than them, but they're just utilizing it better." But Yates is making up ground quickly in the horsepower war with Johnson. Yates pulled off a clean sweep -- winning, qualifying No. 1, and recording low elapsed time and top speed -- for the first time this season at Reading. Top speed is the most common barometer of horsepower in drag racing. Yates recorded top speed of the race for the first time at Reading. Johnson has produced the top speed at 13 races. *His kind of town: Scott Geoffrion has won his last three starts at Heartland Park Topeka, but he insists there's no magic in the track. Instead, the Midwestern fans might be the perpetuators of his streak. "I always feel comfortable driving there," Geoffrion said. "Probably a lot of it has to do with the people. They're really nice, friendly, down-to-earth people in the middle of the country. When I won both races there in 1994, it just built a comfort level in me." *Slam dunk: Former NBA power forwards Tom Hammonds and Larry Nance both qualified at the Pioneer Electronics Keystone Nationals earlier this month at Reading, Pa. Hammonds, from Crestview, Fla., made the field for the first time in 13 career starts, qualifying 13th in the Winnebago Oldsmobile Cutlass. Nance, from Akron, Ohio, qualified for the fourth time this season, taking 14th in the Catch 22 Oldsmobile Cutlass. Both lost in the first round. *Stay sharp: Scott Geoffrion and Team Mopar teammate Darrell Alderman are among the busiest drivers in the Pro Stock pits at every NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series national event, as they also each drive a Dodge Dakota in the exhibition Pro Stock Truck category at every race. Despite the grind, Geoffrion thinks driving the truck has helped to sharpen his skills at the starting line. "Anytime you can get more views of the Christmas Tree, especially on race day, it's just going to help," Geoffrion said. "In the truck at Indy, I was trying stuff that I thought I was going to have to use in the next round against the next competitor in the car. "You see that tree more, you have that visual picture in your mind more, and you get in that comfort zone the more you approach the starting line." The exhibition NHRA Pro Stock Truck program will continue at the Sears Craftsman Nationals as Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford pickups will race against each other in exhibition passes. Besides Alderman and Geoffrion in the Dodge Dakotas, longtime NHRA competitors Jerry Haas and John Lingenfelter will drive two Chevrolet S-10 trucks, and Roy Hill and Pro Stock pioneer Ronnie Sox will drive two Ford Rangers. The Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford trucks each are powered by a 358 cubic-inch, eight-cylinder engine. The minimum weight of the trucks with driver is 2,300 pounds. *Stay near the top: Statistics show that a Pro Stock driver has little chance to win an NHRA national event this season if they qualify outside the top four. Only three of 17 Pro Stock titles have been won this season by drivers who qualified fifth or lower. Tom Martino won the Slick 50 Nationals and Pontiac Excitement Nationals from the No. 7 spot, and Mike Edwards qualified 10th en route to a victory at the Northwest Nationals. *Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 3 p.m. Sept. 26 and continues at 7 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at noon and 4 p.m. Sept. 27. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. Sept. 28. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 9 a.m. Sept. 25. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the Sears Craftsman Nationals. Call Heartland Park Topeka at (800) 43-RACES. Tickets also are available at Ticketmaster outlets throughout the Midwest. *On TV: The Nashville Network (TNN) will televise 90 minutes of live, final-round competition from the Sears Craftsman Nationals at 4:30 p.m. (CDT) Sept. 28. TNN also will televise one hour of live, first-round competition at 11 a.m. (CDT) that day. *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-

9/17/97-TK4-149

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , John Lingenfelter , Tom Hammonds , Tom Martino , Scott Geoffrion , Jerry Haas , Larry Nance