MARTINO IS CONFIDENT OF ANOTHER TOPEKA TURNAROUND CENTURY 21( Racing Team looks to build on Reading results at the 11th Annual Advance Auto Parts Nationals Parsippany, New Jersey, September 23, 1999 - For Tom Martino and his CENTURY 21( Racing...
MARTINO IS CONFIDENT OF ANOTHER TOPEKA TURNAROUND CENTURY 21( Racing Team looks to build on Reading results at the 11th Annual Advance Auto Parts Nationals
Parsippany, New Jersey, September 23, 1999 - For Tom Martino and his CENTURY 21( Racing team, this weekend's Advance Auto Parts Nationals in Topeka, Kansas represents a new beginning. Although this may seem strange for a team entering the eighteenth stop of the twenty-two event NHRA Winston Drag Racing schedule, one must first consider the background. At the last race in Reading, Pennsylvania Tom Martino debuted a new Firebird built by Don Ness, and for the one of the few times this season, he left the track with a smile on his face.
No, Martino did not win, but the important part is that he knows he could have. He posted his best qualifying effort of the season, and did so with three strong, consistent runs. He then followed that with another quick pass in the first round of eliminations on Sunday. The bottom line is that Tom Martino once again has a car he can race, and although he personally tempers his outlook for this weekend, his competition knows he is once again a force to be reckoned with.
"Although we're encouraged by the early results with this particular CENTURY 21( Firebird," explained Martino. "It's still too new to feel completely at ease with it. The data we collected from Reading will prove useful, but since Topeka is a completely different track, we won't know where we stand until we make our first run.
"Hopefully, we will be able to adapt to the conditions as well as we did at the last race. The biggest difference we have seen with this new car is that it responds to the changes we make. For example, our first pass at Maple Grove was terrible, but we adjusted it and came back to have one of the quickest runs of the weekend in the next session. After that, we were very consistent. This weekend, we'll look to be fast off the trailer and fine-tune it to make it faster."
Martino's assessment of the differences between the two racetracks could be the key to success in Kansas. In Reading, handling was a primary concern as teams had to adjust for the severe bumps late in the quarter-mile. Although adjusting their charges to maintain a straight line is a constant requirement for a fast run in this sport, the Heartland Park Topeka surface is more forgiving, and thus shifts the emphasis to pure performance. The teams that can produce the horsepower will be able to use it this weekend, guaranteeing another lightning-quick field, and Martino knows they will come to this fight properly armed.
"You need to have power to run fast at Topeka," stated Martino, "and last week's results (where Martino came close to his personal best in top speed) showed our dynos weren't wrong. It was just a matter of getting the right combination to put it to the ground, which we hadn't done consistently this. It's not that we didn't think our engines were that strong, but when you're not running well, you question everything. It's good to know that we have the horses when we need them."
But perhaps the greatest benefit from the new car's impressive debut was the boost to the team's morale. Although this close-knit crew never doubted its ability, a long season takes its toll on even the best. Any opportunity or method to recharge their batteries is welcomed. Having gotten a taste of success in their last outing, the Martino crew is hungry for more. They once again have the bit clenched firmly in their teeth, and are prepared to mount another furious stretch run, much as they have done over the last two seasons. After all, there are five races remaining, and each offers a chance for victory.
"One year ago, we started a late-season charge in Topeka that carried all the way into the last race in Pomona," explained Martino. "The way we see it, we took the first step on a similar course this year, but we did it one event earlier. We now have five races to accomplish some of the goals we set for ourselves at the start of the season. Naturally, that includes putting our CENTURY 21( Firebird in the winner's circle, a task that may not be easy, but most definitely achievable."
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MARTINO MOMENTS: As part of the CENTURY 21( "Drive It Home" Sweepstakes Tour, Tom Martino will be making a personal appearance at the Mission Center Mall, 4801 Johnson Drive, Shawnee Mission, KS on Thursday, September 30 from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. For directions, please call (913) 262-3000.... Tom's best qualifying performance at this event is 4th, which he accomplished last year....This will be Tom's sixth Pro Stock appearance at Heartland Park Topeka, where he looks to improve on his semi-final finish from 1996.
WHAT: 11th Annual Advance Auto Parts Nationals, the eighteenth event of the 22-race 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series Schedule.
WHEN: September 30 - October 3, 1999
WHERE: Heartland Park Topeka, Topeka, Kansas
SCHEDULE: Professional qualifying sessions start on Friday, October 1 with two sessions at 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. and conclude with two rounds on Saturday, October 2 at 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, October 3.
TV: Speedvision will air two hours of first round coverage from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 3, and two hours of qualifying highlights from 8:00 - 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 2. In addition, Fox Sports will broadcast two hours of final round coverage from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 3. (All times are Eastern). As always, please check your local listings.