Topeka Martino Pro Stock Preview

Contact: Jon Knapp MARTINO CONFIDENT OF TOPEKA TURNAROUND FARMINGDALE, NJ, September 22, 1997 -- Up until now, the 1997 NHRA Winston Drag Racing season has consisted of eighteen stops at eighteen different locations. However, four of this...

Contact: Jon Knapp

MARTINO CONFIDENT OF TOPEKA TURNAROUND

FARMINGDALE, NJ, September 22, 1997 -- Up until now, the 1997 NHRA Winston Drag Racing season has consisted of eighteen stops at eighteen different locations. However, four of this year's last five events will be at facilities already visited by the world's best quarter-milers, beginning with this weekend's Sears Craftsman Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka. Some will view this as an opportunity to duplicate earlier successes, or atone for previous errors. Tom Martino and his MaMa Rosa's Pizza Pro Stock Racing team see this return to Kansas as a different type of second chance. Having struggled recently, Martino and crew look to use this event as a springboard to regain the edge they had displayed in winning two events and to reassert themselves amongst the leaders in the Pro Stock ranks.

"It's no secret that we've been in a bit of slump the last two races," stated Martino. "But it's just made this MaMa Rosa's Pizza Racing team that much more determined. We've been working non-stop since Reading to straighten things out, and are confident we'll be in the middle of things for the rest of the season, starting with Topeka!"

Normally Tom Martino would spend the ten days between the Pennsylvania and Kansas races attending to matters at work, with his evenings balanced between his family and performing routine service on the race car. However, in light of recent events, the decision was made to take a different tact. Immediately following the Keystone Nationals, the Martino Family team headed to Maryland International Raceway to participate in the Pro Stock invitational race which had been rained out the week before. As had been the original plan, the MaMa Rosa's Pizza crew arrived early in the morning to use the day for testing. With the luxury of time and the availability of the facility, a complete review of their set-up was performed. Its purpose was two-fold: First, to find whatever problem had slowed them at recent events and correct it, and second, to re-establish a performance baseline from which the team could fine-tune the car in search of greater speed and lower elapsed times. They succeeded on both counts, as by the end of the day the MaMa Rosa's Pizza Firebird was second only to Pro Stock heavyweight Warren Johnson in top speed. Even with these encouraging results, the team was not about to sit and wait for the opening session in Kansas. After spending the week in their New Jersey shop, they will head west for further testing.

"We're leaving a few days early, so we can test in Indy," explained Martino. "With two races in next two weekends, there's a lot to be gained, and we want to have our MaMa Rosa's Pizza Firebird ready to fly!"

Already known as one of the finest and fastest facilities on the circuit, cool fall temperatures virtually assure Heartland Park Topeka will yield scores of fast times in all categories. In Pro Stock, an all six-second field is a distinct possibility. The entry list will again approach forty cars, each one with the potential to post a fast time. As such, every run will be crucial, where nothing but the very best will suffice. The MaMa Rosa's Pizza team recognizes the challenge ahead, and is prepared to tackle it head on and full speed ahead.

"The Topeka track should be lightning fast, as usual," said Martino. "The Sears Craftsman Nationals could produce the fastest Pro Stock field in NHRA history, and we're looking for our MaMa Rosa's Pizza Team to leave here with the win - it would be awesome!"

PIZZA POINTERS: Tom Martino will be making a personal appearance at the FOOD 4 LESS, 2210 N. TYLER, TOPEKA, KS, (913) 575-0520 from 5:00 until 7:00 p.m. on THURSDAY, September 25...Martino remains 6th in the point standings...his five holeshot wins continue to lead the NHRA...Martino is one of only four drivers to win multiple Pro Stock national events this year.

FAST FACTS:

WHAT: 9th Annual Sears Craftsman Nationals, nineteenth of 23 races comprising the 1997 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series

WHEN: September 25 - 28, 1997

WHERE: Heartland Park Topeka, Topeka, Kansas

SCHEDULE:    Pro qualifying starts at 3 p.m., Friday, September 26 
             and continues at 7 p.m. that evening.  Qualifying ends with 
             sessions at 12 noon and 4 p.m., Saturday, September 27.  
             Final eliminations start at 11 a.m., Sunday, September 28.

TV: TNN - One hour of live first-round coverage starting at 11 a.m. (CDT), followed by ninety minutes of live final-round coverage from 4:30 - 6 p.m. (CDT), September 28.

LAST YEAR: Tom Martino qualified fifteenth (7.037 E.T.) and lost in the first round to Jerry Eckman.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , Tom Martino