LEICESTER, NY (July 9, 2001) -- Three weeks ago at an NHRA event in St. Louis, Missouri, Paul Romine suffered two frightful cockpit fire in the CARQUEST Auto Parts Top Fuel dragster, suffering second degree burns to both hands. Following the...
LEICESTER, NY (July 9, 2001) -- Three weeks ago at an NHRA event in St. Louis, Missouri, Paul Romine suffered two frightful cockpit fire in the CARQUEST Auto Parts Top Fuel dragster, suffering second degree burns to both hands. Following the event, the questions arose why the fire came forward into the cockpit and if Romine would be ready to race, July 12-14, at the IHRA CARQUEST Auto Parts Empire Nationals at New York International Raceway near Rochester, NY.
"After the race a number race officials and engineers started trying to figure out why the fire came into the cockpit and came to the conclusion the new body work under the engine that is designed to keep fluids off the track actually helps contain fuel and oil to create larger fires on Top Fuel cars using belly pan systems under the engine bay," Romine said. "Add to that the low pressure area created in the cockpit of the dragster and fluids that use to burn as they exited toward the rear of the car now just burn behind the driver and are forced forward. There are some aerodynamic solutions in the works to help solve this problem that will make the cockpit safer in the future."
Faced with three weeks to heal from second degree burns to his hands, Romine feels ready to race at the CARQUEST Empire Nationals.
"Last week the hands were still very tender, but they have healed very nicely and I am 100% ready to get back in the CARQUEST Top Fueler and get the IHRA points lead back," said Romine, who won the first two IHRA national events this season before losing the points lead at the last event in Cordova, IL.
The previous three CARQUEST Empire Nationals for Romine have had their ups and downs. In 1998 he won the event which helped propel him past Tommy Johnson, Jr. for the Top Fuel championship. Then in 1999, he failed to qualify, ending any hopes for a championship that season, the only IHRA title he hasn't won since he came onto the IHRA Top Fuel scene in 1997. Last season, Romine fouled in a final round showdown with rival Bruce Litton.
"Other than '99, the Empire Nationals has been good to the CARQUEST team," Romine said. "It's an important race because it's my sponsor's event and we want to keep pace with Clay (Millican) and Bruce (Litton) in the championship hunt."
Clay Millican, winner of the last IHRA race at Cordova, Illinois, June 15, currently leads the Top Fuel points chase with 447. Last year's Empire Nationals winner Litton is second with 424, followed closely by Romine at 420.
"With six Top Fuel races left, the championship is wide open," states Romine. "It's too early in the season to be counting points; the name of the game is to win rounds and races."
In addition to 320 mph Top Fuel Dragsters, The CARQUEST Empire Nationals features supercharged vs. nitrous Mopar Performance Parts Pro Modifieds, 210 mph Screamin' Eagle Nitro Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Funny Cars and the world's fastest "Mountain Motor" Pro Stocks. Champions will also be crowned in eight Sportsman classes.
IHRA and New York International Raceway Park offer fan-friendly ticket pricing in order to provide "affordable, family entertainment". Adult General Admission tickets are $25 Friday and $35 Saturday and Sunday. Children 6-12 are admitted for $5 and all tickets include FREE parking and pit pass as IHRA "opens their locker room to the public" for pictures and autographs.
New York International Raceway Park is located in Leicester, NY, off Rt. 36 on New Road, an hour from Buffalo and Rochester. For ticket and camping information, call (716) 382-3030 or check out the race preview at www.ihra.com.
Prior to the event, Thursday, July 12th, Romine and the CARQUEST Top Fuel dragster will be at the CARQUEST store in Batavia, NY from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.