Atalnta Pro Stock notebook

FRAM NATIONALS PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK *A natural: Tom Martino used two "holeshot" victories to earn his first career Pro Stock victory at the Slick 50 Nationals presented by Western Auto last month at Houston, and he doesn't even practice...

FRAM NATIONALS PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK

*A natural: Tom Martino used two "holeshot" victories to earn his first career Pro Stock victory at the Slick 50 Nationals presented by Western Auto last month at Houston, and he doesn't even practice his starting-line skills.

A "holeshot" occurs when a driver wins a race despite a slower elapsed time than his opponent. This happens when a driver's advantage in reaction time is greater than his opponent's advantage in elapsed time. Remember, the clock in each lane starts when the driver leaves the starting line, not when the light turns green.

Martino recorded "holeshot" victories against defending NHRA Winston champion Jim Yates in the quarterfinals and Kurt Johnson in the semifinals, earning $500 for each from the Slick 50 Performance Awards program. Martino recorded four reaction times between .415 and .455 during eliminations in the MaMa Rosa's Pizza Pontiac Firebird, a superb performance considering that .400 is perfect.

"My reaction times have been good, but it's not something that I practice on," Martino said. "Anytime that I work with a practice tree, it just makes it worse. I just go in there and let out the clutch.

"Of course when I beat Jim Yates, I just closed my eyes and let the clutch out. We got lucky and got around him."

*Hammonds makes deal: Denver Nuggets forward Tom Hammonds will return to Pro Stock at the end of the NBA season with major backing from Mac Tools and Wendy's.

Hammonds plans to begin his 10-race season in an Oldsmobile Cutlass at the Mopar Parts Nationals in Englishtown, N.J., and finish at the Pioneer Electronics Keystone Nationals in Reading, Pa., where he had a memorable barrel-roll down the track last September. Hammonds made his NHRA debut at the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals last July in Denver.

"I got a taste of what it felt like to run in Pro Stock last year, and it has been hard to get it out of my mouth," Hammonds said.

*Maskin resurfaces: As expected, it didn't take long for crew chief and engine builder Richard Maskin to find a new home after he and defending NHRA Winston Pro Stock champion Jim Yates ended their partnership in late February.

Maskin has teamed with the Carrier Pontiac Firebird team owned by Troy Humphrey, with driver Rickie Smith.

Smith raced with a Steve Schmidt-built engine through the Mac Tools Gatornationals in early March. He qualified 12th at the Slick 50 Nationals presented by Western Auto, his first race with Maskin, and lost in the first round.

*The revolving door: The changes continue at a blinding pace in NHRA Pro Stock racing, as two other teams made significant moves recently.

John Kight has purchased a Steve Schmidt engine and a Richard Maskin engine for use in his JK Racing Pontiac Firebird, driven by 1996 NHRA Winston co-Rookie of the Year Mike Edwards.

Meanwhile, driver Troy Coughlin released crew chief Buddy Ingersoll and his crew after the Slick 50 Nationals.

"It was basically a business decision, one that obviously wasn't in the script at the beginning of the year," Coughlin said. "We will still continue to run motors built and maintained by Warren Johnson since our relationship has already demonstrated great success."

Veteran crew chief Donnie Gardner will replace Ingersoll, Coughlin said.

*Tough at home: Kurt Johnson's home in Lawrenceville, Ga., is only a 35-minute drive from Atlanta Dragway, but don't think for a second that racing near home is easier than being on the road.

"You get less sleep than you do at an event away from home," Johnson said. "In the morning, you're driving by the shop and thinking about what you've got to bring to the racetrack, so you stop. And then on the way back, you've got to stop again and spend another hour there.

"You get about five hours of sleep a night."

*Performance prediction: There's a good chance at this event that a Pro Stock will break into the six-second zone at Atlanta Dragway for the first time, Kurt Johnson said.

"Atlanta can still be a pretty good racetrack as long as you get a little bit of cloud cover," Johnson said. "You've got a lot of oxygen there because of the trees. I think you'll see some high 6.90's."

The elapsed-time track record for Pro Stock is 7.007 seconds set in 1995 by Johnson's father, three-time NHRA Winston champion Warren Johnson.

*Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 3 p.m. April 11 and continues at 7 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. April 12. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. April 13. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 10 a.m. April 10.

*Tickets: Tickets are available for the Fram Nationals. Call NHRA Ticket Information at (800) 884-6472 for ticket information.

*On TV: ESPN2 will televise two hours of live, final-round competition from the Fram Nationals at 4 p.m. (EDT) April 13. ESPN2 also will show two hours of live, Friday-night qualifying at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) April 11.

*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- 3/31/97-AG4-051

Jack Durbin indy500@freenet.tlh.fl.us Motorsport News International jackd@motorsport.com (Moderators for "rec.autos.sport.info") Homepage http://www.freenet.tlh.fl.us/users/indy500/index.html

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Troy Coughlin , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Tom Hammonds , Tom Martino , Steve Schmidt , Rickie Smith , Mike Edwards