Baytown: Jay Payne preview

Payne to try for seventh victory at Houston Raceway Park HOUSTON (April 5) -- World champion drag racer Jay Payne is one of the most decorated drivers in Houston Raceway Park history, having won five national events and one divisional race at...

Payne to try for seventh victory at Houston Raceway Park

HOUSTON (April 5) -- World champion drag racer Jay Payne is one of the most decorated drivers in Houston Raceway Park history, having won five national events and one divisional race at the southeast Texas speedplant. But it would be a mistake to think the FireIce/BME-sponsored pro is satisfied with his half dozen HRP victories.

"I've been at this a long time," the 60-year-old Payne said from his Ontario, Calif.-based shop. "We've won some championships (13) and a bunch of races (103), but you want more. You want the Wally. That's why we do this crazy stuff."

Payne arrives in Texas for this weekend's 23rd annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals with a great chance at revisiting the winner's circle. This time through he'll be competing in Pro Mod, which became an official NHRA class in 2010. Prior to this year, Pro Mod was contested as an exhibition category.

The Houston stop is the second of the season for the popular class. At the first stop in Gainesville, Fla., Payne qualified a lofty second on the grid with a near-world-record pass of 5.887 seconds at 241.28 mph before losing a close contest to Qatari racer Khalid Al-Balooshi in Round 2 of eliminations.

"The FireIce/BME Camaro was great in Florida," Payne said. "We lost a traction in the quarterfinals but that wasn't the car's fault; we were just off a touch with the tune-up. We put the motor on the dyno and made a few pulls since then and it looks great. We won't be changing anything for Houston."

Payne has won three times each in Top Alcohol Funny Car (2004, 2006, and 2008) and Top Alcohol Dragster (1989, 1993, and 1997) in past visits to HRP. He has never won this event in Pro Mod.

"It would be neat to get one under our belt now that Pro Mod is an official category," said Payne, a seven-time winner in NHRA Pro Mod action. "It's certainly something we'd like to accomplish soon. You know, Pro Mod racing in the NHRA always has been very, very tough so there's really no difference in the level of competition. It's still the best of the best from around the world. The only difference is we're going after a Wally now instead of the other trophies they've had.

"We're very interested in representing FireIce and all the firefighters to the best of our abilities. That's always our No. 1 job, no matter what else happens."

FireIce is an environmentally friendly fire suppression gel firefighters add to water in pumper trucks, helicopters, fire planes, and handheld extinguishers to help extinguish fires much quicker than with water alone.

Aside from sponsoring Payne's racecars and saluting the nation's 1.1 million firefighters through its association with his race team, FireIce, a subsidiary of GelTech Solutions Inc., a publically-traded corporation (OTCBB: GLTC), is a corporate partner to the Fallen Firefighters Foundation, which helps firefighters in need.

"Jay Payne and Brad Anderson are wonderful marketing partners," said Michael Cordani, CEO of GelTech. "What they do for our company, both on and off the racetrack, is special. The time they spend with the firefighters around the country makes such a positive impact. The firefighters really feel like they're a big part of this race team, and they are, so Jay and Brad have become incredible ambassadors for us."

-source: jay payne

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jay Payne