No holiday fun planned for Team Pennzoil's working weekend BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug 12) -- The National Hot Rod Association's 18th annual trek into the heart of Minnesota's vacation country for the Colonel's Truck Accessories Nationals Aug. 19-22...
No holiday fun planned for Team Pennzoil's working weekend
BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug 12) -- The National Hot Rod Association's 18th annual trek into the heart of Minnesota's vacation country for the Colonel's Truck Accessories Nationals Aug. 19-22 at Brainerd International Raceway couldn't come at a better time for the professional drivers of Team Pennzoil. With a rash of recent successes and a record book full of fond memories at BIR, every man on the team is excited about improving their current standings with a prosperous working weekend in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Here's a look at each Pennzoil driver's plan of attack for this race.
Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, is anxious to earn his way back into the tightest points race his division has seen in several years. With the equivalent of one race win separating the top eight drivers, the 63-year-old Hill knows that the challenge for the championship is far from over.
"If my boss (God) is willing to grant us a miracle or two and I get this Pennzoil car down the track four times on Race Day," Hill said, "we could be right back in the middle of the closest race I can recall in some time. We certainly have shown that we have the power.
"One of our primary goals is to be the fastest and quickest car in Top Fuel. Well, we were exactly that in Seattle two races ago and we were that again for one day at the last race in Sonoma. Hopefully we're peaking at the right time. We just need to stay on the friendly side of that balancing act we're always doing between getting all of our 6,200 horses onto the track or over-powering the thing and going up in smoke.
"I'd dearly love to win in Brainerd. It's really like a second home to me there and it even looks like the piney woods of East Texas where I grew up. I'm fired up."
Hill has qualified for 13 races this season and won eight individual elimination rounds. He is currently in 12th place in the Winston championship points standings.
Bruce Allen, the driver of The Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac, has three wins and three runner-up finishes in a span of seven years at the Northstar Nationals, making him the most prolific member of Team Pennzoil in the state of Minnesota. Allen's incredible streak in Brainerd has him extremely excited about his return.
"There is no reason to think we won't do well again this year," Allen said. "Our entire program is on the upswing and obviously, we've had some great luck in Brainerd. I really don't know why we run so well there. Maybe there's something in the air that agrees with this Outlaw car. If that's the case I might need to bottle it up and bring it with me."
Since the passing of co-owner Buddy Morrison in December and the ensuing slow start to the 1999 season, the Outlaw crew has rebounded nicely this summer with four straight elimination-round appearances. In all, Allen has qualified for seven races and logged one elimination round win this year. He is currently in 17th place in the points standings.
Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, finds himself in the midst of a serious points race as the 22-event NHRA circuit arrives at its 15th race of the season. Thomas has accumulated enough points in his six elimination round wins and 11 Race Day appearances this year to earn the No. 12 spot in the Winston standings. He enters Brainerd just 28 points out of the top 10, making that advancement his top priority.
"Every round I win is 20 more points for this Pennzoil team," Thomas said. "And believe me, at this point in the season we're counting every single round. A win at BIR could move us as high as eighth. I certainly believe that we have the car and motor that can take us to the winner's circle. For us, it's crunch time. Every win means more as the season wears down and every mistake is amplified. You'll see some serious racing going on in Brainerd."
Mike Ferderer, the sportsman-class pilot of the Pennzoil Super Gas Pontiac Grand Prix and the Gumout Super Comp Dragster, has already carded six wins this season, making him the No. 1 driver in the world in both divisions. So far in 1999 he has recorded a rare double win in Seattle, taken the title of a Super Comp race in Tucson, Ariz. and two more Super Comp events in Phoenix while also notching a Super Gas win in Boise, Idaho.
"I'd love to keep right on winning in Brainerd," Ferderer said. "I've won there before (Super Gas in 1996 and Super Comp in '91) and I know for a fact that my cars love the track because I went a bunch of rounds in both of them at the last points race there. I love going to Brainerd. I've always treated this like a summer holiday and I guess that makes me more relaxed on the track. It's such a great race with super fans. It's an awesome place."