MARTINO RIDES THE WAVES IN COLUMBUS Despite improvement, CENTURY 21( Racing team dealt early exit at the 35th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals Kirkersville, Ohio, June 14, 1999 - Tom Martino's experience at this past weekend's NHRA Pontiac...
MARTINO RIDES THE WAVES IN COLUMBUS
Despite improvement, CENTURY 21( Racing team dealt early exit at the 35th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals
Kirkersville, Ohio, June 14, 1999 - Tom Martino's experience at this past weekend's NHRA Pontiac Excitement Nationals was a series of highs and lows. During Friday's opening qualifying sessions, Martino recorded two competitive times in the heat which temporarily placed him in the field for Sunday's final eliminations. With temperatures again reaching into the 90's on Saturday, Martino and the rest of the Pro Stock contingent battled the tricky National Trail Raceway surface. Martino and the others who were qualified attempted to better their position, while those outside the top sixteen struggled to gain entry, with only one accomplishing their goal.
In the final countdown, Tom Martino and the CENTURY 21( Firebird secured the 13th position, setting the stage for a first-round encounter with fourth qualifier Mike Thomas. Martino knew he would have to cede lane choice to his opponent, making his path to success more difficult. Therefore, the team went through their racecar on Sunday morning, implementing changes in search of performance. As he had throughout the event, Martino had mixed results. Although he was able record his quickest elapsed time of the weekend, Thomas' slightly better e.t. was able to edge Martino's 7.073-second effort.
"We knew we needed to step it up after qualifying if we wanted to win rounds," stated Martino. "So we made some rather significant changes to our CENTURY 21( Firebird on Saturday night to try and get down the track better. Without lane choice, we knew we'd get the right lane, which has the dips in it that upset the car. Although we did manage to improve our time by a hundredth, we weren't happy with the results or the run. We have some work to do before the next event."
Within moments of returning to his pits, Martino set plans in motion for the next race. Meetings were held to secure additional equipment, which was then included in the inventory. As soon as everything was loaded, the team departed for New Jersey, with a detailed work and testing schedule for the next week already mapped out.
"We are not happy with simply qualifying at any race," explained a determined Martino. "Each time we pull into a race track, we are there to win. We're making some big changes in our equipment over the next two weeks to get ourselves back in the hunt. We're planning on having a much better showing at the St. Louis race in two weeks. We owe it to CENTURY 21(, Pontiac, our fans and ourselves."
In Sunday's final, Warren Johnson defeated hometown favorite Jeg Coughlin for his fifth win of the season. The next stop on the NHRA Winston Drag Racing schedule is in Madison, Illinois for the 3rd annual Sears Craftsman Nationals at Gateway International Raceway, June 24-26.