Century 21 Pro Stock Firebird pilot Tom Martino had his strongest outing of the season at today's final eliminations of the Advance Auto Parts NHRA Southern Nationals. After using the quickest pass of the final qualifying session to claim the...
Century 21 Pro Stock Firebird pilot Tom Martino had his strongest outing of the season at today's final eliminations of the Advance Auto Parts NHRA Southern Nationals. After using the quickest pass of the final qualifying session to claim the 5th starting spot, Martino used a solid run to defeat up-and-coming driver Jamie Yates. In the second round, Martino must have thought he was seeing double, as he staged against a car that was identical in appearance to his first round opponent. This time, however, the driver was Jamie's father, Jim, who also had the distinct advantage of being able to choose his lane for the run against Martino. In one of the few victories obtained on the less-preferred right side of the track, Martino used a four hundredths of a second starting line advantage to defeat the slightly quicker Yates. Martino's 7.008-second elapsed time also meant he had reacquired lane choice against veteran Bruce Allen in the semi-finals. In this case, however, the tables were turned as Allen gained the edge at the start, with Martino's 7.029-second effort falling five thousandths of a second shy of a comeback win. "The way we have our car set-up this weekend, I couldn't do anything with the tree. We knew we had the wrong clutch set-up for a good reaction time, but since we were getting away with it with good elapsed times, we thought we'd stick with it. In the round before against Yates, I had a .480 light, and that was all I could do. For the run against Bruce (Allen), we took a little clutch out if it and I slowed down to a .490. Bruce had a hard time getting down the right lane, and I had lane choice and outran him, but it wasn't enough. The final margin of victory was only five thousandths, so if I had made just a little better run, we would have won.
"We're going to do some testing before Englishtown and get that clutch set-up out of there. It's just not something we can run in the summer. After the first round, we changed the car drastically and it paid off. We moved the suspension, switched gear ratios and clutch packs and the weight. That 7 flat we ran in the bad lane against Yates was awesome. We left it alone for the semis, thinking we'd go 6.98. It was on its way - at the 330-foot mark we were two hundredths faster that the previous run. Unfortunately, we ran into something on the track, which I suspect was clutch dust from the fuel cars, which took us out of the groove. I'm not using that as an excuse, because I'm sure Bruce had to run through it on his side. It's just something to consider.
"Even so, this was still a great weekend for the Century 21 Pro Stock Firebird Racing Team. Anytime you can reach the semi-finals, you've had a good day."