ROUTE 66 THROWS MARTINO A CURVE CENTURY 21 Racing team battles changing elements at the 2nd annual Fram Route 66 Nationals Joliet, Illinois, June 6, 1999 - Tom Martino was ready to race when he arrived in Illinois for the 2nd annual Fram...
ROUTE 66 THROWS MARTINO A CURVE
CENTURY 21 Racing team battles changing elements at the 2nd annual Fram Route 66 Nationals
Joliet, Illinois, June 6, 1999 - Tom Martino was ready to race when he arrived in Illinois for the 2nd annual Fram Route 66 Nationals. After all, he was fresh off a final round appearance at his home track in Englishtown, and the entire CENTURY 21( Racing team seemed to have finally reached a level of comfort in making their Firebird perform. However, their path to Route 66 Raceway winner's circle would be blocked by an additional challenge in the form of rapidly changing weather conditions. Cool temperatures and intermittent rain showers on Friday sent crew chiefs scrambling to find the right set-up, while blistering heat and drenching humidity on Saturday robbed the normally-aspirated Pro Stock field of critical horsepower. As it turned out, the final two qualifying sessions were an exercise in futility, as elapsed times recorded then could not come close to those from the first day's time trials. Unfortunately, Martino's best effort of 7.041 seconds found him outside the top sixteen for the first time in seven races.
"After the race in Englishtown, we thought we had a pretty good handle on adjusting our CENTURY 21( Pro Stock Firebird," stated Martino. "But conditions here this weekend were unlike any other we've faced with this particular car. As a result, we never really got it balanced enough to make a good run. With only one day and two sessions to make the field, that really cost us."
But the Martino crew spent little time pondering their misfortune, preferring to concentrate on finding a solution. Immediately after the conclusion of qualifying, work began on the CENTURY 21( Firebird. Despite having only four days before the next event in Columbus, an aggressive testing schedule was planned. Working to prepare their racecar throughout the day on Sunday, the team planned to remain at the Joliet quarter-mile on Monday in order to make countless passes under the same conditions that had thwarted them. Using Tuesday to travel, additional arrangements were made to run at another facility in Ohio on Wednesday. With warmer temperatures expected to be the norm, information gained here could be critical to future successes, starting with the next race.
"On one hand, it's good that we race again next weekend, because it gives us a chance to rebound right away," explained Martino. "But racing so soon also gives us little time to get things straightened out. We've already put this event behind us. Right now, our focus is on using the next few days to get our CENTURY 21( Firebird back in the thick of things in Columbus."
In Sunday's final, Warren Johnson defeated Troy Coughlin for his fourth win of the season. The NHRA Winston Drag Racing circuit now heads to Columbus, Ohio for the 35th annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals at National Trail Raceway, June 10-13.