In a division where wins and losses are decided by thousandths of a second, how a Pro Stock driver reacts to the "Christmas tree" plays a major role in deciding the outcome. This sets the stage for some of the most exciting parts of eliminations,...
In a division where wins and losses are decided by thousandths of a second, how a Pro Stock driver reacts to the "Christmas tree" plays a major role in deciding the outcome. This sets the stage for some of the most exciting parts of eliminations, the staging battles waged by the competitors at the starting line. For the most part, neither racer wants to be the first to stage, as they try to avoid being left sitting at the line. However, in order to prevent the delay from being too long, there is an unwritten rule that states the second car must stage within five seconds of the first vehicle lighting the second set of beams, signifying they are ready to race.
In the first round of today's Pontiac Excitement Nationals, Tom Martino was engaged in one of these starting line encounters with Allen Johnson. After promptly positioning themselves in the pre-stage beams, the two "doorslammers" sat motionless for several seconds, almost daring the other to stage. Johnson finally relented and moved forward, with NHRA official starter Rick Stewart starting the countdown. Fully aware of the situation, Martino slowly edged the CENTURY 21 Firebird forward in anticipation of a start. However, before Martino could complete his staging procedure, Stewart activated the tree. This disqualified Martino and handed the automatic win to his opponent. Afterwards, Martino seemed perplexed by the turn of events. "Everything was proceeding as normal. We both took our time, with Allen going in first. However, before I had a chance to stage, the red light came on. I'm not sure what happened, but it seemed a lot shorter than five seconds.
"It's frustrating to lose without even being able to run the race. The only consolation is that we made progress with the CENTURY 21 Firebird throughout the weekend, and qualified well. It's just a shame we couldn't show how good it was on Sunday."