FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 NEW ERA OF PERFORMANCE SHOULD CONTINUE AT NATIONAL TRAIL RACEWAY HEBRON, Ohio -- Unlike last year, there will be no surprises when NHRA race teams calculate the level...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761
NEW ERA OF PERFORMANCE SHOULD CONTINUE AT NATIONAL TRAIL RACEWAY HEBRON, Ohio -- Unlike last year, there will be no surprises when NHRA race teams calculate the level of performance needed to win the Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing at National Trail Raceway. The formula for success will be simple: Big numbers, all the time. Record elapsed times and speeds could be essential for victory at the 33rd annual, $1,452,450 Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing, June 12-15 at National Trail Raceway. The race is the 10th event of the 22-event, $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series in 1997. Before last season, National Trail Raceway wasn't regarded as one of the elite performance palaces in NHRA Winston Drag Racing.. The track surface was one of the trickiest on the NHRA circuit, forcing crew chiefs and drivers to take a conservative approach during qualifying and eliminations. NHRA elapsed-time and speed national records rarely were threatened at Columbus in recent years. All that changed last year. The quarter-mile track was repaved before last year's event, creating a new era of unparalleled performance at the historic facility. For example, Kenny Bernstein produced a stunning elapsed time of 4.608 seconds in the Budweiser King Dragster during Top Fuel qualifying. That run instantly erased the National Trail's past reputation as a temperamental track. At the time, Bernstein's pass was the quickest in NHRA history and obliterated the track record of 4.743 seconds set by Scott Kalitta in 1995 on the old racing surface. Bernstein also produced a speed of 313.15 mph on that run, more than 7 mph faster than Kalitta's track record of 306.12 set in 1995. John Force made the first four-second pass by a Funny Car at National Trail, 4.977, in his Castrol GTX entry during qualifying. That run was exactly one-tenth of a second -- a huge margin in drag racing -- quicker than his track record set in 1994. That trend continued in Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle, as elapsed-time and speed track records were set by wide margins. Another trend that could continue this year at this event is the emergence of a surprise winner. At least one of the pro winners every year since 1993 entered this event outside the top five of the NHRA Winston point standings. Two of those drivers earned their first career pro victories at Columbus: Doug Herbert in Top Fuel in 1993 and Steve Schmidt in 1995. A surprise winner would jumble the point standings, which remain tight in all four pro categories. Only 80 points separate second-place Chuck Etchells and fifth-place Tony Pedregon after eight races. The closest race is in Pro Stock, where leader Warren Johnson is just 13 points ahead of second-place Jim Yates. Matt Hines leads second-place John Myers by 87 points in Pro Stock Motorcycle. *Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 3 p.m. June 13 and continues at 7 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at noon and 4 p.m. June 14. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. June 15. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 8 a.m. June 12. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing. Call NHRA Ticketing at (800) 884-6472. *On TV: ABC will televise one hour of highlights from the Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing at 1 p.m. (EDT) June 22. -30-
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