Report from Motorsports News International CHIEF AUTO PARTS NATIONALS PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK --Championship scenario: Jim Yates must win one round at this event to clinch his first NHRA Winston Pro Stock championship in the ...
Report from Motorsports News International
CHIEF AUTO PARTS NATIONALS PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK
--Championship scenario: Jim Yates must win one round at this event to clinch his first NHRA Winston Pro Stock championship in the McDonald's Pontiac Firebird.
Yates, from Alexandria, Va., took a 226-point lead over defending NHRA Winston champion Warren Johnson after winning the Sears Craftsman Nationals Sept. 29 at Topeka, Kan.
"The championship is basically ours to lose at this point," Yates said. "Warren has to be perfect to win it, and we have to really mess up.
"We're going to go to Dallas and try to qualify and go out there on Sunday and have a good time," Yates said. "It's called racing, and we're going to enjoy racing. If you win, that's a bonus, that's icing on the cake."
--Career year: It's obvious that Jim Yates is enjoying a career year as he heads toward his first NHRA Winston Pro Stock championship.
But a closer look at the statistics indicates just what a breakthrough season Yates is enjoying. He has seven victories in 1996 in the McDonald's Pontiac Firebird; he entered this season with two in his career, which started in 1989. He has appeared in 10 final rounds this season; he had raced in only 13 before this year.
--Thanks, guys: Bruce Allen's slow but steady comeback in Pro Stock has been aided by his sponsor, Slick 50, in more ways than one.
Sure, the financial support is invaluable. But Slick 50's attitude also has been crucial since it became the team's sponsor in 1995, Allen said.
"We kind of told them them going in that we're not going to just go out there and all of the sudden be back on top," Allen said. "It's going to take longer. They've been really patient, really supportive."
--Third-generation Johnson: There could be another member of the famous Johnson family in Pro Stock racing -- in about 20 years or so.
Kurt Johnson's wife, Kathy, is expecting their first child in November. The child will be Warren and Arlene Johnson's first grandchild.
"In six more weeks we'll have five Johnsons in the house -- two dogs and three people," Kurt Johnson said. "Everybody says that having a kid changes your life, and I'm sure it will be an experience.
"As far as another Johnson in drag racing, we're going to teach him how to operate a broom first -- that's how I started."
Kurt Johnson worked in a variety of roles for his father's championship-winning team before making his Pro Stock driving debut in 1993. He was NHRA Winston Rookie of the Year that season.
--Dark horse: While Jim Yates and Warren Johnson have dominated the performance and victory charts in Pro Stock this season, don't count out Kurt Johnson as a possible winner of the Chief Auto Parts Nationals.
Kurt Johnson has won this event two of the last three years, as he beat unheralded Bob Patrick Jr. last year and Warren Johnson in 1993.
--Performance prediction: NHRA Pro Stock drivers could produce the quickest field in history if the weather is cool at the Chief Auto Parts Nationals, Bruce Allen said.
The quickest field in NHRA Pro Stock history came at the Pioneer Electronics Keystone Nationals last month at Reading, Pa., where Danny Coffman rounded out the field in the No. 16 spot at 7.037 seconds.
"The Pro Stock bump could be 7.02, 7.01," Allen said, referring to the elapsed time of the No. 16 qualifier. "You could potentially have a lot of six-second cars.
"That track, you have a higher barometer to start with because it's only 500 feet in elevation. If you have cool conditions, you'll have more power available. Texas always has enough teeth when we're racing there to run good . It's smooth as glass. You have the potential to have a real fast deal."
More oxygen exists in the air at lower elevations, and normally- aspirated Pro Stock engines must gulp oxygen to create horsepower.
--Next year: Two NHRA national events will take place at Texas Motorplex next season. Here are the dates:
May 1-4: Inaugural national event.
Oct. 16-19: 12th annual Chief Auto Parts Nationals.
--Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 3 p.m. Oct. 11 and is followed by a night-qualifying session at 7 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at noon and 4 p.m. Oct. 12, with final eliminations starting at 11 a.m. Oct. 13. Sportsman competition starts at 9 a.m. Oct. 10.
--Tickets: Tickets are available for the Chief Auto Parts Nationals. For ticket information, call (800) 668-6775, or (972) 878-2641 in metropolitan Dallas. Tickets also can be purchased at Ticketmaster outlets.
--On TV: ESPN will televise 60 minutes of same-day, final-round competition from the Chief Auto Parts Nationals at 9 p.m. (CDT) Oct. 13.
--On the Web: The NHRA home page on the World Wide Web at http://www.goracing.com/nhra/ offers more information about NHRA Winston Drag Racing, including qualifying and eliminations results, news, point standings, statistics, driver biographies and video clips. -30-
Paul Kelly NHRA Communications
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