Tom Martino had high hopes heading into Sunday's final eliminations at the O'Reilly Fall Nationals in Ennis, Texas. After all, the CENTURY 21( Firebird pilot had reset his career marks in both elapsed time and speed several times in qualifying...
Tom Martino had high hopes heading into Sunday's final eliminations at the O'Reilly Fall Nationals in Ennis, Texas. After all, the CENTURY 21( Firebird pilot had reset his career marks in both elapsed time and speed several times in qualifying third, and was among the leaders throughout qualifying. His confidence grew even further after recording the quickest pass of the round and his third consecutive 200-mph run in eliminating Mark Pawuk. However, Martino's chances for victory came to an abrupt halt in the second round when after grabbing an advantage of nearly five hundredths of a second at the start over Jim Yates, his mount pulled violently to the right, forcing Martino to lift completely off the throttle to regain control.
"Our car had been pulling to the left a little in the left lane, so we lowered the right wheelie bar a little for the first round, and it seemed to help. For the run against Jim (Yates), I brought it down a little further, but didn't lower the left one enough. As a result, it didn't use the left wheelie bar at all when I launched. That pulled it off to the right and out of the groove, and it was done.
"Although I'm happy with our performance here this weekend, I'm more disappointed than usual, because in racing there are times you know you'll need a couple breaks to win and times that you think you can just win.
"Today I thought was a day we could win with this CENTURY 21( Firebird. The way we ran this weekend, the only car I felt could run with us was Warren (Johnson). I know we were faster than the rest, and our numbers back me up. I felt that as long as I did my job driving that we would keep lane choice into the final, and then I'd take my chances with WJ.
"But overall, this was a very good weekend for us. Not only did we set career marks in both elapsed time and top speed, and get into the Speed-Pro 200-mph Club, but we were consistent every time down the track. That's the type of performance we've been looking for. If we keep that up, I'm confident the wins will come very soon."