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TOUGH RECORD BOOK MAY OPEN THIS SEASON AT BANDIMERE SPEEDWAY MORRISON, Colo. -- While NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car teams have been obliterating track record books across the nation this season with impressive performance after impressive...

TOUGH RECORD BOOK MAY OPEN THIS SEASON AT BANDIMERE SPEEDWAY MORRISON, Colo. -- While NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car teams have been obliterating track record books across the nation this season with impressive performance after impressive performance, one track always seems to stand tough against the assault. At Bandimere Speedway, NHRA's quarter-mile in the clouds, the high altitudes and heated summertime weather conditions combine to make NHRA teams work extra hard to find the right combination for optimum performance. Drivers in those high-powered categories will be on Cloud 9 should they eclipse one of Bandimere's long-standing track records. Consider Top Fuel: Joe Amato's 1998 event-best elapsed time of 4.852 seconds didn't even come close to the track record of 4.703 seconds, established by the late Blaine Johnson in 1996. Whit Bazemore's low e.t. of 5.167 seconds couldn't overtake the track record of 5.042 set by Funny Car dominator John Force, also established in 1996. The speed records in those categories were also posted as far back as 1996 and 1997. However, there may be hope this season as NHRA teams prepare for the 21st annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, July 15-18 at Bandimere Speedway. The new five-disc clutch may allow Top Fuel and Funny Car teams to push the issue and set track records. The new technology has launched the 6,000 horsepower machines to track records for time and speed at every NHRA event to date. Teams have produced a string of the quickest and fastest speeds in NHRA history, including national record runs of 4.486 seconds, 326.44 mph in Top Fuel, and 4.788 seconds, 324.05 mph in Funny Car. While the challenge to achieve record-setting performances will produce thrilling action on the track during the historic event, teams will also continue to focus their efforts in the quest to earn valuable points toward an NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series championship. The $1.6 million race is the 12th of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. Cory McClenathan, Tony Pedregon, Jeg Coughlin and Matt Hines are the defending winners in their respective professional categories. McClenathan, from Anaheim, Calif., defeated Joe Amato from the No. 1 qualifying position last season for his second-straight victory at the Denver quarter-mile. McClenathan, driving the MBNA dragster, will try for three in a row this season, but will face tough opposition from Winston points leader Mike Dunn, Budweiser King dragster driver Kenny Bernstein, two-time season winner Doug Herbert and defending Winston champion Gary Scelzi, a three-time winner this season. Pedregon, from Gardena, Calif., earned a holeshot victory over Ron Capps in a close Funny Car final last season. Pedregon, currently second in Winston points behind the wheel of his Syntec Castrol GTX Mustang, will be among favorites to win again this year. His teammate and car owner, John Force, is a three-time winner at Bandimere Speedway and is having one of the finest seasons of his career with seven victories to date. Other top Funny Car challengers include Whit Bazemore, Tommy Johnson Jr., Dean Skuza and Scotty Cannon. Columbus, Ohio's Coughlin added a victory to his impressive season here one year ago, by using his Jeg's Mail Order Oldsmobile Cutlass to outpower top qualifier Warren Johnson's GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird in a photo-finish final round. The two drivers are among top contenders this season, as Johnson leads the Winston point standings with five victories. Kurt Johnson, Troy Coughlin and Jim Yates are also among favored drivers in the category. Hines, from Trinidad, Colo., rode his Eagle One Suzuki to victory over Angelle Seeling in the Pro Stock Motorcycle final last year, solidifying his position at the top of the bike order. This season the tables have turned and Seeling is leading the Winston point standings with four victories. Hines has suffered early season problems while trying to break-in a brand new Suzuki. However, Hines recently claimed his first win of the season and appears to have figured out the right setup for his new bike. Another key player in the bike wars is Antron Brown, rider of Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Troy Vincent's Team 23 Suzuki. Brown has earned two wins and has his sights set on winning a Winston Drag Racing Series championship as well.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Antron Brown , Matt Hines , Jeg Coughlin , Troy Coughlin , Mike Dunn , Kenny Bernstein , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Joe Amato , Scotty Cannon , Cory McClenathan , Tommy Johnson Jr.