Englishtown Top Fuel notebook

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 MOPAR PARTS NATIONALS TOP FUEL NOTEBOOK *Up and down: Joe Amato continued his trend of all-or-nothing performances this season with a victory in the Keystone...


Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761

MOPAR PARTS NATIONALS TOP FUEL NOTEBOOK *Up and down: Joe Amato continued his trend of all-or-nothing performances this season with a victory in the Keystone Automotive Warehouse Dragster at the Lone Star Nationals earlier this month at Dallas. Amato, from Old Forge, Pa., has three victories and a runner-up finish in the first seven races this season. He lost in the first round at the other three races. He is second in the points. *Comeback trail: Larry Dixon climbed to 10th in the NHRA Winston point standings in the Miller Lite Dragster with his runner-up finish at the Lone Star Nationals, only his second trip into the top 10 this year. Dixon, from San Diego, was tied for 10th after the second event of the season, the ATSCO Nationals in late February at Phoenix. There's a good chance that Dixon will continue his upswing at the Mopar Parts Nationals. He has appeared in the final round of this event in both years of his young Top Fuel career, winning in 1995 and finishing runner-up to Joe Amato in 1996. *Weather or not: Top Fuel crew chiefs are some of the most skilled mechanics in the world, as they must factor countless mechanical variables when devising a tuneup. They need to be good weathermen, too. "Weather has become a big part of these cars," Cory McClenathan said. "The weather stations we have now on these trailers are much better than prior years. We can work with the air a lot better than we used to." Most pro teams have sophisticated, computerized weather equipment that reads temperature, barometric pressure and corrected altitude, all vital factors in a car's tuneup. Funny Car crew chief Ronnie Swearingen carries a pager that receives up-to-the-minute data from the weather station in the team's trailer, allowing Swearingen to make last-minute tuning changes in the staging lanes. *Mental boost: There are more rewards for making a Top Fuel pass in the 4.50-second range than just a time slip to save as a keepsake, Cory McClenathan said. McClenathan made the first 4.50-second pass of his career, 4.592 seconds, in the McDonald's Dragster at the Slick 50 Nationals presented by Western Auto in March. At the time, he was just the fourth driver in NHRA history to break into the 4.50's. The others were Joe Amato and Kenny Bernstein, second and third, respectively in the NHRA Winston point standings, and the late Blaine Johnson. "We proved that we can run with those guys," McClenathan said. "We can run .50's, we can run low .60's. But doing it consistently, that's the biggest deal." *Mr. Consistency: There's no secret behind rookie Gary Scelzi's rise to the top of the NHRA Winston Top Fuel point standings in the Team Winston Dragster: consistency. Scelzi, from Fresno, Calif., is the only Top Fuel driver to win at least one round in all seven NHRA national events this season. *Performance prediction: A major Top Fuel performance barrier could be scaled at the Mopar Parts Nationals if cool weather prevails, Cory McClenathan said. "I think the biggest thing you're going to see is miles per hour," McClenathan said. "I think we may see 320 there. That's the one that everybody is going for. We count on the weather being decent enough, and we can adjust if it isn't." The fastest speed in NHRA history is 318.69 mph by Kenny Bernstein in October 1996 at Dallas. Bernstein also set the speed track record at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, 309.17, at the 1995 Mopar Parts Nationals. McClenathan thinks the elapsed-time track record of 4.665 seconds, set by Larry Dixon in 1995, also is ripe to fall. "We're going to see some 4.50's, definitely," McClenathan said. *McVisit to Big Apple: The McDonald's NHRA race cars, and team drivers Cory McClenathan, Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car) and Jim Yates (Pro Stock), will sign autographs at the McDonalds Times Square restaurant in the heart of New York from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. May 14. The McDonald's Top Fuel dragster and Funny Car will be parked in front of the McDonald's restaurant, located at Broadway between 46th and 47th streets. *Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 3 p.m. May 16 and continues at 7 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. May 17. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. May 18. DuPont Automotive Finishes Pro Stock Challenge rounds are scheduled for 1 p.m., 3:45 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. May 17. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 10 a.m. May 15. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the Mopar Parts Nationals. Call Old Bridge Township Raceway Park at (908) 446-7800. Tickets also are available at Ticketmaster outlets. Call Ticketmaster at (212) 307-7171, (201) 507-8900, (914) 454-3388 or (516) 888-9000. *On TV: The Nashville Network (TNN) will televise 90 minutes of live, final-round competition from the Mopar Parts Nationals at 4:30 p.m. (EDT) May 18. TNN also will show one hour of live, first-round racing during its "NHRA Today" show at 11 a.m. May 18. TNN will show one hour of live, final-round competition from the DuPont Automotive Finishes Pro Stock Challenge at 5 p.m. May 17. *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 and driver biographies. -30- 5/6/97-EJ2-070

Jack Durbin indy500@freenet.tlh.fl.us Motorsport News International jackd@motorsport.com (Moderators for "rec.autos.sport.info") Homepage http://www.freenet.tlh.fl.us/users/indy500/index.html

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan