Gainesville: Martino Moments Gatornationals

Martino Moments Martino's Gatornationals ride ends early After destroying their primary engine on their last qualifying attempt, Tom Martino and the Jesel Motorsports crew faced a stiff challenge in getting their Grand Am ready for Sunday's...

Martino Moments
Martino's Gatornationals ride ends early

After destroying their primary engine on their last qualifying attempt, Tom Martino and the Jesel Motorsports crew faced a stiff challenge in getting their Grand Am ready for Sunday's first round of eliminations at the Mac Tools Gatornationals. Although the task of replacing the powerplant was simple enough, the difficulty came in making the crucial tuning adjustments necessary to extract the maximum performance from their race car based on the conditions.

Due to the differences in the two engines, the team would have to take the data gathered during qualifying and adjust for the heavier weight and decreased power of the new motor. As if this was not enough, their task was complicated even further when the air compressor failed on their transporter, forcing them to make emergency repairs.

Martino's assignment did not get any easier once he reached the first round, as he faced No.2 qualifier Tom Hammonds, who had been one of the most consistent cars in qualifying. Martino knew it would take a strong performance by both race car and driver to pull off the upset.

Running in the less preferred right lane, Martino did his job, as he gained the advantage by over four hundredths of a second at the starting line. Unfortunately, his car did not cooperate, as it slowed to a 6.970-second elapsed time, allowing his opponent to overcome his lead and cut short the Farmingdale, NJ native's day.

"We really never made what I would call a good run all weekend. We were fortunate that our primary motor had enough horsepower to go 6.87 on a mediocre run and get us in the show. Unfortunately, we threw the rods out of it on our last qualifying pass, which forced us to put our second motor in, which isn't very good. That meant we had to make a bunch of changes to the race car.

"It was a good news, bad news situation. On the good side, we made all the right changes. Unfortunately, we didn't compensate and put in enough clutch. So we're exceptionally happy with how the car responded, knowing that if we had made those changes in qualifying, we would have placed where we should have. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough confidence in those decisions to put the right amount of clutch in it, opting instead to meet it halfway.

"If we had done that, we could have run a 6.89 or 6.90 in that right lane and advanced to the second round. Instead, we ran a 6.97 absolutely losing the clutch. Even though I knew I had nuked the clutch, I had left on him by over four hundredths and didn't see him at the 330-foot mark, so I drove it down to the end, hoping he'd have a problem. But Tommy Hammonds is running well, and got around us with a 6.88. We only needed a 6.93, which was slower than any of my qualifying runs, but we fell short today.

"We're under the gun right now, because we need to run well in these early races to attract a sponsor. We're going to move on from here, spend the next two weeks getting ready for Las Vegas, and get after it there."

-mm-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tom Hammonds