GAINESVILLE, Fla. - While cut-throat rivalries in Top Fuel and Funny Car garner the majority of headlines these days, perhaps the most intense team-for-team assault of the 2000 NHRA Winston Drag Racing season will be waged on two-wheels. The...
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - While cut-throat rivalries in Top Fuel and Funny Car garner the majority of headlines these days, perhaps the most intense team-for-team assault of the 2000 NHRA Winston Drag Racing season will be waged on two-wheels.
The days of a lone rider dominating NHRA's Pro Stock Motorcycle category are long gone.
Several riders take consideration as favorites for the 2000 NHRA Winston championship in Pro Stock Motorcycle as the season opens during the 31st annual Mac Tools Gatornationals, March 16-19, at historic Gainesville Raceway. The $1.9 million race is the first of 14 events for Pro Stock Motorcycles in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.
The leader of the pack is three-time series champion Matt Hines, rider of the Eagle One Suzuki. A strong contingent of talented riders is hot on his wheelie-bars, however. Team Winston Suzuki rider Angelle Seeling, who led the points chase for much of 1999 only to finish a close second to Hines, is the biggest threat to unseat the multi-time champ. The eight-point differential separating those two riders last season represented the closest points race in the history of the category.
While Hines and Seeling begin chapter four of their well-documented rivalry, other riders have moved into striking position.
Among the best of the rest include Team 23 Suzuki rider Antron Brown, a three-time winner in '99 and recipient of the Automobile Club of Southern California's Road to the Future award. Six-time series champion Dave Schultz rode his Sunoco Suzuki back into the winner's circle a year ago and seems to be primed for a return to his championship winning glory days.
First-time winner Craig Treble, who powered his Team Scream Suzuki to victory at Brainerd, Minn. last year, also will be a major threat. Geno Scali, who enjoyed great success on the AMA ProStar circuit in '99, is boasting low 7-second capabilities on his Cope Racing Suzuki. His sizzling 7.13-second effort remains the national elapsed time record in ProStar competition. With the prospect of added sponsorship to his racing effort, talented Suzuki rider Steve Johnson may be the season's darkhorse championship contender.
Brown-teammate Tony Mullen also has proven he's got the ability to win on his Team 23 Suzuki. Blaine Hale, who was much-improved in 1999, will pilot the fastest Kawasaki.
While winning races is the key to a successful championship run, there are other important areas where points can be earned, like during qualifying. As Seeling found out last season, every point can be critical as the championship chase winds down to the final race in Pomona.
"I think I learned last year how important consistency really is," said Seeling, who earned five victories in '99, including the Mac Tools Gatornationals. "You can win one race or you can win 15, but the way to win the Winston championship is to be very consistent."
The New Orleans rider hopes she's the one out front when the season ends in mid-November.
"We're focused on winning the Winston championship this year," Seeling said. "We were so close to winning the championship last year and we want more than anything to take that next step."