INDIANAPOLIS, IN (August 28, 2000) -- For many the 46th annual NHRA U.S. Nationals, Aug. 30-Sept. 4, may just be another race, but for Top Fuel racer Paul Romine, driver of the CARQUEST Auto Parts / Prolong Super Lubricants / CARQUEST Filters / ...
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (August 28, 2000) -- For many the 46th annual NHRA U.S. Nationals, Aug. 30-Sept. 4, may just be another race, but for Top Fuel racer Paul Romine, driver of the CARQUEST Auto Parts / Prolong Super Lubricants / CARQUEST Filters / CARQUEST Brakes / Duragloss Top Fuel dragster, it is still the race know just as "Indy".
The $2.6 million NHRA U.S. Nationals, drag racing's Indianapolis 500 or Daytona 500, has been held annually Labor Day weekend the past 46 years. Throughout the years, it has been drag racing's biggest and most prestigious event. While new facilities have been built that are more glamorous than Indianapolis Raceway Park, and events now have equal pay with what winning "Indy" pays, the U.S. Nationals is still the one event for hard core racers to win. And that's no different to Paul Romine, or his crew chief, Clayton Harris.
"I grew up in Indianapolis and have lived here my entire life," says Romine, who owns a successful business, Dealer's Engine Sales on the southeast side of the city. "I've been drag racing since I was old enough to get behind the wheel and my entire life, I've always know the U.S. Nationals as being the place to win if your a drag racer. I know younger racers may not know it anymore as such a prestigious event, but for me, if there were ever an event I'd do anything to win, it would be Indy."
Throughout its history, Indy has been home to some of Top Fuel's biggest surprises and upsets. Last year was no different. As a part-time NHRA competitor, Romine, the 2-time IHRA Top Fuel World Champion, came to the 1999 event with his first goal to qualify the CARQUEST Fueler, then focus on eliminations. The CARQUEST team accomplished their first goal and entered eliminations against 2-time NHRA World Champion Gary Scelzi in round one. Scelzi, in the middle of a fierce championship chase with Tony Schumacher, desperately needed a round one victory to keep pace in the Winston Drag Racing point standings. The CARQUEST team had their own plans. At the flash of the starting line Christmas tree, Romine cut an unreal .418 light and despite Scelzi's 4.588/306.12, Romine won with a 4.666/306.60, his second best ever elapsed time.
"It was great to take out the champ on his turf, but we lost in the second round," Romine said. "We want to win, not just get an upset or two. The CARQUEST team can compete with the top cars despite not having the track time they do with NHRA rules. We're going to do whatever it takes to get our car competitive and again wreak havoc among the NHRA championship points contenders."
Top Fuel qualifying begins Friday, Sept. 1 at 7:30 p.m. CT Qualifying continues with two sessions, both Saturday, Sept. 2 and Sunday, Sept. 3 at noon and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are set to begin Monday, Sept. 4 at 11 a.m.
TNN will broadcast two hours of qualifying and first round of eliminations Monday, Sept. 4 at 12 p.m. ET, then show two hours of complete final eliminations coverage at 5 p.m.