Indianapolis Top Fuel Preview

AMATO LOOKING FOR SUPERMAN-LIKE EFFORT TO WIN U.S. NATIONALS CLERMONT, Ind. - Joe Amato's Top Fuel dragster will be painted with a special Superman theme at the 45th annual U.S. Nationals. He can only hope that it will be faster than a ...

AMATO LOOKING FOR SUPERMAN-LIKE EFFORT TO WIN U.S. NATIONALS CLERMONT, Ind. - Joe Amato's Top Fuel dragster will be painted with a special Superman theme at the 45th annual U.S. Nationals. He can only hope that it will be faster than a speeding bullet. Amato, from Exeter, Pa., will need a Superman-like effort if he's to separate himself from the pack in one of the tightest NHRA championship battles in the history of Top Fuel. As many as 10 drivers in the Top Fuel category head to drag racing's most prestigious event with a shot at Winston championship glory: Mike Dunn, Kenny Bernstein, Gary Scelzi, Tony Schumacher, Doug Kalitta, Larry Dixon and Amato headline the contenders. Amato will be racing for his fourth U.S. Nationals trophy Sept. 1-6 at Indianapolis Raceway Park, and in the process trying to earn an unprecedented sixth NHRA Winston Top Fuel championship. The $2.6 million race is the 16th of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. He's was the hottest driver during July. After a horrendous start to the season, which included a DNQ at the season-opening Winternationals, Amato's team rebounded to win four events, including back-to-back titles at Denver and Seattle during the grueling 'West Coast Swing.' "We made it a point to do better in the western swing of races," said Amato, a 49-time NHRA national event winner. "The combination of our new car and a little luck really set the tone during those races. We stumbled a little at Sonoma (Calif.), but to win two of three is pretty good." Amato made up a lot of ground in the point standings with his performance in late July and early August. He moved from seventh to third in the standings during a three-week period, but now sits in a tie for sixth, 30 points out of the lead. He feels confident about his Tenneco Automotive/Dynomax team's chances with seven races remaining. "We want to keep our momentum going and hang around in the front with the leaders," Amato said. "With our high horsepower car we feel like we can make a move during the fall races when we get back to some of the quicker tracks. If we can keep the car consistent, we should be right there in position to get us another Winston championship." Amato has only one championship prediction. It's going to be close. Very close. "It's definitely a barn-burner and I think it'll come down to three or four teams at the end," Amato said. "Dunn has been there all season and so has Bernstein. Scelzi's guys are playing hardball and making a move from behind. It's the most competitive season I've ever seen in Top Fuel and I've been doing this for quite a while. It's exciting to be involved in this kind of championship battle. It's the reason you get involved in this sport in the first place."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Mike Dunn , Kenny Bernstein , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta