FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (626) 914-4761 U.S. NATIONALS PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK *Pressure is on: The U.S. Nationals not only is the most prestigious in the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series, but it also can be...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: NHRA Communications (626) 914-4761
U.S. NATIONALS PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK *Pressure is on: The U.S. Nationals not only is the most prestigious in the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series, but it also can be the most pressure-packed race of the year. Fans and sponsors expect results in the most popular race on the circuit. Drivers push themselves and their teams to the edge in the quest for the largest purses of the year. The tension can build in a hurry, and Steve Schmidt knows it. Schmidt failed to qualify last year at his hometown event, probably his biggest disappointment of the season. Stinging memories of that failure will force Schmidt to be careful this year at the U.S. Nationals. "I think we approach it differently because it's our hometown race," Schmidt said. "We're overly cautious. We don't want to shoot ourselves in the foot. "Indy is like two races for us, qualifying and eliminations." With good reason. Qualifying is quite an endurance test at the U.S. Nationals, the only race of the season with five professional qualifying sessions. The other 21 NHRA national events each have four sessions. *Searing hot: Jim Yates became just the second Pro Stock driver this decade to appear in final rounds at five consecutive national events in one season. Yates, from Alexandria, Va., has raced in five consecutive finals in the McDonald's Pontiac Firebird since the Sears Craftsman Nationals in late June at Madison, Ill. Warren Johnson also raced in five straight finals in 1995 and 1996. Yates has two victories in the McDonald's Pontiac Firebird during his streak. *It's all over: No one will catch Jim Yates this year for the NHRA Winston championship, Steve Schmidt said. "No chance," Schmidt said. "I think Jim Yates has the best program out there. He has the best car, is making the best runs and has a lot of confidence." Yates' recent hot streak has increased his lead to 145 points over second-place Warren Johnson, his largest lead of the season. *Money matters: There's one missing element that separates Steve Schmidt from the other cars in the top five of the NHRA Winston point standings -- sponsorship. Schmidt is the only driver in the top five without major sponsorship. His Pontiac Firebird receives some funding from Dynagear, but not on the level of Jim Yates, Warren Johnson, Kurt Johnson and Bruce Allen, Schmidt said. "I'm the only who's vaguely competitive running without a major sponsor," Schmidt said. *Truckin': The exhibition NHRA Pro Stock Truck program will continue at the U.S. Nationals as Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford pickups will race against each other in exhibition passes. Longtime NHRA competitors Jerry Haas and John Lingenfelter will drive two ChevroletS-10 trucks, Team Mopar Pro Stock drivers Darrell Alderman and Scott Geoffrion will drive two Dodge Dakotas, and Roy Hill and Richie Stevens will drive two Ford Rangers. All six trucks will participate on an exhibition basis for the rest of the NHRA season. The Pro Stock Truck program started at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals, June 12-15 at National Trail Raceway in Columbus, Ohio, with Chevrolet exhibition passes by Haas and Lingenfelter. Dodge made its debut at the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, July 17-20 at Denver. Ford unveiled its trucks at the Autolite Nationals, July 25-27 at Sonoma, Calif. The Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford trucks each are powered by a 358 cubic-inch, eight-cylinder engine. The minimum weight of the trucks with driver is 2,300 pounds. *Expo: Many top drivers in the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series will appear with their race cars in downtown Indianapolis during the Western Auto Parts America "Thunder In The Streets" motorsports expo Aug. 27. "Thunder In The Streets" is a street festival with a motorsports theme presented by Western Auto Parts America, the National Hot Rod Association and Indianapolis Raceway Park in nearby Clermont, site of the 43rd annual NHRA U.S. Nationals, Aug. 27-Sept. 1. The expo, open from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., will take place at Monument Circle, located on Meridian and Market Streets. Admission is free. More than 10 interactive displays, NHRA race cars and race-car transporters will be on display for fans. Many top NHRA drivers will sign autographs, including John Force, Kenny Bernstein, Shelly Anderson, Randy Anderson, Gary Scelzi and Whit Bazemore. *Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 7 p.m. Aug. 29. Qualifying will continue with sessions at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Aug. 30-31. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. Sept. 1. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 27. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the U.S. Nationals. Call NHRA Ticketing at (800) 884-6472 for ticket information. Tickets also can be purchased at Ticketmaster outlets. To order tickets by phone from Ticketmaster, call (317) 239-5151. *On TV: The Nashville Network (TNN) will televise three hours of live semifinal- and final-round competition from the U.S. Nationals at 3:30 p.m. (CDT) Sept. 1. TNN will televise the Big Bud Shootout live from 4-5 p.m. (CDT) Aug. 31 and The Wax Shop Pro Bike Dash live from 4-5 p.m. (CDT) Aug. 30.