Contact: Jon G. Knapp Phone: (704) 662-9898 Fax: (704) 662-9809 MEMPHIS ENDS TOO QUICKLY FOR MARTINO MEMPHIS, TN, October 6, 1997 - For the many competitors in the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series, the season is a nine-month long ...
Contact: Jon G. Knapp Phone: (704) 662-9898 Fax: (704) 662-9809
MEMPHIS ENDS TOO QUICKLY FOR MARTINO
MEMPHIS, TN, October 6, 1997 - For the many competitors in the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series, the season is a nine-month long tightrope walk. Each run, whether in qualifying or eliminations, is a finely-tuned balance aimed at extracting the maximum performance from a sophisticated racing machine, matching it to the track conditions, and translating it into a winning pass down the quarter-mile. At this past weekend's Pennzoil Nationals in Memphis, Tennessee, Tom Martino found the right combination in qualifying, and the MaMa Rosa's Pizza pilot posted one of his best starting positions of the year. However, his first round opponent, Darrell Alderman, was able to overcome Martino's best speed of the weekend and record a quicker elapsed time, cutting short Martino's chances for a third win.
"Our MaMa Rosa's Pizza Pro Stock Pontiac had run well all weekend, making it into the top half of the ladder," said Martino. "We knew Darrell would be tough, and we needed to make a better run than we did to beat him."
In previous years, the stop in Memphis meant enduring searing mid-summer temperatures and a short 100-foot concrete launching pad. However, the 1997 edition was held in late summer, and the new ownership had added an extra 200 feet of cement to the starting line. As a result, elapsed times plummeted and speeds soared, placing a premium on power. The Martino Family team had come to Memphis Motorsports Park excited after setting the low elapsed time of the meet during the previous weekend in Topeka. This show of performance dictated little or no changes to their racecar between events, only routine service, which is an advantage when faced with consecutive racing weekends. Not missing a beat, Martino scored two impressive runs on the first day of qualifying, and his 7.001-second elapsed time, recorded during the nighttime session, represented the team's best effort since Englishtown in May, and was enough to place the MaMa Rosa's Pizza backed entry seventh. When Saturday's higher temperatures prevented any major changes in the line-up, Martino's first round match-up was set against Alderman, a former champion whose starting-line antics are often the subject of controversy.
"Darrell's been known to try some unusual things at the (starting) line, but we won't be drawn into it," said Martino. "We have the advantage of lane choice, and we'll have our MaMa Rosa's Pizza Pontiac ready to run on Sunday. We plan on just getting in and race."
Any discussions on potential mind games quickly stopped, however, as both drivers staged in textbook fashion. Alderman gained a slight advantage at the start, and used his power advantage to hold on for the win. Tom Martino never gave up, driving the Ma Ma Rosa's Pizza Pro Stock Firebird to a top speed of 195.99 miles-per-hour, not only their best for the weekend, but faster than any run they had made since May. Even in a losing effort, progress was made.
"As this season winds down, our MaMa Rosa's Pizza Racing team is focused on finishing strong and setting the tone for next year " stated Martino. "We're getting better - we qualified well here, but we're looking to advance some rounds, and that's what we plan to do in Dallas! "
Sunday's final saw Jim Yates continue to steamroll towards his second straight Pro Stock championship by gaining his eighth win of the season in defeating recently un-retired Mark Osborne. The NHRA now takes a weekend off before going west to Dallas for the Revell Nationals, which are scheduled from October 16-19.