FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (626) 914-4761 PENNZOIL NATIONALS PRESENTED BY AUTOZONE PRO STOCK BIKE NOTEBOOK *Center of attention: As Matt Hines closes in on his first NHRA Winston Pro Stock Motorcycle ...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: NHRA Communications (626) 914-4761
PENNZOIL NATIONALS PRESENTED BY AUTOZONE PRO STOCK BIKE NOTEBOOK *Center of attention: As Matt Hines closes in on his first NHRA Winston Pro Stock Motorcycle championship, he says there's really only one difference between his life now and as a rookie last season, when he finished third in the point standings. "There's a lot more people looking at me, fans coming over to the trailer," Hines said. "I'm getting a lot more attention. It's good. "I know a little bit what John Force feels like now. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it." *The new king: Matt Hines led second-place John Myers by 260 points entering the Sears Craftsman Nationals, Sept. 25-28 at Topeka, Kan., and only needed to earn 17 points more than Myers at that event to clinch his first NHRA Winston championship. A championship by Hines will end the dominance of the category by Dave Schultz and John Myers, winners of every Pro Stock Motorcycle championship since 1990. Schultz won in 1991, 1993, 1994 and 1996; Myers in 1990, 1992 and 1995. "When I first considered riding Pro Stock Bike, that was my goal, to beat Dave Schultz and John Myers and win the championship," Hines said. "I wanted it bad." *WJ helps bike rider: Warren Johnson is winless in Pro Stock since June, but he's doing some winning in Pro Stock Motorcycle, where John Smith's Anoka-Ramsey Sports Center Suzuki is benefiting from a radical new cylinder head atop the team's two-valve Suzuki engine. Smith used the new head at the Pioneer Electronics Keystone Nationals in September at Reading, Pa. The head was designed and built with the help of engine builder Rick Ward, who did most of the machine work, and the Professor of Pro Stock, Warren Johnson, who looked at the team's engine program several months ago and suggested ways for them to improve performance. "We wanted to get ahead of the game and build our own," crew chief Dave Harlander said. "On the dyno, it is a little better than our other stuff, but this combination is still in its infancy. We're still learning how to tune it, but obviously we feel like were going in the right direction." Indeed. Smith was runner-up to Matt Hines at Reading, outrunning John Myers in the quarterfinals and Angelle Seeling in the semifinals. Smith also qualified third, one spot ahead of defending NHRA Winston champion Dave Schultz. Smith and Harlander aren't the first rider-crew chief combination to seek help from the four-wheeled set. Schultz has worked with Pro Stock engine gurus Steve Schmidt and Richard Maskin, Super Stock racer Ray Barton and designers of the Aurora V8 Indy-car engine. *Minor adjustment: Matt Hines has never raced at Memphis Motorsports Park, as NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle competition is returning to this track for the first time since the inaugural Pennzoil Nationals presented by AutoZone in 1988. But Hines thinks his adjustment to the racing surface at Memphis should be smooth. He has one asset already -- friend and riding mentor Terry Vance won Pro Stock Motorcycle in 1988 a this event. "It's just a matter of getting the bike down the track," Hines said. "It's no big deal. I won two national events and The Wax Shop Dash in 1996, when I had never raced at any of the tracks." Hines was a rookie in 1996 on the Vance & Hines Suzuki GSXR. *Rivals: An interesting rivalry has developed between the two female riders in Pro Stock Motorcycle, Stephanie Reaves and Angelle Seeling. Reaves was ninth in the NHRA Winston point standings after 11 of 14 Pro Stock Motorcycle races this season; Seeling fifth. Both riders made their debut at the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals in July 1996 at Denver. Seeling beat Reaves in the first round of the Mopar Parts Nationals in May at Englishtown, N.J., their only elimination-round matchup this season. "We're all in a competitive sport," Reaves said. "She and I have totally different programs. I guess to get down to the nitty-gritty, there are some rivalries there. We're both competitive." *Record run: Matt Hines' NHRA elapsed-time national record of 7.290 seconds has stood since mid-May, but he thinks that the record won't last through the season. Hines said he will make a dedicated effort to shatter the record at the season-ending Winston Finals, Nov. 6-9 at Pomona, Calif. Hines considers Pomona Raceway as his home track, as he moved this spring from nearby Whittier, Calif., to Trinidad, Colo. "We'll come to Pomona with more power, plus we'll have nothing to lose," Hines said. "I'd really like to do it at that race." *Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 3 p.m. Oct. 3 and continues at 7 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at noon and 4 p.m. Oct. 4. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. Oct. 5. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 10 a.m. Oct. 2. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the Pennzoil Nationals presented by AutoZone. Call Memphis Motorsports Park at (901) 358-7223 or (888) 82-SPEED. Tickets also are available at Ticketmaster outlets. *On TV: ESPN2 will televise two hours of same-day, final-round competition from the Pennzoil Nationals presented by AutoZone at 7:30 p.m. (CDT) Oct. 5. ESPN2 also will show two hours of live, Friday-evening qualifying at 7 p.m. (CDT) Oct. 3. *On the Web: The NHRA home page on the World Wide Web at http://www.goracing.com/nhra/ offers more information about NHRA Winston Drag Racing, including qualifying and eliminations results, news, point standings, statistics and driver biographies.