Memphis Pro Stock notebook

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (626) 914-4761 PENNZOIL NATIONALS PRESENTED BY AUTOZONE PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK *New project: Warren Johnson may be ready to reduce his list of engine clients in 1998, but that time ...


Contact: NHRA Communications (626) 914-4761

PENNZOIL NATIONALS PRESENTED BY AUTOZONE PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK *New project: Warren Johnson may be ready to reduce his list of engine clients in 1998, but that time probably will be filled with projects designed to increase the performance of his GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird. Take his most recent project, for example. Johnson is spending thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to design a new transmission for his cars. Johnson and his son, Kurt, have been plagued by transmission failures this season, so they decided to design a transmission from scratch instead of relying on outside vendors. "We should have a runnable piece by the end of November," Johnson said. "It's a clean sheet of paper. Everything is different. We're going to design this thing to run in the 6.50's." There's significant financial motivation for Johnson to design and build a new transmission. He estimates that he lost between $30,000 to $50,000 this year every time his transmission broke, due to lost winnings and the cost of replacement parts. *No surprise: Many NHRA followers were surprised that Jim Yates continued his strong performance after renowned crew chief and engine builder Richard Maskin left the team in late February. Maskin built the powerful engines that powered Yates to his first NHRA Winston championship last season in the McDonald's Pontiac Firebird. But Yates' archrival, Warren Johnson, isn't surprised by Yates' continued success with new engine builder Bob Ingles. "I figured they'd keep the same performance level," Johnson said. "Bob Ingles is an extremely competent machinist. I'm sure he's uncovered something in Maskin's philosophy that might have been erroneous. He's probably found ways to add four or five horsepower." *Swish: Former NBA power forwards Tom Hammonds and Larry Nance both qualified for the 16-car Pro Stock field at the Pioneer Electronics Keystone Nationals in mid-September at Reading, Pa. Hammonds, from Crestview, Fla., made the field for the first time in 13 career starts, qualifying 13th in the Winnebago Oldsmobile Cutlass. Nance, from Akron, Ohio, qualified for the fourth time this season, taking 14th in the Catch 22 Oldsmobile Cutlass. Both lost in the first round. Nance made his NHRA debut at the Pennzoil Nationals presented by AutoZone in June 1996. *Performance prediction: Memphis Motorsports Park is one of few tracks in the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series that has never produced a six-second NHRA Pro Stock run, but that will change at this event, Warren Johnson said. "There will definitely be some six-second runs there," Johnson said. Scott Geoffrion set the Pro Stock elapsed-time track record of 7.037 seconds at this event in May 1995. *Family ties: Kurt Johnson is just 39 points behind his father, Warren Johnson, in the NHRA Winston Pro Stock point standings in the ACDelco Pontiac Firebird. Kurt never has finished ahead of his father during his career, which started in 1993. But Warren Johnson insists that it wouldn't break any family ties if Kurt edges him this year. "All the money goes into the same account," Warren Johnson said. "He would just get a bigger percentage." *Stay sharp: Scott Geoffrion and Team Mopar teammate Darrell Alderman are among the busiest drivers in the Pro Stock pits at every NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series national event, as they also each drive a Dodge Dakota in the exhibition Pro Stock Truck category at every race. Despite the grind, Geoffrion thinks driving the truck has helped to sharpen his skills at the starting line. "Anytime you can get more views of the Christmas Tree, especially on race day, it's just going to help," Geoffrion said. "You see that tree more, you have that visual picture in your mind more, and you get in that comfort zone the more you approach the starting line." The exhibition NHRA Pro Stock Truck program will continue at the Sears Craftsman Nationals as Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford pickups will race against each other in exhibition passes. Besides Alderman and Geoffrion in the Dodge Dakotas, longtime NHRA competitors Jerry Haas and John Lingenfelter will drive two Chevrolet S-10 trucks, and Roy Hill and Pro Stock pioneer Ronnie Sox will drive two Ford Rangers. 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. *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 offers more information about NHRA Winston Drag Racing, including qualifying and eliminations results, news, point standings, statistics and driver biographies.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Darrell Alderman , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , John Lingenfelter , Tom Hammonds , Scott Geoffrion , Jerry Haas , Larry Nance