Nitro News, April 13, 2000

======================================================== Vol. 5, Issue 13 April 13, 2000 ======================================================== THIS WEEK: * Houston event now underway * Jeg does talking on the track * Seeling, Hines continue to...

Vol. 5, Issue 13
April 13, 2000
* Houston event now underway
* Jeg does talking on the track
* Seeling, Hines continue to spar, too
* Bazemore's frantic fortnight
* Tyson ready to enter racing ring?
* Fuelish mistake costs Gibson, Miller
* Parity comes to Truck engine builders
* New drag racing game forthcoming
* National DRAGSTER Class Notebook preview
* This weekend: Division 6 FMDRS in Boise


NHRA's top racers head to lightning-quick Houston Raceway Park for this weekend's O'Reilly Nationals presented by Pennzoil. All of the racers are pointing to this event as their first chance to really stretch their performance legs under the new 2000 rules.

NHRA Online will be there all of the news, features, photos, and video clips you've come to expect. Be sure to tune in Sunday morning for our audio broadcast of the event's final eliminations.


Jeg Coughlin Jr. got some family revenge in the final when he beat Warren Johnson for the fifth time in seven tries. W.J. had caused a stir with comments about the Coughlin family following his Gatornationals win.

"Warren has been throwing some verbal punches lately," Coughlin said.

"We're just a great family, and we are going to let our speaking come on the track. We couldn't be happier being able to knock him off. He's a great competitor, and has been the class of the field for who knows how many years. He should be running at the top."


The off-track wars also continue in Pro Stock Bike between Las Vegas winner Angelle Seeling and the Star Racing team and the Vance & Hines squad of Winston champ Matt Hines.

"I lost the championship last year and found that I could still breathe," said Seeling, who lost the title to Hines in 1998 by 333 points. "They say you have to lose a championship before you can win one. This year, I don't care who is in the other lane. I'm going to stay cool and let the other guy get nervous."

Hines' father, Byron, not only builds engines for the team's Eagle One bike, as well as many others in the field, but has developed a six-speed transmission that also is used by Mullen, Treble, Ron and Brian Ayers, and Brown.

"I tried to buy one from Byron and he said he was out of them," said Star Racing owner George Bryce, who estimates the extra gear is worth two-hundredths.

"You have to stay calm and have fun," he added. "We're going to hang in there as best we can with the five-speed. I think the six-speed bikes may lose more rounds than us because they are blowing up or not shifting. We're going to stay consistent and keep a good attitude and hopefully we'll come out on top."


So, you want to be a famous Funny Car driver, do you?

Kendall Motor Oil/Matco Tools Camaro Z28 pilot Whit Bazemore's schedule for the two weeks prior to this weekend's O'Reilly Nationals at Houston Raceway Park was more hectic than normal and provides an insight into what occupies the time of some "hired guns" beyond the racetrack.

On March 26, Bazemore participated in a two-day test session in Tucson. After that, he headed through Phoenix to Sedona, where he logged two days of intense mountain biking as part of his personal fitness routine. From there, he drove up to Las Vegas for last weekend's event. However, his work resumed the moment he arrived at his hotel with a late-night radio interview on Wednesday.

The next morning, Bazemore was at the track before dawn to start filming a series of spots for primary sponsor Kendall Motor Oil which will air on Winston Vision.

After a quick drive back into Las Vegas, he took part in a daylong media-training program hosted by Chevrolet. His day concluded with a personal appearance on behalf of Action Performance at the Race Rock Cafe, where he signed autographs for over two hours, followed by a dinner with his sponsors. Then, of course, there was a weekend full of racing.

The next week began in the middle of the Nevada desert, where Bazemore joined fellow Chevy drag racers in a one-day class at Bragg-Smith Advanced Driving School, where they were schooled on the finer points of car control, including some spirited sessions in specially designed "skid cars" and in stock Camaro SS's on a demanding road course. After a quick drive back to Phoenix, Bazemore boarded a plane to Acapulco, Mexico, the next morning in order to attend a sales meeting on behalf of associate sponsor Matco Tools, where he had the opportunity to meet and speak with Matco distributors from around the country.

Finally, Bazemore will return to the United States today in time to compete at Houston Raceway Park, with his first runs tomorrow.


Former Heavyweight champion Mike Tyson was at the inaugural NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas, where he announced plans to join longtime friend Lloyd Straus and team owner Troy Baxter in fielding a Pro Stock Bike under the banner of his apparel company, Tyson Gear.


Tim Gibson and Bill Miller became the first victims of the maximum 90-percent- nitromethane rule instituted by NHRA for 2000 after their upset first-round win over reigning Winston Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher.

Gibson, driver of the Bill Miller Engineering car, is responsible for measuring the fuel and admitted the error was a combination of complacency on his part and an erroneous hydrometer. Gibson had his hydrometer readings checked against NHRA's hydrometer at the team's first two events this year in Pomona and Phoenix, and for that reason didn't verify his readings with NHRA in Las Vegas.

If he had, Gibson would have found that the graduated paper tube inside his hydrometer had moved and was reading 2 percent low. When Gibson's fuel was tested in the staging lanes before the first round - like every other car before each round - it measured 91.5 percent and not the 89.5 percent Gibson had measured.

Gibson added what he thought was an appropriate amount of methanol to the tank to cut down the percentage, but a subsequent check by NHRA after his 4.77, 306.33 mph win over a tire-spinning Schumacher revealed a percentage of 90.4 percent.

Schumacher was reinstated after his fuel was rechecked and passed.


Eleven engine builders had their power in Pro Stock Truck eliminations. Bill Jenkins had the most with four engines, and reigning Winston champ Bob Panella Jr. secured three positions. Randy Daniels, Taylor Lastor, Greg Stanfield, Craig Eaton, Brian Self, and John Lingenfelter were all running their own power, and Reher-Morrison, Richard Maskin, and Warren Johnson had leased motors in the program.

NEW DRAG RACING GAME FORTHCOMING?, new sponsor of the NHRA national event in Virginia, also offers authentic racing through state-of-the-art computer simulations for multi-player Internet and stand- alone PC racing. They bought the rights to Tantrum Entertainment's breakthrough game NHRA Drag Racing, which will probably be re-released with improvements and a Second edition, with true internet MP capabilities, will follow.


This week's Federal-Mogul Dragster and Federal-Mogul Funny Car Notebook Columns in National DRAGSTER take a thorough look at the PSI supercharger controversy, Tony Bartone's interesting decision to claim Division 4, and a look at 2000's statistical leaders.


NHRA Online will have coverage of the Division 6 Federal-Mogul Drag Racing Series event from Firebird Raceway in Idaho,, the first of six events in the Division this year.


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Series NHRA
Drivers Matt Hines , Jeg Coughlin , Bob Panella , Tony Bartone , Whit Bazemore , Randy Daniels , John Lingenfelter , Greg Stanfield , George Bryce , Tim Gibson , Brian Self , Lloyd Straus