Pomona preview

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (626) 914-4761 EXPECT RECORD TIMES, SPEEDS AS NHRA SEASON ENDS AT WINSTON FINALS POMONA, Calif. -- When the 1997 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series started in January at Pomona Raceway,...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (626) 914-4761

EXPECT RECORD TIMES, SPEEDS AS NHRA SEASON ENDS AT WINSTON FINALS POMONA, Calif. -- When the 1997 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series started in January at Pomona Raceway, there was an air of uncertainty regarding performance. Could drivers produce record times and speeds this early in the season, or did kinks still exist in their tuneups? Were strong preseason test sessions a portent of performance to come? Those questions were answered in stunning fashion, as drivers started the year in peak form. Joe Amato set a Top Fuel elapsed-time national record of 4.564 seconds in the Keystone Automotive Warehouse Dragster, and elapsed-time and speed track records were set in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock. So if drivers looked that sharp at the Chief Auto Parts Winternationals, the potential for record performance is huge entering the 33rd annual, $1,466,600 Winston Finals, Nov. 6-9 at Pomona Raceway. After all, just about every team has perfected its tuneup through the first 21 races of the year and are ready to let it rip at the season finale. Two national records have been set at this event in the last three years. Matt Hines set the Pro Stock Motorcycle elapsed-time record at 7.344 seconds last year on the Vance & Hines Suzuki GSXR, and Kenny Bernstein set the Top Fuel speed record at 314.46 mph in 1994 in the Budweiser King Dragster. Recent performances indicate that many more records could fall at Pomona. John Force raised the NHRA Funny Car speed national record twice in two weeks, from 313.04 to 314.35 mph, in late September and early October in the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. Many drivers, including Bernstein, have indicated they want to reach the elusive 320-mph barrier before this season ends. While performance will capture plenty of attention at Pomona, it wouldn't be the Winston Finals without a championship race to the finish. The Top Fuel race could be decided at Pomona, as rookie Gary Scelzi could come full circle at this racetrack. He could clinch the NHRA Winston championship 37 weeks after he won his first career start in the Team Winston Dragster at Pomona in a wild, tire-smoking duel with Amato. Scelzi, from Fresno, Calif., led Cory McClenathan, from Anaheim, Calif., by 135 points after 19 races this season. Top Fuel drivers also will be the center of attention in the Budweiser Classic special event Nov. 8. The eight drivers who earned the most points during qualifying this season will compete in the Classic, a "race within a race." The winner will earn $100,000, the largest single-day purse in NHRA Winston Drag Racing. Any driver who can win the Classic and the Winston Finals will earn a $50,000 bonus from NHRA. That creates a potential weekend payday of $200,000, the largest of the year in Top Fuel. *Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 6, as this is one of only two events in which pro qualifying takes place Thursday. Qualifying continues with at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 7 and ends with sessions at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Nov. 8. Final eliminations start at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 9. Budweiser Classic rounds are scheduled for 11:30 a.m., 1:45 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. Nov. 8. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 8 a.m. Nov. 6. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the Winston Finals. Call NHRA Ticketing at (800) 884-6472 for ticket information. Tickets also can be purchased at Ticketmaster outlets throughout Southern California.

*On TV: The Nashville Network (TNN) will broadcast ninety minutes live, final-round competition from the Winston Finals at 4 p.m. (PST) Nov. 9. TNN also will televise one hour of live, first-round competition at 10:30 a.m. (PST) that day. TNN will show one hour of live, final-round competition from the Budweiser Classic at 4 p.m. (PST) Nov. 8. -30-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Matt Hines , Kenny Bernstein , John Force , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Cory McClenathan