CHIEF AUTO PARTS WINTERNATIONALS PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK *The big 200: A $25,000 bonus has stayed in the checkbook of Federal-Mogul's Speed-Pro division since May 1994, when the company created the NHRA Speed-Pro 200-mph Pro Stock Club ...
CHIEF AUTO PARTS WINTERNATIONALS PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK
*The big 200: A $25,000 bonus has stayed in the checkbook of Federal-Mogul's Speed-Pro division since May 1994, when the company created the NHRA Speed-Pro 200-mph Pro Stock Club program to reward the first NHRA Pro Stock driver to record a 200-mph speed at a national event.
Well, it looks like Federal-Mogul executives should get their pens ready. That money is ripe for the taking now.
Both Warren Johnson and Troy Coughlin recorded speeds of 200.00 mph during testing Jan. 19 at Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville, Fla. Johnson matched his 200 with an elapsed time of 6.930 seconds in the GM Performance Parts Pontiac Firebird, while Coughlin followed with a run of 6.905 in the Jeg's Performance Parts Firebird while also reaching 200.
Testing runs are unofficial and cannot be counted for national records.
No Pro Stock driver ever has recorded a 200-mph speed at an NHRA national event. The fastest speed at a national event is 199.15 mph by Johnson in March 1995 at Houston Raceway Park. That speed also is the NHRA national record.
Coughlin also unofficially recorded the first 6.80-second pass in NHRA Pro Stock history with a run of 6.897, 199.60. Coughlin is using engines built by Johnson this season.
"We achieved two goals in one weekend -- we ran 200 mph and ran in the 6.80s," Johnson said. "Both cars were at NHRA-legal weight, since the object of the exercise is to get everything sorted out for the start of the new season."
Johnson also may have found a budding star in Coughlin.
"Troy is the most laid-back driver I've seen," Johnson said. "After he ran 200 mph, I asked him how it felt. He said, 'Cool.' Then I asked him how the engine responded; he said, 'It's neat.' Troy did allow that he'd never felt an engine with so much bottom-end power."
*Passing the test: While Warren Johnson and Troy Coughlin produced probably the most impressive runs during early preseason testing, defending NHRA Winston champion Jim Yates was no slacker, either.
Yates produced a best run of 6.91 seconds at Gainesville Raceway in his McDonald's Pontiac Firebird. Yates also recorded the best run of a three-day session that started Jan. 6 at Gainesville with a 6.96. Many top drivers attended that session, including Warren Johnson, Kurt Johnson, Steve Schmidt, Tom Martino, Darrell Alderman, Scott Geoffrion, Mike Edwards and Rickie Smith.
Alderman recorded the second-quickest time at the session, 6.984 seconds at 196.89 mph in the Team Mopar Dodge Avenger. He is racing for the first time since May 1995, when vandals entered the Dodge team's shop and destroyed all of its racing engines.
*Goals: Encouraging results from a preseason test session in Gainesville, Fla., haven't changed Scott Geoffrion's original goals for this comeback season, but they may have spurred some thoughts about the big prize -- the NHRA Winston championship.
"Our goal is to qualify, win rounds and win races," Geoffrion said. "The rest will take care of itself. I think we'll be competitive.
"I'd like to think we went from a non-factor to a factor in a couple of days, and I think we can be consistent and right there near the end."
*The new boss: Owner Dale Eicke faces the tough task of rebuilding the Team Mopar operation that finished 1-2 in the NHRA Winston point standings in 1994 with drivers Darrell Alderman and Scott Geoffrion.
But Eicke is more than capable of returning Dodge to prominence in Pro Stock, Geoffrion said.
"He's extremely calculated," Geoffrion said. "He's always thinking. Like Darrell said, 'Man, that guy is smart.' He's an innovator."
*Stepping into the seat: Greg Anderson, longtime crew chief for Warren Johnson, will be driving one of W.J.'s cars at selected events in 1997.
Although those races have yet to be determined, it's a good bet that Anderson, who earned his Pro Stock license at Roy Hill's Drag Racing School, may return to the site of that schooling, Rockingham Dragway, to compete at the non-points Winston Invitational on April 4-6.
*Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 2 p.m. Jan. 30, one of only two pro sessions on a Thursday this season. Qualifying continues with a session at 2 p.m. Jan. 31 and ends with sessions at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Feb. 1. Final eliminations start at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 2. Sportsman competition starts at 8 a.m. Jan. 30.
*Tickets: Tickets are available for the Chief Auto Parts Winternationals. Call NHRA at (818) 914-4761 for ticket information. Tickets also can be purchased at Ticketmaster outlets throughout Southern California. To order through Ticketmaster, call (213) 480- 3232, (714) 740-2000, (805) 583-8700 or (619) 220-TIXS. Ticketmaster online information can be obtained on the World Wide Web at http://www.ticketmaster.com. *On TV: The Nashville Network (TNN) will televise 90 minutes of live final-round competition from the Chief Auto Parts Winternationals at 4 p.m. (PST) Feb. 2. TNN will televise 30 minutes of live first-round coverage during "NHRA Today" at 10:30 a.m. (PST) Feb. 2. *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. -30-
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