Pomona: Winternationals pre-notes

42nd annual K&N Filters Winternationals, Feb. 7-10, Pomona Raceway * Darrell Russell looks to make history again at the K&N Filters Winternationals: Last season Darrell Russell joined Gary Scelzi and K.C. Spurlock as the only three drivers to...

42nd annual K&N Filters Winternationals, Feb. 7-10, Pomona Raceway

* Darrell Russell looks to make history again at the K&N Filters Winternationals: Last season Darrell Russell joined Gary Scelzi and K.C. Spurlock as the only three drivers to win an event in their professional debut. The 2001 NHRA Rookie of the Year will try and become the first Top Fuel driver ever to repeat at the season-opener. The legendary Don Garlits won the famed event five times during his storied career, but never two straight.

"This will be the first time I've ever defended the title of a race as a professional," said the 33-year-old Russell. "It's a nice feeling. But the truth is I don't think the fact we won here last year means a lot. The teams racing at this level are so good and I can tell you already there will be 10-12 cars that can win this race."

* In the 41 K&N Filters Winternationals that have been competed, there have been 31 different Top Fuel winners, with only seven drivers notching more than one victory at the event. Other that Garlits' five career wins, Gary Scelzi, Joe Amato, Frank Bradley, Gary Ormsby, Dick LaHaie and Shirley Muldowney each have two Winternationals victories.

* Since 1990, the driver in both Funny Car or Pro Stock that has won the Winternationals in their respective category has finished fifth or higher in the season standings 10 of the 12 times. Only Funny Car Bruce Sarver (2001, sixth), Jim Epler (1992, 14th), and Pro Stock drivers Kurt Johnson (2001, ninth), and Darrell Alderman (1995, 14th) failed to crack the top five.

* Clay Millican, the 2001 IHRA Top Fuel champion, will run a limited schedule with the NHRA. He will compete at the first three races of the season and will follow with at least four other events throughout the year.

"I'm pumped and excited about the season, as usual," said the 35-year-old Millican. "The more I get to drive, the happier I am. But we want to run with the big boys. Every time we go out to a NHRA race we want a shot at winning the event. We could probably run more races, but we want to be as prepared as we can to win a race."

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Clay Millican , Shirley Muldowney , Darrell Alderman , Jim Epler , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi