MARTINO POISED TO GET BACK ON TRACK IN READING Parsippany, New Jersey, September 14, 1998 - It is a long-standing tradition that the passing of Labor Day marks the end of summer. Soon after, there are many other indicators that fall is on its...
MARTINO POISED TO GET BACK ON TRACK IN READING
Parsippany, New Jersey, September 14, 1998 - It is a long-standing tradition that the passing of Labor Day marks the end of summer. Soon after, there are many other indicators that fall is on its way. Children return to school, the leaves slowly begin to change, and crisp, cooler temperatures replace the oppressive heat. For the many talented teams on the NHRA's Winston Drag Racing Series, the change of seasons has it own implications.
First, it is the start of the homestretch, a crucial series of six races where championships can be won or lost. Those in the hunt want to capture the crown, while those out of contention look to make a statement for next year. In addition, the combination of improved weather conditions and fast tracks signify a renewal of the assault on the national elapsed time and top speed records. It all starts with this weekend's Pioneer Electronics Keystone Nationals in Reading, Pennsylvania. That being the case, this event can't come soon enough for Tom Martino and the Six Flags Theme Parks Pro Stock Firebird Racing team as they look to challenge for their second national event win of the season.
"Reading has long been one of our favorite tracks, and we've been fortunate to run well there in the past," stated Martino. "Naturally, we're looking forward to going back this weekend for the Keystones. If the weather conditions are right, we could have another field like Seattle (where 23 Pro Stock competitors qualified in the six-second range). Power has not been a problem for our Thrill Machine Firebird this season, so we're ready to get back to the tracks where we can use it!"
Although motivation is never a problem for the Martino team, this weekend's race will offer even more than normal. First, the Martinos have always considered Maple Grove Raceway as a "home" track, as it is second only to Englishtown in proximity to their race shop. As such, their efforts will be bolstered by the support of a large contingent of family, friends, fans and co-workers from nearby Jesel Valve Train Innovation who will travel to the Pennsylvania quarter-mile on their behalf. In addition, the Six Flags crew is in the midst of a heated battle for position in the Top Ten. Currently standing eighth, they have their sights set much higher, and realize every run is crucial for the remainder of the season.
Something else the Six Flags crew will have to consider in their pre-race strategy is the newly configured Maple Grove surface. Since last year's event, an additional 500 feet of concrete have been added to the starting line, placing extra emphasis on a fast start. With only one session to gain valuable track information prior to the crucial Friday night time trial, the team's focus must be on dialing-in their set-up rather than making major adjustments. Therefore, Martino made time in his pre-race preparations to take his racecar for a quick test session to establish a baseline of performance. A solid qualifying effort is the first step towards winning, and the Martino team is determined to be ready.
"There are six races left in the season, and we have two sets of goals," explained Martino. "We have some we set at the start of the season, and those remain within our reach. We have other marks we've set based on where we are right now. They're tough, but realistic. It's now up to us to work hard, stay focused and perform to our capabilities. The first priority is to qualify well, and then we'll turn our attention to eliminations. Reading is the next step, and we're looking to have a big celebration with the Six Flags Firebird and our family and friends in the winner's circle on Sunday night!"