Reading Top Fuel notebook

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (626) 914-4761 PIONEER ELECTRONICS KEYSTONE NATIONALS TOP FUEL NOTEBOOK *Eerie deal for Amato: Joe Amato announced an innovative sponsorship from Hearst Entertainment and its hit Fox Kids...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (626) 914-4761 PIONEER ELECTRONICS KEYSTONE NATIONALS TOP FUEL NOTEBOOK *Eerie deal for Amato: Joe Amato announced an innovative sponsorship from Hearst Entertainment and its hit Fox Kids network television show, "EERIE, Indiana," earlier this month at the U.S. Nationals. The sponsorship is the first between a network television show and a professional NHRA race team. "EERIE, Indiana was repositioned as kids' programming and went from nowhere to No. 1 in the television ratings," said Russ Brown, vice president of licensing and promotion for Hearst Entertainment. "We are now in the fortuitous position to help do the same thing in NHRA racing, and with our association with Joe Amato, we can't lose." "EERIE, Indiana" takes place in the fictitious town of Eerie, Ind., the center of weirdness for the entire planet. The show can be seen every Saturday morning on the Fox Kids TV network. *Joining elite group: Jim Head became the fourth driver in NHRA history to win a U.S. Nationals title in Top Fuel and Funny Car. Head, from Columbus, Ohio, won in Funny Car in 1984. The others are Don "The Snake" Prudhomme, Ed "The Ace" McCulloch and Kenny Bernstein. "That's good company to be in," Head said. Head also ended the longest drought between victories in U.S. Nationals history. His win this year came 13 years after his first U.S. Nationals title. *Quicker and quicker: The Top Fuel field at the U.S. Nationals earlier this month at Indianapolis was the quickest in history, as Pat Dakin qualified 16th at 4.758 seconds in the Commercial Metal Fabricators Dragster. The previous quickest field came at the ATSCO Nationals in February 1997 at Phoenix, where Eddie Hill was 16th at 4.802. To put this field into perspective, a 4.758-second pass would have been the No. 1 time at the 1995 U.S. Nationals by more than five-hundredths of a second, a sizable margin in drag racing. *Mac attack ends: Cory McClenathan lost to Jim Head in the final of the U.S. Nationals, failing to become the first NHRA Top Fuel driver to win five consecutive races in one season. But McClenathan, from Anaheim, Calif., tied an NHRA Top Fuel record by winning 19 consecutive rounds since mid-July in the McDonald's Dragster before losing to Jim Head in the final. Scott Kalitta won 19 straight rounds in 1994. "This has been an incredible run," McClenathan said. "I never thought anyone could do this, let alone myself. We rode that roller coaster as far as it would take us. Now it's time to go into Reading and see if we can't start another streak in the McDonald's car." *Pouring it on: Miller Brewing Company announced Aug. 31 at the U.S. Nationals that it signed a three-year sponsorship extension for the Miller Lite Dragster owned by Don "The Snake" Prudhomme and driven by Larry Dixon. The car will sport Miller colors through 2000. Miller has sponsored the car since 1995, Dixon's rookie season. *What a waste: Losing bothers Joe Amato more than anything, but problem-plagued runs during qualifying are a close second even if he's already safely in the field. "You're always trying to learn something so you don't waste the money and the time," Amato said. "When you go up there and something dumb happens, that's just a waste, a total waste. All the energy, all the team's work, all the money. You might as well have gone to the restaurant and had a good dinner. It would have made more sense." *Performance prediction: The NHRA elapsed-time and speed national records will be in jeopardy, and a significant milestone could be achieved at this event, Joe Amato said. "I think that if the track is really good, you could see national records," Amato said. "We made the quickest pass ever up in Brainerd, Minn. Who could think of that?" Amato made a pass of 4.562 seconds in the Keystone Automotive Warehouse Dragster during the Champion Auto Stores Nationals last month at Brainerd International Raceway, not considered one of the quckest tracks on the circuit. Amato was unable to back up that time within 1 percent for a national record and $50,000 from the MBNA World Record Club, but he said his on-board computer showed that his run clocked at 4.908, 317.57 in the first round actually was about 4.55, which would have become the national record. Amato holds both the elapsed-time and speed national records at 4.564 seconds and 318.24 mph. His car has reached 319 mph during a test run with crew member Bill Walsh driving. Test runs are unofficial and don't count as records. "It's there," Amato said of the chance to reach 320. "The combination has the potential. Somewhere between now and the Winston Finals, I think we can bump the speed record up." *Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 3 p.m. Sept. 12 and continues at 7 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at noon and 4 p.m. Sept. 13. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. Sept. 14. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 11. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the Pioneer Electronics Keystone Nationals. Call Maple Grove Raceway at (610) 856-7200. *On TV: TNN will televise 90 minutes of live, final-round competition from the Pioneer Electronics Keystone Nationals at 4:30 p.m. (EDT) Sept. 14. TNN also will televise one hour of live, first-round competition at 11 a.m. (EDT) Sept. 14. -30- 9/3/97-RP2-139

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Joe Amato , Cory McClenathan , Pat Dakin