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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 SPRING SHIFT WILL CONTINUE TO BENEFIT PERFORMANCE AT RICHMOND DINWIDDIE, Va. -- It's amazing the difference a month made for the Pennzoil Nationals presented by...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761

SPRING SHIFT WILL CONTINUE TO BENEFIT PERFORMANCE AT RICHMOND

DINWIDDIE, Va. -- It's amazing the difference a month made for the Pennzoil Nationals presented by Trak Auto last year.

Times dropped and speeds climbed as the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series event shifted from the sweltering summer heat of early June to the spring conditions of early May. Every professional track record was broken at the 1996 event.

The event will take place one week earlier this year, moving into the final weekend of April. While that date change appears insignificant, it could be a big factor. The potential for another clean sweep of the record book remains this year because the mercury seems to climb a degree or two every day during the spring. Starting one week earlier can go a long way toward ensuring peak performance.

Records should fall at the third annual, $1,488,750 Pennzoil Nationals presented by Trak Auto, April 24-27 at Virginia Motorsports Park. The race is the sixth event of the 22-event, $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series in 1997.

Last year, elapsed-time track records were more than broken in all four pro categories. They were destroyed. The difference between times in 1995 and 1996 was most dramatic in Funny Car and Pro Stock Motorcycle.

John Force lowered the track record from 5.156 seconds to 5.025 seconds in Funny Car. That may not look like much, but .13 seconds is an eternity in drag racing. The drop in Pro Stock Motorcycle was even more stunning, as John Myers sliced the record from 7.582 to 7.422.

The potential remains for elapsed-time records to drop by similar amounts this year, for many reasons.

First, the weather could be slightly cooler in late April. Lower temperatures help competitors in all categories gain more traction, and cool air helps the carburetors used in Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle engines create more horsepower.

Second, the race surface at Virginia Motorsports Park is improving with every pass. The track opened just four years ago, making it one of the youngest racing surfaces on the NHRA circuit. New racing surfaces often are like fine wine -- they get better with age. As cars lay more rubber on the track, a tacky racing groove forms.

Finally, the performance bar has been raised at all tracks. Top Fuel dragsters raced in the 4.50-second range and Funny Cars dropped into the 4.9's at three of the first four NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series national events this season. Top Fuel speeds have exceeded 315 mph at all four opening races.

At least one Pro Stock recorded a six-second pass at the first four races, and speeds exceeded 198 mph at all four, including Warren Johnson's record of 199.91 mph.

*Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 3 p.m. April 25 and continues at 7 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at noon and 4 p.m. April 26. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. April 27. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 10:15 a.m. April 24.

*Tickets: Tickets are available for the Pennzoil Nationals presented by Trak Auto. Call Virginia Motorsports Park at (804) 862-3174 for ticket information. Tickets also can be purchased from Ticketmaster.

*On TV: ESPN2 will televise two hours of same-day, final- round competition from the Pennzoil Nationals presented by Trak Auto at 10:30 p.m. (EDT) April 27. ESPN2 also will show two hours of same-day, Friday-night qualifying at 11:30 p.m. (EDT) April 25.All-day, live coverage of final eliminations will be shown on ESPN pay-per-view from 10:30-6 p.m. (EDT) April 27. The telecast costs $14.95. Viewers must order the programming through their satellite or cable provider. -30- 3/31/97-RV1-049

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , John Force