As he approached the line for the third and final qualifying session, Tom Martino was faced with the cold reality that he would need his best run of the weekend in order to qualify for Sunday's final eliminations of the Moto1.net NHRA Nationals.
As he approached the line for the third and final qualifying session, Tom Martino was faced with the cold reality that he would need his best run of the weekend in order to qualify for Sunday's final eliminations of the Moto1.net NHRA Nationals. His task was made even more difficult by the fact that his previous two attempts had been slowed by mechanical problems, depriving him of valuable data. Finally, with the combination of this being the quickest field in Pro Stock history and Martino's early draw in the qualifying order, he would have to have a stellar effort to ensure his spot in the field.
Martino responded to the challenge by posting a 6.870 second elapsed time with a top speed of 200.41 mph. This placed the Century 21 Firebird 7th, and set the stage for a first round encounter with tenth qualifier Ron Krisher, whom Martino defeated in their only previous encounter in Houston in 1997, en route to his first national event win. "Although objectively it wasn't a great run, it was good enough to put us in the show, and that is what counts. Over the last two races, we had struggled to make what we would call a good clutch run, and when the clutch failed this morning it finally showed there was a problem with the clutch coating. I borrowed a clutch from another racer, which I had never had in this car. I put it in for that last run. After I did my initial clutch set-up, I put extra in it because I wanted to make sure it had enough to get down the track. It was locked dead solid from one end to the other.
"Effectively that was our first run of the weekend, so we'll tune on it for tomorrow. Fortunately we have lane choice for the first round, and we'll see that this Century 21 Firebird can do tomorrow."