Richmond Top Fuel notebook

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 PENNZOIL NATIONALS PRESENTED BY TRAK AUTO TOP FUEL NOTEBOOK *Hill hires new tuner: Eddie Hill has appointed Dan Olson as crew chief of his Pennzoil Top Fuel dragster for...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761

PENNZOIL NATIONALS PRESENTED BY TRAK AUTO TOP FUEL NOTEBOOK *Hill hires new tuner: Eddie Hill has appointed Dan Olson as crew chief of his Pennzoil Top Fuel dragster for the rest of 1997. Olson, 51, from Sanger, Calif., has tuned for many NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers, including Ed "The Ace" McCulloch, Danny Danell and Rance McDaniel. He served as crew chief for Bob Vandergriff Jr. from 1994-96, helping Vandergriff earn NHRA Winston Rookie of the Year honors in 1994. Olson has served as an unofficial adviser to Hill since late February, when Hill released his longtime crew chief, Fuzzy Carter. "I have a good feeling about this move," Hill said. "I have always assumed top responsibility for the tuning side of my team, but the sport has grown so complex, and the demands for time away from the car are so important that I feel lucky to have someone of Dan's ability on hand to share those responsibilities. "There are a lot of things we have been doing with the car that needed updating, and Dan saw that right away. He has already made a significant contribution to the team." Hill, the 1993 NHRA Winston champion, is 15th in the NHRA Winston point standings. *Meet the new boss: Team Scandia, a property of the International Motorsports Group, Inc., recently purchased the Royal Purple Motor Oil Top Fuel dragster team, featuring 18-year-old driver Cristen Powell. Team Scandia bought the team from Jim Epler, the first Funny Car driver to record a 300-mph speed in NHRA history. Epler started the team during the offseason. IMSG also operates the Professional SportsCar Racing sanctioning body and Sebring International Raceway in Florida. The company also plans to enter five cars in the Indianapolis 500 this May. "I'm pumped to be racing for Team Scandia," Powell said. "They won Ferrari its first championship in North America, and they sat on the front row at the Indy 500 last year. It doesn't get any better than that." Powell, from Portland, Ore., is tied for 13th in the NHRA Winston point standings. *Traders: Joe Amato and Gary Scelzi traded the NHRA Winston point lead for the third time this season, as Scelzi leaped past Amato into first place with his runner-up finish in the Team Winston Dragster at the Fram Nationals in early April at Atlanta. Scelzi led after each of the first three national events of the season. Amato took the lead after winning the Slick 50 Nationals presented by Western Auto in late March at Houston. *Top gun: Joe Amato may have fallen to second in the NHRA Winston point standings, but Mike Dunn thinks Amato still has the best car in Top Fuel in optimum conditions. "He definitely has the most powerful car out there and has the most powerful car consistently out there," Dunn said of Amato. "But he hasn't proven himself on the marginal tracks yet. "He's got talent and a good crew, and they're going to figure it out. Hopefully it takes them a little bit longer to figure it out so guys like myself and the other teams that do well at the marginal tracks can pick up some ground." *Fun car: Mike Dunn is one of a handful of NHRA Top Fuel drivers who also have raced in Funny Car during their careers, and he admits that he misses the Funny Car days a little bit. "It definitely is better being in a dragster when it's on fire," Dunn said. "But I like the Funny Car. I like driving the Funny Cars better than the dragster. There's more to do in them, and it feels more like a car. You're always sawing at the wheel, manhandling them. "But I must say that the dragsters, in the last year, are more of a challenge to drive because they're carrying the front end. We don't have those sissy wheelie bars like those Funny Car guys do, so you've got to keep an eye on them." Dunn raced in Funny Car from 1981-1991. He is one of only four active NHRA Top Fuel drivers to win a national event in both Top Fuel and Funny Car. The others are Kenny Bernstein, Jim Head and Scott Kalitta. *Star wars: Mike Dunn has been one of the millions of people who have gazed at the Hale-Bopp comet the last few months, and he admits that he thought about drag racing while looking at the big streak in the sky. "I keep looking up in the sky at the Hale-Bopp, looking for that UFO, hoping that they're going to take (John) Force and (Joe) Amato with them so maybe somebody else has a chance to win the championship," Dunn said with a laugh. *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 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- 4/15/97-RV2-059

Jack Durbin indy500@freenet.tlh.fl.us Motorsport News International jackd@motorsport.com (Moderators for "rec.autos.sport.info") Homepage http://www.freenet.tlh.fl.us/users/indy500/index.html

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Mike Dunn , Kenny Bernstein , Jim Epler , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Scott Kalitta , Bob Vandergriff , Cristen Powell