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RICK SANTOS LOOKS TO REPEAT 1998 PERFORMANCE IN THE OAKWOOD HOMES FEDERAL-MOGUL DRAGSTER POMONA, CALIF. --- It will be hard to duplicate the season Rick Santos had in his Oakwood Homes Federal-Mogul Dragster in 1998, but the team is up for the...

RICK SANTOS LOOKS TO REPEAT 1998 PERFORMANCE IN THE OAKWOOD HOMES FEDERAL-MOGUL DRAGSTER

POMONA, CALIF. --- It will be hard to duplicate the season Rick Santos had in his Oakwood Homes Federal-Mogul Dragster in 1998, but the team is up for the challenge. The combination started off 1998 with seven consecutive wins, clinching the Pacific Division championship in July and national championship in October. The 1999 Federal-Mogul Drag Racing season could prove to be even more difficult because of the tough competition. The Oakwood Homes team will also debut a new car at the Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., February 4-7. "I started building the car in November of 1997," said Santos. "It was a night and weekend project that was treated like a hobby. My dad George and brother Jeff both helped out a lot. It is the first alcohol car I have ever built, but I have built a super comp and comp eliminator car before. The car will be lighter with a smaller motor than the car we have competed with for the past three years. The serial number on the car is 003 which is sort of ironic, because in 1999 we will be going for our third consecutive championship." Although the Oakwood Homes Racing team has high hopes of bettering their 1998 performance, they realize they have a tough road ahead of them. "It will be a hard act to follow the results we had last year," said Santos. "I do think our chances are just as good this year as they were last year. We will definitely need a lot of luck on our side. There are a lot of cars out there that pose a threat, but we need to remember to concentrate on our own program and try our best to win." Santos won the Winternationals in 1998, starting off a win streak that lasted five months before losing in the second round in the national event at Sonoma, Calif., when an oil line broke. In 1998, Santos qualified second for the Winternationals and defeated Mike Strasburg in the first round, Darren Nicholson in the second round and Gary Anderson in the semi-finals. In the final, Santos went up against Rick Henkelmen. Henkelmen smoked the tires and Santos won with an E.T. of 5.524 and speed of 253.16 mph. The two teams competed again at Pomona in the final race of the season. This race proved to be the quickest side-by-side race in Federal-Mogul dragster history. Henkelmen in his injected nitro dragster defeated Santos with an E.T. of 5.387 and speed of 258.84 mph over Santos' E.T. of 5.483 and speed of 257.43 mph. The NHRA enforced some rule changes for the injected nirto cars in early January. "I don't know that the rule changes to the injected nitro cars will make a big difference," said Santos. "We need to try new things and improve our own game and not worry about them." The Oakwood Homes team ended their 1998 season strong running three times in the 5.4-second range in Pomona. Following the season finale, the Oakwood Homes team has been busy preparing for the season opener in Pomona. To date, Santos has four wins at Pomona Raceway. Santos and crew chief Norm Grimes will test the new car at Chandler, Ariz., January 23-24. "We need to be ready for Pomona," said Santos. "It's important to finish well there because it sets the standard for the whole season. If you finish well, it gives you a bit of confidence. Our season last year gave us a lot of confidence, but it will be a hard season to improve. We had such a good year, but of course our goal is to do better and you can bet our focus in 1999 is on a third consecutive Federal-Mogul dragster national championship."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Rick Santos , Mike Strasburg , Gary Anderson