Rockingham Winston Invitational

Date: Thu, 27 Mar 1997 13:08:22 -0800 Contact: Rob Goodman (910) 741-5297 E-mail: goodmar@rjrt.com Sports Marketing Enterprises R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. ...

Date: Thu, 27 Mar 1997 13:08:22 -0800

Contact: Rob Goodman (910) 741-5297 E-mail: goodmar@rjrt.com Sports Marketing Enterprises R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. 3/25/97

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. -- The old adage, "It doesn't matter whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game," certainly doesn't apply for the Winston Invitational. Winning is the only thing at the all-star event on April 4-6 at Rockingham Dragway.

The Winston Invitational is a special non-points event with a total purse of $685,000 in guaranteed money, which makes it the richest event on the 23-event 1997 NHRA Winston Drag Racing tour.

Winners in Top Fuel and Funny Car will each take home $100,000. The Pro Stock champion will garner $50,000 in Winston money, and the winner in Pro Stock Motorcycle will collect $10,000.

"I think it's great that Winston is putting up all that money," said Ron Capps, driver of the Copenhagen Funny Car. "It doesn't sound like it, but it's really a low-pressure race because there are no points involved. That should make it fun. It's kind of like the Skins Game because you can relax a little, maybe test something new, and then there's the added bonus of 100 grand from Winston."

"For me, it's all about the money," said Cory McClenathan, driver of the McDonald's Top Fuel dragster. "The No. 1 qualifier pays $10,000, so if you win that and the race, you could walk away from Rockingham with $110,000. That's pretty impressive."

Pro Stock Motorcycles return to the Winston Invitational in 1997 for the first time since 1992. It is only the third appearance in the nine-year history of the event for the Pro Stock Motorcycles.

"The money is very exciting for us," said Close Card Phone Card driver Angelle Seeling. "If we win the race and the $10,000 plus the $1,000 bonus for No. 1 qualifier, we can win about half of what we take home for winning the Winston Championship, so it's a great purse for us, and we're happy that Winston chose to include Pro Stock Motorcycles again."

In addition to the money, the Winston Invitational is unique in that only the eight quickest drivers make the field in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock Motorcycle. The Pro Stock field remains at 16 cars.

"It may be the richest event we have, but it's also the toughest," McClenathan said. "A couple of years ago, there were maybe 10 cars that were capable of making the field for the Winston Invitational. Now there are about 20 really good cars that can make the show."

Making the show at "The Rock" will be tough, and qualifying will be extremely intense.

"We couldn't run this sport without the people from Winston, and this is their race," McClenathan said. "So if they want it to be a no-points deal, then we're happy with that. It's almost like having a weekend off because the guys get to come in early and play some golf at Pinehurst and then turn around and race for $100,000. We don't see that kind of money all year long so we're happy with whatever format Winston wants to use."

Qualifying for the Winston Invitational is set for 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Friday, April 4 and noon and 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 5. Eliminations begin at noon on Sunday, April 6. Tickets are available at the Rockingham Dragway at (910) 582-3400.

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 Ron Capps , Cory McClenathan