Romine returns to Bristol for Showdown

BRISTOL, TN (July 3, 2000)-- It has been three years since Paul Romine guided his CARQUEST Auto Parts Top Fuel Dragster down the quarter-mile at Bristol Dragway. Since then, many things have changed at the historic facility. Bristol Dragway is...

BRISTOL, TN (July 3, 2000)-- It has been three years since Paul Romine guided his CARQUEST Auto Parts Top Fuel Dragster down the quarter-mile at Bristol Dragway. Since then, many things have changed at the historic facility. Bristol Dragway is an entirely new facility and now home to the NHRA Winston Showdown, drag racing's all-star event.

Bristol Dragway holds a special meaning for Romine as it is the place he won an IHRA national event and set a track record in 1997 with then an incredible 4.74 elapsed time on the old track. But Bristol is also the location where he survived a frightful Top Fuel blowover. Entering the 1997 IHRA Spring Nationals, Romine was cruising along and enjoying Top Fuel racing in his return to the sport after a 15-year absence. He had won a national event and earned a semi-final finish at the NHRA Virginia Nationals prior to the Spring event at Bristol. Then in the first round of competition, Romine left the line with the wheels in the air. They settled down like a normal run, then they quickly return skyward and never came down, resulting in a Top Fuel blowover.

"I remember everything about the blowover, but it seems like a lifetime ago," Romine said. "Bristol is a whole new place and I can't wait to race there again. It's a totally different place than the last time we entered the gates, but it's still Bristol with a unique setting and great echoing sound. A lot of drag racing history has taken place at Bristol and its a great place to drag race."

Romine and the CARQUEST Auto Parts team are vying for one of two open qualifying spots for non-NHRA national event winning Top Fuel teams at the NHRA Winston Showdown.

The NHRA Winston Showdown is a unique event as it pits Top Fuel Dragsters vs. Nitro Funny Cars with the winner getting $200,000. The Showdown is made up by a 24-car field consisting of the ten (10) most recent NHRA Winston champions and NHRA national event winners from each category -- 10 Top Fuel and 10 Funny Car -- plus four (4) open positions. The quickest two (2) dragster qualifiers and the quickest two (2) funny car qualifiers of the non-seeded competitors will fill the final two positions for eliminations. Ladder positions will be based on qualifying times.

A 4-tenths pro start utilizing a handicap start for the funny cars. A handicap will be in effect for the entire event (qualifying and eliminations). Handicap to be based off the first twelve (12) NHRA National Events of the 2000 season. To establish the handicap, the average ET of the top six (6) dragster and top six (6) funny car qualifiers from each event will be calculated. The handicap will be the difference between the two. For example, if the funny car average for the twelve events is 4.916 seconds and the dragster average is 4.656; the difference will be 4.916 - 4.656 = .260 seconds. The established handicap for the event would become .26. Handicap to be rounded to the nearest hundredth of a second (ie: .263 = .26; .268 = .27).

Sound confusing? For Romine and the CARQUEST team, getting into the field is top priority before worrying about how round winners are determined.

"I'd love to be in the field due to an NHRA event win, but we'll just do it the old fashion way and earn a spot based on our performance," Romine said.

As for racing Funny Cars, Romine has done it before and isn't worried about them getting a head start.

"I've lined up against a Funny Car in a Top Fuel Dragster once I believe," Romine said. "At the '97 Snowbird Nationals in Florida, I raced Jim Epler and he beat me. It was heads up then and this of course is based on a handicap, but a good driver should only see his light so if I do my job and the crew does their job, I don't care when the Funny Car leaves. I'm just going to concentrate on the finish line stripe and get there first."

The NHRA Winston Showdown kicks off Friday, July 7th with Nitro Qualifying at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Qualifying concludes Saturday, July 8th at 12 noon with final eliminations beginning at 5 p.m. A specially designed elimination ladder will match dragsters against funny cars in the first round. The #1 qualified dragster will race the #12 funny car; the #2 dragster against #11 funny car; and so on through to the #12 dragster against #1 funny car.

The winner of the NHRA Winston Showdown will be determined Sunday, July 9th, from the sixteen (16) cars that advance - the twelve (12) first round winners, plus two first round losing dragsters and two first round losing funny cars. The order of priority for re-inserting cars will be: the reigning NHRA Winston Champion (if a 1st round loser), number one qualifier (if a 1st round loser), then quickest loser and second quickest loser if needed. The re-inserted cars will only be compensated for the last round they compete in (not 1st round).

Still confused on how the NHRA Winston Showdown works? Don't worry, it will all be explained on ESPN2 coverage of the event. Qualifying will air Saturday, July 8th from 10 p.m. - 12 midnight ET. with final eliminations airing Sunday, July 9th from 9:30 - 11 p.m. ET.

Prior to the NHRA Winston Showdown, fans can meet Paul Romine and see the CARQUEST Top Fuel Dragster, Thursday, July 6th, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the CARQUEST Auto Parts store, 1901 W. State Street, Bristol, VA. For location of the store, visit

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Paul Romine , Jim Epler