INDIANAPOLIS -- In his first appearance of the 1998 NHRA Winston Drag Racing season at the Mac Tools Gatornationals, Paul Romine didn'â€™t exactly have anything positive to write hope about. He will try to change his luck, April 3-5, at the 10th...
INDIANAPOLIS -- In his first appearance of the 1998 NHRA Winston Drag Racing season at the Mac Tools Gatornationals, Paul Romine didn'’t exactly have anything positive to write hope about. He will try to change his luck, April 3-5, at the 10th annual NHRA Winston Invitational at Rockingham Dragway, Rockingham, N.C.
At Gainesville, the CARQUEST Top Fuel Dragster experienced an intake valve failure within its 6000 horsepower engine, resulting in a destroyed engine. After rain delayed the event for a week, the CARQUEST team came back with a fresh engine and aspirations of qualifying for the event. On the first qualification pass after the rain delay, Romine experienced a wheel stand which he brought back to earth, but not before loosing the front wheel. Without steering, Romine slammed his new dragster into the cement retaining wall, damaging the McKinney chassis and forcing the CARQUEST team to withdraw from the event.
“Gainesville was just one of those events where if it could go wrong, it did,” Romine said. “After we experienced the engine problem, we went and tested, resulting in some of our best progressive times ever. The car was ready to be a contender at Gainesville, but it just didn’t work out thatway.”
With the ‘98 chassis at Murf McKinney’s chassis shop in Indiana being repaired, the CARQUEST team has gone back to the car that took them to the 1997 IHRA Top Fuel World Championship. The team used the chassis last weekend and at the IHRA Prolong Super Lubricants Winter Nationals in Bradenton, FL. and Romine was top qualifier of the event.
“I really like the new car and it will probably be back at our next event after Rockingham, but last season’s car is also a nice piece,” Romine said. “The old car is not build for me like the new car, but I’ve had a lot of success with it and I’m looking forward to making a few more laps in it this weekend.”
Back in the car that carried him to the IHRA championship last season, Romine returns to a track this weekend he competed at many years ago.
“Rockingham Dragway brings back a lot of memories for me because I competed there in the late 1970s and early 1980s with my Top Fuel Dragster and Nitro Funny Car,” he said. “Many people may not remember it, but when I was a partnered with Joe Hickman and competing with the Romine Crankshaft Top Fuel Dragster, we actually held the track mile-per-hour record for a while at the ‘Rock. It was also a fun place to race andI'’m looking forward to going back there.”
The NHRA Winston Invitational is a non-points events and 8-car qualified Top Fuel field with successful competitors enjoying a large pay day. The top qualifier in Top Fuel will receive a $10,000 bonus from VP Racing Fuels. The winner of Top Fuel will collect $100,000 while the 8-car qualified field and top 8-non qualifiers will all take home generous paychecks from Winston.
“The Winston Invitational is going to be a fun event,” Romine said.With the large sums of cash available and all the Top Fuel teams readily wanted a piece of the action, it’s going to be fierce.”
The first qualifying session begins Friday at 3 p.m. with the second session under-the-lights at 7 p.m. Qualifying concludes Saturday with two additional sessions with final eliminations set for Sunday.
The Winston Invitational will air on the Nashville Network (TNN), Sunday, April 12th at 1:30 p.m.
CARQUEST TOP FUEL DRAGSTER RACING NOTES:
-Harris a former winner at Rockingham-
CARQUEST Top Fuel Dragster crew chief Clayton Harris is no stranger to the Rockingham Dragway quarter-mile. Harris competed many years at the ‘Rock when it was an IHRA sanctioned track and won the 1976 IHRA U.S. Open Nationals.
-Romine begins defense of IHRA Top Fuel title-
Paul Romine and the CARQUEST Top Fuel Dragster team began its defense of the IHRA Top Fuel championship, March 27-29, at the Prolong Super Lubricants Winter Nationals in Bradenton, FL. Romine qualified #1 with a 4.86 and recorded three consecutive four-second elapsed times during qualifying. Unfortunately, tricky track conditions bite Romine and crew in round one as the CARQUEST Dragster went up in smoke and lost.
Romine career bests: 4.702 (Indianapolis) 304 (3/98 test session in Gainesville, FL)
Firsts: 300mph (Indianapolis), IHRA 4.8 (Darlington 3/97), IHRA 4.7 (Bristol 9/97)
‘97 IHRA Winning Percentage: 84% (16-3)
IHRA national ET record holder: 4.784 (Norwalk, 9/97)
Career wins: ‘97 Winter Ntls, ‘97 Autumn Chase Ntls97 World Ntls, 97 Snap-on Finals
One career NHRA round win: Joe Amato (‘97 NHRA Pennzoil Ntls, Virginia)