Throughout this weekend's FRAM Autolite Nationals in Sonoma, California the two words that seemed to be the most prevalent in the Pro Stock pit area were "tire shake", a literal description of what happens to the massive rear slicks when a...
Throughout this weekend's FRAM Autolite Nationals in Sonoma, California the two words that seemed to be the most prevalent in the Pro Stock pit area were "tire shake", a literal description of what happens to the massive rear slicks when a racecar tries to apply too much power the track. As did many of their competitors, Tom Martino and the CENTURY 21 Racing Team fought this ailment on every pass down Sears Point Raceway, with dramatic results on two runs in particular. The first encounter happened in Friday night's qualifying session, when the force of Martino's Firebird rattling the tires was enough to snap a critical rear suspension component. Working late into the night, Martino and crew were able to recover and qualify 5th on Saturday.
However, they were not as fortunate the next time, as it cost them a chance at victory. In the first round of Sunday's final eliminations, Martino faced a tough opponent in Mark Pawuk. As the higher-qualified entry, Martino chose the preferred left lane. Although the two cars were dead even at the start, Martino's chances quickly faded, as teeth-jarring tire shake pulled his racecar violently to the right, forcing the New Jersey driver to completely lift off the throttle in order to regain control and avoid crossing the center line. Even though Pawuk encountered problems of his own towards the top end, slowing to a 7.20 elapsed time, Martino was unable to make up the lost ground in time to claim the round win. "That run was over almost before we started. I believe our problems may have started when the crew didn't line me up where I wanted after the burnout. As a result, it rattled the tires almost immediately, which in turn pulled it out of the groove and towards the middle of the track. I tried to bring it back, but it was out of control. I had no choice but to click it off.
"We're going to take the time between now and Brainerd to regroup. We'll go over our notes from the last few weeks and see what we can do to improve our Century 21 Firebird. We know power is not a problem, it's getting it to the ground in a consistent manner that's given us trouble. Our last race win came in Minnesota, and we want to do everything we can to put ourselves in a position to do it again."