Seattle Century 21 Racing Team Preview

SEATTLE TO MARK THE START OF A BUSY FORTNIGHT FOR MARTINO CENTURY 21( Racing Team prepares to race three times in 10 days, starting with 12th Annual Prolong Northwest Nationals Parsippany, New Jersey, July 26, 1999 - With ten races left on...


CENTURY 21( Racing Team prepares to race three times in 10 days, starting with 12th Annual Prolong Northwest Nationals

Parsippany, New Jersey, July 26, 1999 - With ten races left on the 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Schedule, Tom Martino has his sights set squarely on two goals: Winning at least one national event and posting his fourth consecutive Top Ten points finish. Although both objectives are realistic and attainable, the CENTURY 21( Pro Stock Firebird pilot realizes that to have any chance for success, he must take full advantage of every opportunity available to him, starting with this weekend's Prolong Super Lubricants Northwest Nationals at Seattle International Raceway.

"I'm very proud of being able to finish in the Top Ten in the Winston Pro Stock points standings each of the last three years," stated Martino. "There are only three other drivers who can say that (Warren Johnson, Kurt Johnson and Jim Yates) and it's a streak this entire CENTURY 21( team really wants to keep going."

For someone with Martino's aspirations, arriving at the Washington State facility can be seen as a good news/bad news situation. On the positive side, the Kent event represents the first of two consecutive race weekends. In fact, the CENTURY 21( crew will be competing in three separate places over the next ten days, including a mid-week Pro Stock exhibition race in Woodburn, Oregon, which has become an annual tradition with the factory hot rods. The Martino team knows that with a good performance over this short period of time, major gains can be made, setting the tone for a productive stretch run.

As for the less than favorable side, several factors will stand in Martino's way. First, there will be the usual contingent of competitors, each one vying for the same success. In addition, the Martino crew will have to tame the tricky Seattle International Raceway surface. Qualifying takes on added significance here, as lane choice can be the determining factor on race day. Finally, Martino must come to grips with extracting every ounce of performance from his Firebird, taking the track, the conditions and his car's characteristics into account. There is no room for error, as a thousandth of a second can be the difference between the winner's circle and going home early.

Therefore, Martino has spent the time since the last event going over his race motors. With the team's transporter remaining in Colorado for periodic maintenance, Martino was forced to ship his engines to New Jersey in order to work on them. As the entire team would be on the road for the next two weeks, this would be their last opportunity to check their primary powerplants and test them on the dynamometer. In fact, following the Denver race, there were some questions on one part of the assembly that Martino needed answered, as it could have bearing on the remainder of the West Coast swing.

"We had some different carburetors on our engines in Denver with a different style of booster," explained Martino. "When we originally tested them on the dyno, and on the first couple of runs in the car they seemed to give us some extra power. We were pumped up. Unfortunately, when the weather changed, we had problems, which we seemed to have traced back to the new carbs. So before we head back out, we need to know what we're going to run. It's all part of trying to get an advantage.

"But for now, our focus will be on finding a good, repeatable level of performance. From the time we arrive at the track, we need to make solid, productive runs. We've always said we're looking to qualify well and win rounds on Sunday. Unfortunately, we just haven't been able to do that consistently this year. But we feel our backs against the wall now, and that is historically when this team has done its best. Starting with this weekend in Seattle, we want to have some long Sundays with our CENTURY 21( Firebird."

MARTINO MOMENTS: This will be Tom's third race with the Jerry Bickel race chassis, which he purchased following the Columbus race.... This will be Tom's fourth Pro Stock appearance at Seattle International Raceway...Martino looks to improve upon his two quarterfinal finishes.

Fast Facts

WHAT: 12th Annual Prolong Super Lubricants Northwest Nationals the thirteenth event of the 22-race 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series Schedule.

WHEN: July 30 - August 1, 1999

WHERE: Seattle International Raceway, Kent, Washington

SCHEDULE: Professional qualifying sessions start on Friday, July 30 with two sessions at 2:30 and 6:30 p.m., and conclude on Saturday, July 31 with two rounds at 11:15 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, August 1.

TV: ESPN2 will air one hour of final-round coverage from 8:00 - 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 1, two hours of first-round coverage from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 1 and one round of qualifying highlights on Saturday, July 31 from 10:00 p.m. - Midnight (All times are Eastern). As always, please check your local listings.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Warren Johnson , Tom Martino