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NHRA TEAMS READY TO BATTLE AT PROLONG NORTHWEST NATIONALS KENT, Wash. - In seasons past, NHRA professional category teams viewed their trip to Seattle International Raceway as one where the object was simply to survive. For many years, the...

NHRA TEAMS READY TO BATTLE AT PROLONG NORTHWEST NATIONALS KENT, Wash. - In seasons past, NHRA professional category teams viewed their trip to Seattle International Raceway as one where the object was simply to survive. For many years, the event was the third in a trio of back-to-back-to-back events well known among drivers as the 'West Coast Swing.' One of the most grueling sections of the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series schedule, teams raced in Denver, headed directly to Sonoma, Calif. the following weekend, then packed up and set sail north to Seattle for yet another race weekend. The demanding tour often separated the pretenders from the contenders in the chase for Winston championship glory. Today, teams will head to SIR with a different outlook and a new strategy. A week's breathing room between Denver's Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals will afford teams the opportunity to better prepare for their assault on Seattle International Raceway. A rested crew, fresh engine parts and renewed enthusiasm could mean a performance explosion at the 12th annual Prolong Super Lubricants Northwest Nationals presented by Al's Auto Supply, July 30-Aug. 1, at Seattle International Raceway. The $1.3 million race is the 13th of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. Defending event winners include Joe Amato, Ron Capps and Warren Johnson in their respective professional categories. Amato, from Exeter, Pa., defeated Cory McClenathan in a tight final round contest for the 1998 Top Fuel victory. Amato and McClenathan have both earned victories this season and are among the leaders in the category. Winston points leader Mike Dunn, along with two-time defending Winston champion Gary Scelzi, are also threats to win. New Top Fuel title contenders Doug Herbert, Kenny Bernstein, Tony Schumacher and Bob Vandergriff Jr. will work to strengthen their points position. Capps, from San Diego, outran John Force to claim the Funny Car victory here one year ago. Capps has been in a slump this season behind the wheel of his Copenhagen Chevrolet Camaro, dropping to 15th in the Winston standings from his second place finish last year. Force, however, has been riding high in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, winning seven events. Whit Bazemore, Tommy Johnson Jr., Scotty Cannon and Tony Pedregon also are among pre-race favorites. It was a father-son battle for the crown last year in Pro Stock, as Warren defeated son Kurt for the trophy. The Johnsons have continued their winning ways this season, as Warren leads the Winston standings with five victories in his GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird. Kurt is anchoring second place in the point standings with two victories in his AC Delco Chevrolet Camaro. Richie Stevens, Amoco Dodge Avenger driver Allen Johnson and recent St. Louis victor Jim Yates also are among category leaders.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Mike Dunn , Kenny Bernstein , Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Scotty Cannon , Cory McClenathan , Allen Johnson , Tommy Johnson Jr.