Seattle Top Fuel notebook

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 NORTHWEST NATIONALS TOP FUEL NOTEBOOK *Great expectations: Cristen Powell considers Seattle International Raceway her home track, as her hometown of Portland, Ore., is...


Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761

NORTHWEST NATIONALS TOP FUEL NOTEBOOK *Great expectations: Cristen Powell considers Seattle International Raceway her home track, as her hometown of Portland, Ore., is only 2 1/2 hours away. Her car owner, motorsports magnate Andy Evans, lives in the Northwest and plans to attend the Northwest Nationals at SIR with his family and friends. Many of Powell's family and friends also will attend. It sounds like a recipe for added pressure, but Powell doesn't think so. "There's always a lot of pressure," Powell said. "I don't think there's more pressure at Seattle but more excitement. The people up there are my kind of people. It's the area that we want to impress." *Magic number: While one of Cristen Powell's goals is to win more races, she also has a very specific performance goal etched in her mind for this season. "We want to go 300 so badly," Powell said. "In the drag racing world, not having a 300-mph run is almost embarrassing. Hopefully we can do it at Seattle." Powell's career-best speed is 298.30 mph at the Pennzoil Nationals presented by Trak Auto in late April at Richmond, Va. She is the only race winner this season without a 300-mph speed. *Streak ends, survives: One streak ended, while another continued after the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals for the Team Winston Dragster driven by Gary Scelzi and owned by Alan Johnson. Scelzi failed to reach the semifinals for the first time in 12 races this season, losing to event winner Cory McClenathan in the quarterfinals in mid-July at Denver. "It was strange not being in the semifinals, but we knew it was coming," Scelzi said. "No streak lasts forever. Cory and his team were outstanding at Denverm and we struggled a little bit with our tuneup and our new car." Scelzi's first-round victory ensured that Johnson's dragster continued a streak of winning at least one round at the last 30 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series national events. The last time Johnson's car lost in the first round was at the 1995 U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis with the late Blaine Johnson behind the wheel. *Juggling act: Cristen Powell will continue to race this fall despite attending classes as a freshman at Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore., about one hour from her home in Portland. Powell, who will live in the dorms, plans to study psychology. She also will need to be creative with her class schedule to accomodate her racing schedule. "I'm just going to do my best in classes and not schedule any Friday classes," Powell said. "It's going to be tough, but I'm looking forward to it." *No second chances: Five-time NHRA Winston Top Fuel champion Joe Amato is an avid, near-par golfer, so it's only natural that he used a golfing term to describe his all-or-nothing performances this season in the Keystone Automotive Warehouse Dragster. Amato appeared in the final round at five of the first 12 races, with four victories. He lost in the first round at five of the other seven races, creating a 190-point deficit to Scelzi in the NHRA Winston point standings. Scelzi also has four victories this season but no first-round losses. "There have been some times that I'd like to have had a mulligan in some of those first rounds," Amato said, referring to the golf term for getting a second chance after an errant shot. "That's the difference right now, our first-round losses compared to Gary's consistency. "There are no mulligans in our sport. If you make a mistake, it can end your day or your season." *Connie's comeback on hold: It's uncertain when or if Connie Kalitta will end his leave of absence from Top Fuel racing this season. Kalitta stepped out of his American International Airways Dragster after the fifth race of the season, the Fram Nationals in mid-April at Atlanta, to concentrate on his thriving air-cargo business. But a return by Kalitta would create a big question for the American International Airways team. After Kalitta quit, his son, Scott Kalitta, took over that car and improved dramatically. Would Connie return to his car, sending Scott back to his balky old car? "As far as the cars, we don't know because I don't know if my dad will come back and run this year or not," Scott Kalitta said. "It may be next year. He doesn't know what he is doing personally tomorrow, let alone in two months. "New cars will have a lot to do with what Dad decides he wants to do. Ed and I have decided that my car I ran at the beginning of the year is possessed, and we would rather have nothing to do with it again." *Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 3 p.m. Aug. 1 and continues at 7 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at noon and 4 p.m. Aug.2. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. Aug. 3. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 9:15 a.m. Aug. 1. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the Northwest Nationals. Call Seattle International Raceway at (206) 631-1550. Tickets also are available at Ticketmaster outlets in Washington, Oregon and western Canada. *On TV: ESPN2 will televise two hours of same-day, final-round competition from the Northwest Nationals at 5:30 p.m. (PDT) Aug. 3. ESPN2 also will show two hours of live, Friday-night qualifying at 7 p.m. (PDT) Aug. 1. -30- 7/22/97-SW2-114

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Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Scelzi , Cory McClenathan , Scott Kalitta , Andy Evans , Cristen Powell