MARTINO AIMS TO UNCORK A WIN IN SONOMA CENTURY 21 Racing Team looks for keys to success at the 12th Annual Prolong Autolite Nationals Parsippany, New Jersey, August 3, 1999 - For CENTURY 21( Pro Stock Firebird pilot Tom Martino, the 1999 NHRA...
MARTINO AIMS TO UNCORK A WIN IN SONOMA
CENTURY 21 Racing Team looks for keys to success at the 12th Annual Prolong Autolite Nationals
Parsippany, New Jersey, August 3, 1999 - For CENTURY 21( Pro Stock Firebird pilot Tom Martino, the 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing season has been like reading a mystery novel. Through many twists and turns worthy of Agatha Christie, Martino has experienced both highs and lows while searching for an answer. But rather than land a fictitious culprit in jail, Martino is looking for the solution to get his team in the winner's circle. And just like Hercule Poirot closing in on a suspect, Tom Martino is confident of cracking the case, perhaps as soon as this weekend's Autolite Nationals in Sonoma, California.
"Each week we have made progress with our CENTURY 21( Firebird," stated Martino. "But we're still not performing the way we want. For every answer we get, there seems to be another question. When you're racing in a division where winning and losing is decided by a thousandth of a second, that doesn't leave much room for guessing. That's why finding consistency is so important."
But one advantage the paperback supersleuths have over the Martino crew is that the backdrop never changes. Naturally, this is not the case on the racing circuit, where every race brings a different locale, each with its own characteristics. For example, this weekend's event is held at Sears Point Raceway. This multi-purpose facility located in the heart of the California wine country also hosts several road races throughout the year. In fact, the different series share the straightaway on which the world's best quarter-milers will compete. For the third time in as many contests, teams will have to deal with a different set of track and atmospheric conditions, which in this case means higher temperatures and humidity.
In addition, there can be no dramatic confession by the perpetrator to quickly solve this case, as the Martino crew's primary suspect is their racecar. The team knows the potential exists, and has seen glimpses of its race-winning ability. It is extracting such performance on a repeatable basis, which so far has seemed to elude them. However, just like any good investigator, the Martino crew continues to pursue leads, relentlessly poring over information gathered on runs over their last three years of competition.
This past week, the team's pre-Sonoma preparation included a two-day stop in Woodburn, Oregon for an invitational Pro Stock race. Here teams compete without the pressures of a national event, which despite the work is a welcome respite during this West Coast tour. But rather than focusing on winning, Martino plans to take advantage of the extra runs to try out equipment and set-ups in a high-speed test session.
"Lately, we've had a problem getting down the back portion of the track, which has affected our overall performance," explained Martino. "There are some different carburetors we have that we think could help us. We have some data from running them on the dyno, but we need to see what happens when they're in the car. When we get to Woodburn, we'll see what condition the track is in. If we think it's capable of yielding some good runs, we'll make several passes to get as much information as possible. Hopefully, we'll find something in Oregon that will help in Sonoma.
"We need to establish a solid baseline from which we can tune the car. I can't say we've done that yet, but we're far from giving up. We're closing in on it, and are determined to get it done in the near future. I can't think of a better place to put it all together than this weekend in Sonoma. I know it can't be soon enough for any of us!"
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MARTINO MOMENTS: As part of the CENTURY 21( "Drive It Home" Sweepstakes Tour, Tom Martino will be making a personal appearance at the CENTURY 21( booth on the manufacturer's midway at Sears Point Raceway.....This will be Tom's fourth race with the Jerry Bickel race chassis, which he purchased following the Columbus race.... This will be Tom's fourth Pro Stock appearance at Sears Point Raceway.
WHAT: 12th Annual Autolite Nationals the fourteenth event of the 22-race 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series Schedule.
WHEN: August 6 - 8, 1999
WHERE: Sears Point Raceway, Sonoma, California
SCHEDULE: Professional qualifying sessions start on Friday, August 6 with two sessions at 2:30 and 6:30 p.m., and conclude on Saturday, August 7 with two rounds at 11:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, August 8.
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.