St. Louis Pro Stock notebook

SEARS CRAFTSMAN NATIONALS PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK *Spinning wheels: At first glance, it appears that Warren Johnson was downright sleepy at the starting line during consecutive first-round losses at the Mopar Parts Nationals at...

SEARS CRAFTSMAN NATIONALS PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK *Spinning wheels: At first glance, it appears that Warren Johnson was downright sleepy at the starting line during consecutive first-round losses at the Mopar Parts Nationals at Englishtown, N.J., and the Western Auto Parts America Nationals at Topeka, Kan. Johnson lost both races on a holeshot, as his disadvantage in reaction time to the starting light was greater than his advantage in elapsed time on the track, causing him to lose with a quicker time. But Johnson insists that his reaction-time problems were caused by tire spin, not sluggish reflexes. "At Englishtown, the video showed that there was a full revolution of the rear tire, and the car never moved," Johnson said. "That's 103 inches of tire, and the car never moved." Three weeks ago, continued refinement of his chassis helped Johnson reduce tire spin and produce strong reaction times of .445, .467 and .451 seconds during an exhibition race in Huntsville, Ala. A perfect reaction time is .400 seconds. *Tom terrific: Tom Martino earned his fourth holeshot victory of the season -- best among all drivers in the four professional categories -- by beating Terry Adams in the first round of the Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing on June 15 near Columbus, Ohio. Martino, from Farmingdale, N.J., went on to win the event in the MaMa Rosa's Pizza Pontiac Firebird. A driver earns a holeshot victory when his advantage in reaction time is greater than his opponent's edge in elapsed time. Martino took the lead in the Slick 50 Performer of the Year standings with his fourth holeshot victory. *Under construction: Ford will not debut its Ranger pickups in the exhibition NHRA Pro Stock Truck program at this event as scheduled due to construction delays. The two Fords, driven by Roy Hill and Richie Stevens, will debut at the Autolite Nationals, July 25-27 at Sonoma, Calif. The Pro Stock Truck program started at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing, June 12-15 at National Trail Raceway in Columbus, Ohio, with exhibition passes by two Chevrolet S-10 pickups driven by Jerry Haas and John Lingenfelter. Dodge will debut two Dakota pickups, driven by Team Mopar Pro Stock competitors Darrell Alderman and Scott Geoffrion, at the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, July 17-20 at Denver. All six trucks will participate on an exhibition basis at the remaining NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series events this season starting at the Autolite Nationals. The Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge trucks each are powered by a 358 cubic-inch, eight-cylinder engine. The minimum weight of the trucks with driver is 2,300 pounds. *Hammonds driving another lane: Denver Nuggets power forward Tom Hammonds plans to continue his second season of NHRA Pro Stock racing at this event. Hammonds, 30, from Crestview, Fla., failed to qualify in his first three NHRA events this season, starting with the Mopar Parts Nationals in mid-May at Englishtown, N.J. Hammonds, 6-foot-9, will compete in the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series until late September, when he joins Nuggets' training camp. "I see my days in the NBA winding down," Hammonds said. "I can envision myself playing only another three or four years. That's the point of me making my move into Pro Stock now, because being Tom Hammonds the NBA basketball player -- as opposed to when I'm finished playing – might open doors." *Back in black: Warren Johnson unveiled a new sponsor and paint scheme for his Pontiac Firebird two weeks ago at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals near Columbus, Ohio. WJ's car now is sponsored by GM Goodwrench Service Plus and is painted in a silver-and-black scheme very similar to that worn by the Chevrolet of seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt. Johnson drove a black-and-silver Oldsmobile sponsored by GM Goodwrench Performance Parts in 1986 and 1987. Since 1993, Johnson has carried the red, white and blue colors of GM Performance Parts, which continues as an associate sponsor of his Pontiac. *Expo: The exciting sights and personalities of NHRA Winston Drag Racing will come to downtown St. Louis for the first time during the Western Auto Parts America "Thunder In The Streets" motorsports expo June 25. "Thunder In The Streets" is a street festival with a motorsports theme. The expo, open from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., will take place in Kiener Plaza, bordered by Market Street, Chestnut Street, Seventh Street and Broadway. Admission is free. Nearly 20 interactive displays, NHRA race cars and race-car transporters will be on display for fans. Many top NHRA drivers will sign autographs, including Kenny Bernstein, John Force, Shelly Anderson and Randy Anderson. *Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 3:30 p.m. June 27 and continues at 7:30 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. June 28. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. June 29. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 10 a.m. June 26. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the Sears Craftsman Nationals. Call (888) 82-SPEED. Tickets also are available at MetroTix outlets. *On TV: ABC will televise one hour of highlights from the Sears Craftsman Nationals at 4 p.m. (CDT) July 6. -30-

6/17/97-MI4-094

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Series NHRA
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Darrell Alderman , Warren Johnson , John Force , John Lingenfelter , Tom Hammonds , Tom Martino , Scott Geoffrion , Terry Adams , Jerry Haas , Shelly Anderson