St Louis: Tom Martino qualifying report

In the highly competitive world of Pro Stock racing, the search for speed is never-ending. In qualifying for this weekend's Sears Craftsman Nationals, Tom Martino and the CENTURY 21 Firebird Racing team battled varying weather conditions, the...

In the highly competitive world of Pro Stock racing, the search for speed is never-ending. In qualifying for this weekend's Sears Craftsman Nationals, Tom Martino and the CENTURY 21 Firebird Racing team battled varying weather conditions, the competition and a new set-up in their racecar as they tried to master the tricky Gateway International Raceway surface. The fact that he was sitting in the precarious 16th position entering the final session only served to heighten pressure. Martino responded with the 4th quickest pass of the round at 6.999 seconds, which came with a top speed of 196.44 miles per hour. Although this qualified Martino 14th for Sunday's final eliminations, his challenge had just begun, as he will face current points leader Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the first round.

"We tested in Indy before we came here, and thought we had found a set of carburetors that was worth some e.t… We were so convinced they were better that we used them on Thursday instead of establishing a baseline with our regular set. In the first session, we didn't make a really good run, and the motor didn't seem happy, but we were sixth quickest, so we figured if we cleaned the run up we'd be okay.

"In the night session, we made a really nice run, but every time I would change gears the car would just about shut off laboring along before finally cleaning out and taking off. We swapped motors after that, but made the mistake of putting the new carburetors on it, and it went out this morning and did the same thing. After that, we put our original motor back in with our old carburetors and made a pretty good pass. That last run was more like a baseline pass. We were so tied up with solving our problem that we didn't have a chance to fool with anything.

"We have a tough challenge ahead of us tomorrow. Lane choice is huge at this track, and I'll be in the bad lane when I face Jeggie, who's making great runs. We'll make some changes to our CENTURY 21 Firebird before the first round, trying to make a strong run in the right lane. On top of that, I'll need to get a few hundredths on the tree. It's a challenge, but I think we're up to it."

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Tom Martino