Tom Martino Atlanta Preview

MARTINO AIMS HIGH IN ATLANTA CENTURY 21 Racing Team looks to build on career marks from Richmond at Advance Auto Parts Nationals Parsippany, New Jersey, May 10, 1999 - Two weeks ago in Richmond, Tom Martino rewrote his personal record book, ...


CENTURY 21 Racing Team looks to build on career marks from Richmond at Advance Auto Parts Nationals

Parsippany, New Jersey, May 10, 1999 - Two weeks ago in Richmond, Tom Martino rewrote his personal record book, setting new marks in both elapsed time and top speed. However, the significance of these accomplishments is secondary to this highly competitive racer from Farmingdale, New Jersey. To him, they are merely numbers on a timeslip. The truly important achievement from that last race was that they were able to predict their racecar's performance based on the adjustments they made to it. As a result, the entire CENTURY 21 Pro Stock Firebird Racing team has a renewed sense of confidence as they arrive at Atlanta Dragway for this weekend's NHRA Advance Auto Parts Nationals.

"This is only our seventh national event with this particular racecar," stated Martino. "It's different from any other I've ever had, and so far, this season has been a learning experience. Although it's taken longer than I would have liked, I'm confident we're finally getting a handle on what makes this CENTURY 21 Firebird run. I'm excited about this weekend."

Naturally, the road to the winner's circle will be full of obstacles. As at every race, over thirty entrants are expected to battle for the Pro Stock win. In addition, the Atlanta Dragway facility offers a challenge all its own. When it was repaved several years ago, the new surface proved to be very coarse, not the fine grain found at other locations. This offered a reduced area for the massive Goodyear racing slicks to adhere to and lessened its ability to handle power. The crew chiefs' task is further complicated by having to compensate for the track's gradual improvement due to aging and on-track competition.

The timing of this event could also play a major role. The 1999 NHRA schedule placed the Atlanta race more than a month later than it was last year, and warmer temperatures are expected. If so, the track will become slick and less receptive to full power, high-speed passes, a scenario that will become more and more familiar as the world's best quarter-milers delve further into the summer months. But for now this means that for the third time in as many races, teams will have to adjust for a completely different combination of racetrack and weather conditions.

Facing a second set of consecutive races, the CENTURY 21 crew looked to bolster their chances for success by scheduling a quick one-day test session at the Darlington Dragway on their way down to Atlanta. A similar two-day trial had been halted by rain two weeks ago, and despite the positive results achieved during the last race in Richmond, the Martino team knows that the best way to arm themselves is to add even more information about their Firebird's performance characteristics to their

data banks. Therefore, since the South Carolina track was on their way, they decided to take advantage of the situation. It is an investment of time that could pay immediate dividends.

"The Atlanta track is a tricky one, and having the race a month later won't make our job any easier," explained Martino. "When you're talking about fields separated by thousandths of a second, there's no room for error. Every adjustment is critical, so the information from our test session could prove useful. It will be our job this weekend to find the combination that best marries our power to the racing surface. If we do that, the CENTURY 21 Race team should be able to put themselves in a position to win on Sunday."

MARTINO MOMENTS: Tom Martino will be making a personal appearance at Lou Sobh Pontiac Buick GMC in Duluth, Georgia on Thursday, May 13 from 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. For directions, please call (770) 232-0099....Also on Thursday, as part of the culmination of the week-long CENTURY 21 "Drive It Home" Sweepstakes mall event WZGC 92.9FM (Z93) will have a live remote from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. at the Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody, Georgia and will award the lease of a brand-new Firebird to one lucky winner ....This will be Tom's fourth Pro Stock appearance at Atlanta Dragway ..... Tom looks to improve upon his semi-final finish at this event from 1996.

Fast Facts

WHAT: 8th annual Advance Auto Parts Nationals, the seventh event on the 22-race 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series Schedule.

WHEN: May 13 - 16, 1999

WHERE: Atlanta Dragway, Commerce, Georgia

SCHEDULE: Professional qualifying sessions start on Friday, May 14 with two sessions at 1:45 and 5:45 p.m., and conclude on Saturday, May 15 with two rounds at 11:15 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, May 16.

TV: Fox Sports will broadcast two hours of same-day final-round coverage from 7-9 p.m. on Sunday, May 16 (Local time). In addition, Speedvision will have one hour of qualifying highlights from 8-9 p.m. on Saturday, May 15 and two hours of first round coverage from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, May 16 (All Speedvision times are Eastern). As always, please check your local listings.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tom Martino