MARTINO RIDES A BUCKING BRONCO IN DALLAS ENNIS, Texas, May 3, 1998 - In the first round of eliminations at this weekend's Castrol Nationals at the Texas Motorplex, Six Flags Theme Parks pilot Tom Martino twice conjured memories of the cowboys...
MARTINO RIDES A BUCKING BRONCO IN DALLAS
ENNIS, Texas, May 3, 1998 - In the first round of eliminations at this weekend's Castrol Nationals at the Texas Motorplex, Six Flags Theme Parks pilot Tom Martino twice conjured memories of the cowboys for which this state is so well known. First, Martino showed a gunslinger's prowess as he out drew former Pro Stock champion Darrell Alderman on the starting line with an impressive .419 reaction time. This gave the Thrill Machine driver over three hundredths of a second advantage. However, as he powered down the track, Martino's run soon became the NHRA's version of bronco busting. He experienced severe tire shake, which sent his Firebird shooting towards the centerline. As Martino fought to regain control, the tail suddenly whipped his car back towards the outside wall, forcing him to lift off the throttle to save his race car, and allowing Alderman to edge by for the round win.
"The track really threw us a curve this weekend," stated Martino. "We made some adjustments to our Six Flags Thrill Machine based on our first qualifying pass on Saturday and our initial check on conditions from this morning. We honestly thought the track would be better than it was, so we were heavy on the clutch. I got a good start, but it shook the tires and got the car completely out of shape. After that, we were done."
For the second straight week, the Six Flags Racing team was able to carefully dial in their Firebird for the conditions, with their elapsed times in qualifying never outside the top ten. On their first pass, Martino's 7.087-second elapsed time established a base line from which they could fine-tune their performance. In the second session on Friday evening, their 7.046 second effort vaulted the Thrill Machine to third overall. In what was the best round on Saturday morning, Martino virtually duplicated his elapsed time, but raised his top speed to 195.48 miles-per hour. Although now tenth on the eliminations ladder, their position in Sunday's eliminations was secure, as rising temperatures would preclude any changes in the last time trial. This set the stage for the first round match-up against Alderman.
"The Six Flags Theme Parks Racing team is very happy that we qualified off the sixteenth spot," explained Martino. "But we honestly felt we could have been number 5 or 6. We were a little off in the best session on Saturday morning, which pushed us down to tenth, which isn't bad. There were a lot of fast cars here that didn't make the show. We're still in the Top Ten in points, and are heading to our home track in Englishtown. We're looking for big things there!"
In Sunday's Pro Stock final, Mike Edwards edged Kurt Johnson to capture his first win of the season. The NHRA's best will take a well-deserved weekend off before moving east for the Mopar Parts Nationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey, May 14-17.