Tom Martino Ready to Attack at Phoenix

A DETERMINED MARTINO IS POISED TO ATTACK IN ARIZONA CENTURY 21 "Drive It Home" Promotion to kick off in Phoenix Parsippany, New Jersey, February 24, 1999 -- Firebird International Raceway is located in the Arizona desert just south of Phoenix.

A DETERMINED MARTINO IS POISED TO ATTACK IN ARIZONA CENTURY 21 "Drive It Home" Promotion to kick off in Phoenix

Parsippany, New Jersey, February 24, 1999 -- Firebird International Raceway is located in the Arizona desert just south of Phoenix. It is a challenging facility, fully capable of producing record runs, as evidenced over the last few years. Each contestant knows that to succeed at this weekend's Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals, they will have to be at the very top of their game. CENTURY 21 Pro Stock pilot Tom Martino has shown the ability to conquer this track, reaching the final round here in his rookie season of 1996. He returns for this year's event fully prepared to improve upon that impressive performance.

"We had a couple of unexpected curves thrown at us a few weeks ago in Pomona, which undermined our efforts there," explained Martino. "We've learned from that experience, and have spent the last three weeks preparing for this event. We've been fortunate to run well here in the past, and this entire team is determined to show the CENTURY 21 Pro Stock Firebird is capable of winning here this weekend."

A quick review of events confirms the Martino team's resolve. Within moments of the conclusion of events in Pomona, their plan of attack for Phoenix was in motion. En route to the team headquarters in New Jersey, the transporter stopped in Illinois to leave their primary racecar at builder Rick Jones' shop. His assignment was to perform the necessary modifications as dictated by the NHRA's latest ruling and restore the CENTURY 21 Firebird to its pristine pre-California appearance.

In the meantime, Martino and crew chief Tom Kling flew back to the Garden State, where they immediately immersed themselves in working on the team's motors. First, they finalized the engines not yet used, completing assembly and checking them on the dynamometer. When the crew returned from the West Coast, the powerplants used in competitions were completely taken apart with each component carefully checked for wear and tear. Following a meticulous procedure to put them back together with new parts as necessary, their health and power level was also verified on the dyno.

The second CENTURY 21 Firebird, which had almost been pressed into duty in Pomona, received its share of attention as well. A thorough top to bottom inspection was conducted similar to that performed on the motors. Repairs and improvements were incorporated based of the experience of the initial runs. For example, among the changes made were modifications allowing for easier swapping of engines between the two Martino machines. Once this vital maintenance was completed, the team headed south to Darlington, South Carolina for an arduous three-day test session, aimed at obtaining additional baseline data, a necessary component of adjusting the set-up on raceday. The team will then return to New Jersey to replenish their supplies, check the car, and head to Firebird International Raceway.

But before Tom Martino even arrives in Arizona, the CENTURY 21 Racing program's presence will be felt in the desert. The Phoenix event marks the official kick-off of CENTURY 21's exciting " Drive It Home" promotion, where, among other prizes, one lucky person in Arizona will win a two-year lease on a new Pontiac Firebird. Starting on Saturday, an exact replica of the CENTURY 21 Pro Stock Firebird driven by Tom Martino will be on display in the Fiesta Mall. Throughout the week, consumers will be given the opportunity to make a donation to Easter Seals and enter to win a two-year lease on a 1999 Pontiac Firebird. Twenty-one (21) semi-finalists will be selected and asked to return to the Fiesta Mall on Thursday, February 25th to see if they are the Grand Prize winner. A live radio remote with KOOL-FM will announce the winner, and Tom Martino will be on- hand to assist with the drawing and to sign autographs. This is the first stop of the special event, multi-market Drive It Home tour.

"This is a very big weekend for the CENTURY 21 Racing program, and we're looking to have three winners," stated Martino. "First, we hope to collect a lot of money for the people at Easter Seals. Second, somebody will win a two-year lease on a brand- new Firebird at the mall on Thursday. Finally, we're hoping to complete the trifecta by putting the CENTURY 21 Firebird in the winner's circle on Sunday. The pieces of the puzzle are there -- it's just up to us to put it together, and I'm confident we can."

MARTNO MOMENTS: Tom Martino will be making a personal appearance on Thursday, February 25th from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Fiesta Mall, 1445 West Southern Avenue in Phoenix, where he will participate in the radio show and festivities which will determine the winner of the week-long CENTURY 21 "Drive It Home" contest..This will be Tom's fourth Pro Stock appearance at Firebird Raceway...Martino is looking to improve upon his runner-up finish from this event in 1996.

Fast Facts

WHAT: 15th annual Checkers Schucks & Kragen Nationals, the second event on the 22-race 1999 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series Schedule.

WHEN: February 25-28, 1999

WHERE: Firebird Raceway, Chandler, Arizona

SCHEDULE: Professional qualifying sessions start on Friday, February 26 with two sessions at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., and conclude on Saturday, February 27 with two rounds at 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, February 28.

TV: TNN will provide ninety minutes of tape-delayed final round coverage on Sunday, March 7 from 12 noon -- 1:30 p.m. (ET). As always, please check your local listings.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tom Martino