Topeka Funny Car notebook

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 WESTERN AUTO PARTS AMERICA NATIONALS FUNNY CAR NOTEBOOK *Handling the pressure: A driver faces no greater pressure than racing at an event sponsored by their team ...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761

WESTERN AUTO PARTS AMERICA NATIONALS FUNNY CAR NOTEBOOK *Handling the pressure: A driver faces no greater pressure than racing at an event sponsored by their team sponsor, but Randy Anderson has handled that stress quite well at the first four editions of the Western Auto Parts America Nationals. Anderson won the Top Alcohol Funny Car title from 1993- 1995 and was runner-up to Cy Chesterman last year. Western Auto has sponsored Anderson since 1995. "Obviously, this is the biggest race of the year for me," Anderson said. "I look forward to it. This has been a good race for me and an awfully good track. "But I also realize that this is a different car and a different year. To think this is my race, well, I could fall really easily." *Beating the odds: Randy Anderson can't choose a favorite between his victories over John Force at the Fram Nationals and the Lone Star Nationals, but he'll admit that his second straight win over six-time NHRA Winston champion Force was even more surprising than the first. "I was probably more overwhelmed by the second win, more shocked," Anderson said. "To go out and win two in a row, to beat John Force twice in a row, that doesn't happen very often. The odds of winning the second time were tremendous." Despite beating the odds against Force, Anderson hasn't headed to Las Vegas or bought lottery tickets lately to try his luck. "I don't gamble," Anderson said with a laugh. *Changes: Roland Leong replaced Tom Anderson in mid-May as crew chief of the Copenhagen Chevrolet Camaro owned by Don "The Snake" Prudhomme and driven by Ron Capps. Capps was 15th in the NHRA Winston point standings after seven events this season. Leong has fielded and tuned cars for Prudhomme many times since the mid-1960s. *Preparing to jump: Another former NHRA Winston Top Alcohol Funny Car champion is preparing to make the leap into Funny Car soon. Tony Bartone, 1996 NHRA Winston champion, could move into the nitromethane-powered Funny Cars as early as next season. Bartone, from Manhasset, N.Y., leads the Federal- Mogul Funny Car point standings this season. "Through my partnership with Roger Dean Racing, we are working daily on that move," Bartone said of his nitro plans. "I don't think it's a question of will we move up but rather a question of when we will move up." *Safety first: Cruz Pedregon admits that the fireball that engulfed his McDonald's Pontiac Firebird after winning the first round of the Pennzoil Nationals on April 27 was probably the worst blaze of his career, which started in 1992. But safety equipment played a major role in Pedregon walking away from the fire suffering only from minor smoke inhalation. "I have a helmet that is equipped with air that feeds into my helmet, I have two double socks on my head, I have double-layered gloves," Pedregon said. "I really feel about as safe as one can feel in a car like this. When it happened, it alarmed me, but not to the point of panic. I felt that I was prepared for that moment." *Honors for Cruz: Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon received a prestigious, national Hispanic award, the Premio De Oro, on May 13 in New York. Winners of the Premio De Oro, the only national award that recognizes Hispanic athletes, are selected by the New York Hispanic Press Association. Pedregon, driver of the McDonald's Pontiac Firebird, is the first motorsports category recipient of this award. Past Premio De Oro winners include former San Francisco Giants pitcher Juan Marichal, Seattle Mariners shortstop Alex Rodriguez and boxer Felix Trinidad. *Brute Force: If past history is any indication, John Force is the driver to beat at the Western Auto Parts America Nationals. Force has won this event in three of its four years, winning in 1993, 1994 and 1996. *Performance prediction: John Force recorded a four- second elapsed time on all eight of his passes last July at this event, an unprecedented feat by an NHRA Funny Car driver. The Funny Car winner at this year's Western Auto Parts America Nationals will need similar performance, Randy Anderson said. "I don't think there's any question that it's going to take four-second runs to win in eliminations, barring drastic weather changes," Anderson said. The NHRA speed national record could fall at this event for the second consecutive year, Anderson said. Cruz Pedregon set the record of 311.20 mph last July, since broken. But Anderson insists that he doesn't study the speed listing on his time slip nearly as much as elapsed time. "I tend to follow E.T.'s," Anderson said. "That's what wins races." *Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 3 p.m. May 30 and continues at 7 p.m. that evening. Qualifying ends with sessions at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. May 31. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. June 1. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 10 a.m. May 29. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the Western Auto Parts America Nationals presented by Slick 50. Call Heartland Park Topeka at (800) 43-RACES. Tickets also are available at Ticketmaster outlets throughout the Midwest. *On TV: The Nashville Network (TNN) will televise two and one-half hours of live, semifinal- and final-round competition from the Western Auto Parts America Nationals presented by Slick 50 at 3:30 p.m. (CDT) June 1. -30- 5/13/97-WA3-075

Jack Durbin indy500@freenet.tlh.fl.us Motorsport News International jackd@motorsport.com (Moderators for "rec.autos.sport.info") Homepage http://www.freenet.tlh.fl.us/users/indy500/index.html

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Bartone , Ron Capps , John Force , Cruz Pedregon , Tom Anderson