A DETERMINED MARTINO RETURNS TO TOPEKA Farmingdale, New Jersey, October 15, 1998 - Two weeks ago, competitors at the NHRA's Parts America Nationals had to battle the weather, the racetrack and their opponents during the rain-abbreviated ...
A DETERMINED MARTINO RETURNS TO TOPEKA
Farmingdale, New Jersey, October 15, 1998 - Two weeks ago, competitors at the NHRA's Parts America Nationals had to battle the weather, the racetrack and their opponents during the rain-abbreviated qualifying sessions. In addition, unseasonably cool temperatures made one of the NHRA's top speedplants even faster, with records set in almost every division. Those quick enough to survive this initial test and qualify were then forced to wait as final eliminations were postponed due to severe weather. This weekend, sixteen racers from each of the professional categories return to Heartland Park Topeka for the conclusion of this event. Martino Racing/Jesel Valve Train Innovation Pro Stock Pontiac pilot Tom Martino is determined to make the trip pay off.
"Qualifying here two weeks ago was our first experience with this borrowed Firebird," explained Martino. "It was great right out of the box, but the extra experience we were able to get during the two-week delay can only help us during Saturday's final eliminations."
A quick review of Martino's recent runs supports his theory. Four of his past five passes have been under seven seconds, including his 6.960-second effort which earned Martino the fourth spot for this weekend's final eliminations. With his top speeds routinely exceeding 197 miles-per-hour, it is also evident that the Martino/Kling powerplants are producing the necessary power. However gaining these results has not come without the support from all team members. During the few days they have spent in New Jersey over the past fortnight, Martino and crew chief Tom Kling have virtually lived in the Jesel dynamometer room, rebuilding, repairing and testing engines. For example, immediately following the Memphis event, a rental truck was dispatched from Tennessee carrying two Martino race motors in need of attention, which would have to be in Topeka for use in the race car five days later. But there are no long faces or complaints, a testament to the team's resolve and commitment to a common goal - winning.
Once in Kansas there will be little time for socializing. First, a race motor will have to be installed in the red-and-white Firebird's engine bay, and a basic set-up dialed in based on the Martino crew's notes and evaluation of current track conditions. On Friday afternoon, there will be one session to allow teams to get an accurate picture of the surface they will be racing on the next day. The data collected here could be the key to success, so a full-power, productive run is essential. Then on Saturday, Martino will be matched against number 13 qualifier Mike Edwards in the first round. In addition to being an obstacle in Martino's path to the event title, Edwards currently stands ahead of New Jersey native in the season's points standings, and a round win would allow Martino to narrow the gap. Either way, the desired result is the same.
"With only one session to obtain track information, eliminations will be even tougher,' said Martino. "Besides, at a fast track like Topeka, you have to be on your game all day if you want to win rounds. We believe we are ready for the challenge, and have our sights set on celebrating with the Martino Racing/Jesel Valve Train Innovation Firebird in the winner's circle on Saturday night!"