Topeka Top Fuel notebook

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761 WESTERN AUTO PARTS AMERICA NATIONALS TOP FUEL NOTEBOOK *Youth movement: Cristen Powell, 18, became the second-youngest winner of a professional title at an NHRA...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: NHRA Communications (818) 914-4761

WESTERN AUTO PARTS AMERICA NATIONALS TOP FUEL NOTEBOOK *Youth movement: Cristen Powell, 18, became the second-youngest winner of a professional title at an NHRA national event by winning the Mopar Parts Nationals on May 18 at Englishtown, N.J. Jeb Allen won the Top Fuel title at the same event in 1972 at 17. "This is wonderful," Powell said. "It's an amazing feeling. People always said winning was wonderful, and I underestimated it. Now I know how wonderful it is." *Graduation day: Cristen Powell will trade a racing uniform for a cap and gown during the Western Auto Parts America Nationals presented by Western Auto, skipping the event to attend her graduation ceremony at Jesuit High in Portland, Ore. Powell and the Royal Purple Motor Oil team are scheduled to return to the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series at the next event after Topeka, the Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing, June 12-15 at Columbus, Ohio. *Join the crowd: Cristen Powell is the sixth woman to win a pro title at an NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series national event. The others are Top Fuel drivers Shirley Muldowney, Lucille Lee, Lori Johns and Shelly Anderson, and Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Angelle Seeling. *Recipe for success: Gary Scelzi remains the only Top Fuel driver to win at least one round in all eight races this season. Scelzi, from Fresno, Calif., has advanced to at least the semifinals at every event in the Team Winston Dragster owned and tuned by Alan Johnson and leads the NHRA Winston point standings by 138 points over second-place Joe Amato. "When you sit back and look at eight semifinals and four final rounds in eight races, that's just awesome," Scelzi said. "It's pretty hot stuff. I'm not trying to think about that, to be honest. "Any of these guys could get on a roll, and our roll could be over. I don't want to jinx anything by focusing too much on the success we're having. We all know it could end at any time." *Proud Papa: NHRA Winston points leader Gary Scelzi became a father for the first time May 2 when his wife, Julie, gave birth to Dominic Michael Scelzi. Scelzi and his wife decided early in her pregnancy that if the baby was born during a race weekend, Scelzi would stay at the race. So Scelzi was racing at the Lone Star Nationals near Dallas when Julie Scelzi gave birth to Dominic at a hospital in Fresno, Calif. *Up and down: Joe Amato continued his trend of all-or-nothing performances this season with a first-round loss in the Keystone Automotive Warehouse Dragster at the Mopar Parts Nationals on May 18 at Englishtown, N.J. Amato, from Old Forge, Pa., has three victories and a runner-up finish in eight races this season. He lost in the first round at the other four races. *Quite the sensation: Shelly Anderson often has described the sensation of driving a Top Fuel dragster as similar to having a bowling ball thrust into your chest for nearly five seconds. Team Winston Dragster driver Gary Scelzi put his spin on the physical demands of driving a quarter-mile in 4.6 seconds. "I know it's a good run because it hurts me," Scelzi said. "The car just pushes you so far back into the seat that it actually hurts your tailbone. I'll deal with the pain anytime, though." The engine of a Top Fuel dragster generates between 5,500 and 6,000 horsepower, launching the car and driver from the starting line with a force five times that of gravity. That's the same force as the space shuttle leaving the launching pad at Cape Canaveral, Fla. Top Fuel dragsters accelerate from 0 to 100 mph in 0.9 seconds. *Moving up?: Federal-Mogul Dragster standout Keith Stark is considering a move to Top Fuel after his recovery from serious injuries suffered at the Mac Tools Gatornationals in March at Gainesville, Fla. Stark, from Danville, Ill., has recorded the quickest time and fastest speed in history in Federal-Mogul Dragster, 5.38 seconds at 270 mph. He suffered severe hand and arm injuries in the crash at Gainesville. "If we can secure enough sponsorship, I'll be back, in Top Fuel," Stark said. "I'm not going to be happy to be an also-ran. If I can't mix it up with the Bernsteins and Amatos and those guys, then I'm not interested." Stark plans to use the rest of 1997 to test and to heal the hand and arm injuries. *Comeback plans: Another racer injured at the Mac Tools Gatornationals, Top Fuel driver Marshall Topping, has targeted the U.S. Nationals in late August for his return to racing. Topping suffered multiple fractures and severe knee injuries in a crash at Gainesville. A new car is being built for the John Mitchell-owned team, and Topping said he will be in Topeka for this event, where former Federal- Mogul Dragster driver David Busby will drive for the team in last year's car. *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-

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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Series NHRA
Drivers Shirley Muldowney , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Shelly Anderson , Lori Johns , Cristen Powell