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NHRA: Winston Drag Racing Makes First Appearance in Chicago Area

22 May 1998

JOLIET, Ill. -- NHRA Winston Drag Racing will come to the Chicago area for the first time at the state-of-the-art Route 66 Raceway, site of the inaugural FRAM Route 66 Nationals, May 28-31. The $1.5- million race is the ninth of 22 events in the $30 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

It will be the first NHRA event to be held in a facility that features a stadium design. Grandstands on both sides of the track join the tower, surrounding the track and forming a horseshoe-like enclosure.

The race will be an important stop for drivers trying to improve their position in the Winston point standings. All five professional categories -- Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock Truck -- will compete at the event.

Cory McClenathan, driver of the McDonald's dragster is leading the charge in Top Fuel. The Anaheim, Calif. driver has won four races this season and reset the NHRA Top Fuel speed record at 322.92 mph. McClenathan holds the Winston points lead over Joe Amato, winner of the Castrol Lone Star Nationals and Mopar Parts Nationals . Other top contenders who would like to earn their first victory of the season at this event include Team Mopar's Mike Dunn, two-time runner-up Jim Head and defending Winston champion Gary Scelzi.

Seven-time NHRA Winston champion John Force, from Yorba Linda, Calif., is atop the standings in Funny Car, with four runner-up finishes and one victory. Two-time winners Ron Capps, Chuck Etchells and Cruz Pedregon are well in the hunt for the Winston championship.

Warren Johnson, of Duluth, Ga., holds a commanding lead in Pro Stock over defending Winston champion Jim Yates. Johnson has been virtually unstoppable this season in his GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird, winning on four occasions. Yates opened the season with a win, but has struggled to find the winning combination in his Splitfire/Peak Pontiac over the course of the last seven races. Mark Osborne, Kurt Johnson, Jeg Coughlin and Mike Edwards have all had early season success and are looking to increase their position in the Winston standings.

Trinidad, Colo.'s Matt Hines is leading the Pro Stock Motorcycle competition, winning the opening three events on his Eagle One Suzuki GSXR. Angelle Seeling, John Myers, and John Smith are Hines' primary competition.

Larry Kopp, from Baltimore, Md., has been grabbing headlines in the new Pro Stock Truck category, earning top qualifier honors at two events, winning twice and setting the elapsed time and speed records in his G-Force Transmissions Chevrolet S-10. Team Mopar's David Nickens won the opening event in his Dodge Dakota, and Chevy's Randy Daniels, John Lingenfelter and Jerry Haas have also been competitive. Roy Hill and Sondra Sikes are the top Ford Ranger drivers.