NHRA: Martino Sees Sonoma as Likely Site for a Win
24 July 1998Parsippany, New Jersey, - 1998 has proven to be a character builder for Pro Stock standout Tom Martino. After a successful sophomore season, in which he captured his first two career national event victories, won the Slick 50 Performance award (for most victories via a holeshot), and finished a career-best sixth in the Winston Championship points standings, Martino was faced with a series of major off season changes. First, he inked Six Flags Theme Parks as his new primary sponsor. Next, he replaced his trusty racecar from the last three years with a new model Firebird. Finally, in the most labor-intensive move, Martino started his own in-house engine program after two years of leasing powerplants. For most competitors an undertaking of this proportion would signal a long hard season, especially in Pro Stock, arguably the most competitive division in all of motorsports. But, true to character, Martino has spent every spare moment on his racing efforts. To this point in the season, he has been rewarded with a ninth place ranking in the Winston championship points race, with a final appearance at the Pennzoil Nationals in Richmond, Virginia already under his belt. Best of all, the pilot of the Six Flags Thrill Machine now feels ready to challenge for the event win on a weekly basis, starting with this weekend's Autolite Nationals at Sears Point Raceway.
"It's taken us a while to put all the pieces of the puzzle together," explained Martino. "But even in our developmental stages, we were able to qualify and gain elimination round wins. Now that we seem to have gotten a handle on what our Six Flags Thrill Machine Firebird wants, we can take full advantage of the power we have been able to make with our in-house motors. This team can be proud of what we've done so far."
But the ultra-competitive Martino is not nearly done. Including this weekend's event, there are ten opportunities to not only post a national event victory, but to gain positions in the standings, and the Six Flags Racing team is looking to do both. After last weekend's event in the hot, thin air outside Denver, the NHRA's best now convene just north of San Francisco in the middle of the California wine country. With cooler temperatures forecast for the weekend, competitors could be greeted by the best conditions they have seen in well over a month. But crews will have to contend with sea level altitude and a short concrete launch pad. For the Martino crew, this could represent their best chance to utilize their entire racing repertoire. Already acknowledged as one of the best drivers in the NHRA, having a fast mount beneath him could spell trouble for Martino's opponents. But, as usual, the reserved Martino would rather not speculate, preferring to handle things on the track.
"This Six Flags Racing team has certain goals we set at the start of the season, and I believe we are capable of achieving them," stated Martino. "Naturally, we would like win a few races, and move up in the points. But this division is a tough one, and you have to be just about perfect. Our goal is to consistently put ourselves in a position to challenge for the win, starting by qualifying in the top half of the field. If we do that, the wins and points will come. The way we see it, it's about time to put the Six Flags Thrill Machine where it belongs - the winner's circle!"
An estimated 85 percent of all Americans live within a day's drive of the 12 Six Flags parks at eight locations: Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor (Dallas/Ft. Worth); Six Flags Over Georgia (Atlanta); Six Flags at St. Louis; Six Flags Houston, which includes Six Flags AstroWorld and Six Flags WaterWorld; Six Flags Great Adventure and Six Flags Wild Animal Park (Jackson, NJ); Six Flags California, which include Six Flags Magic Mountain and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor (Los Angeles); Six Flags Great America (Chicago/Milwaukee); and Six Flags Fiesta Texas (San Antonio). The Six Flags Theme Parks World Wide Web site is located at (http:www.sixflags.com).