NHRA: Pennzoil's Sportsmen Ready for Indy Action
2 September 1998INDIANAPOLIS - In addition to its claim as the largest gathering of professional-class drivers in the world, this year's National Hot Rod Association U.S. Nationals, which take place from Sept. 2 to Sept. 7 at Indianapolis Raceway Park, will be home to the biggest pool of sportsman drivers in the history of the sport. As is always the case, Team Pennzoil will have top-notch representation in several categories.
Here's a quick rundown of the Pennzoil-sponsored sportsman drivers in attendance.
Mike Ferderer, the driver of the Pennzoil Super Gas Pontiac and the Gumout Super Comp Dragster, has three legitimate chances of winning in Indianapolis. In addition to chasing an event championship in each of his cars, Ferderer also has a chance at being named Car Craft Magazine's Super Gas Driver of the Year, an honor for which he has been named as a finalist.
"It would be the ultimate weekend," Ferderer said, "if I was named the Car Craft Driver of the Year and won the race in both classes. Gosh, just winning one of the three would make me happy. Indy is drag racing's biggest event. To do well there is a big deal."
Ferderer will be completely prepared when he arrives in Indianapolis. He has plans to spend the weekend prior to the U.S. Nationals competing in the World Nationals of the International Hot Rod Association in Norwalk, Ohio. "I had a small electronic problem in the Pontiac and transmission difficulty in the dragster, both of which I fixed," he said. "The race in Norwalk will give me a chance to work out any kinks before I get to Indy. I want to be as competitive as possible." Ferderer currently holds down the No. 8 spot in the national Super Gas rankings and the 31st position in the Super Comp standings.
Bill Kent, the driver of the Pennzoil Competition Dragster, will be slipping behind the wheel for the first time in seven weeks at Indianapolis. Despite the long lay-off and the extra large field of drivers anticipated for the event, Kent likes his chances to capture the Competition-class crown.
"I plan on winning the event," Kent said. "The last two times the car was on the track (in Douglas, Wyoming, and in Denver) we qualified in the No. 1 and No. 2 spots (respectively) on back-to-back weekends. The motor is fresh and we've even found some more power. Coming off two performances like that really boosts our confidence.
"We've always done well in Indy. I reached the quarterfinals last year and the year before that. I really love big events like this because it really gives you the best opportunity to shine. The NHRA already told us that they'll be qualifying 64 cars there and I'm expecting at least 130 cars in the field. I'm ready to start racing right now."
Kent is currently in 19th place nationally among Competition drivers and holds the No. 4 position in Division 4.
Amanda Harbin, the driver of the Pennzoil Super Comp Dragster, will break away from her freshman year at Arizona State University to return to the quarter-mile strip at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Harbin, 18, like her teammate Kent, has not raced in seven weeks.
"We take this summer break every year so I'm not concerned about the layoff," Harbin said. "I'll be ready to go in Indy. I'm super excited. This will be my first time in Indy. It would be amazing to win there. It's all anybody ever talks about."
Harbin is enjoying her best season as a professional driver. She has already recorded her best finish ever at Dallas' Lone Star Nationals in early May when she reached the semifinal round. "The car is definitely there," Harbin said. "It's been so consistent. The difference between winning and losing is all on me now."