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Fri, Nov 13, 02:40 PM

Winston Finals Open Under Sunny Skies
by Larry Sullivan

Forecast is for More of the Same

POMONA, Calif. - Good morning from Pomona Raceway, where the 34th annual NHRA Winston Finals are getting under way with almost perfect weather conditions. The local forecasters are predicting that the weather will be good through the weekend. However, the weather forecast on TV this morning was followed by a story about a fire in a Hollywood psychic advisor's storefront, so any predictions of the future around here should be taken with a grain of salt.

There are still five eliminator championships to be decided here, though three of the five are all but locked up. In Top Fuel, all Gary Scelzi needs to do to win his second Winston championship in Top Fuel is make a legal qualifying attempt, though at yesterday's press conference Cory McClenathan did caution Gary that "There is a second gunman on the grassy knoll."

Larry Kopp, like Scelzi, needs only to make a qualifying attempt to clinch the Winston title, Kopp heading for the stage Tuesday night in the inaugural season of Pro Stock Truck.

In Funny Car, John Force can lock Ron Capps out by qualifying and winning one round - and Force said yesterday, "I bought up all the wheelie bars in Southern California," a reference to Capps' recent wheelstanding antics.

In Comp Eliminator, Bob Andrews holds a seven-point lead over Santo Volpe, Volpe needing to win two rounds here to take the title away from Andrews.

The final title still up for grabs is in Stock Eliminator, where Jeff Hefler holds the lead and only Harvey Emmons III has a shot at taking it away. To do so, Emmons must advance to the semifinals.

Three titles were settled at last weekend's Division 7 final at Phoenix. Dan Fletcher snared the Super Stock title by winning the event, while Gary Stinnett took the Super Comp crown and Jimmy Lewis the Super Gas title when their closest pursuers fell by the wayside early in eliminations.

The other two Pro titles were never in doubt and were clinched before reaching Pomona - Warren Johnson in Pro Stock and Matt Hines in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

On the Sportsman side, Frank Manzo and Rick Santos are repeat champions in Federal-Mogul Funny Car and Dragster, respectively, also clinching their titles prior to Pomona.

Today's schedule is simple - Sportsman time trials and qualifying until 2 PM (PST), then one round of Pro qualifying (two for the trucks).

>From what we've seen so far, including a bunch of 5.50s in Federal-Mogul Dragster, the track is ready, so settle back and get ready to wrap up the 1998 drag racing season. Stop by here at Drag Race Central throughout the day and we'll keep you up to speed on what's happening.

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