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Fri, 8 Sep 2000, 01:22 PM

Key Matchups Highlight NHRA'S Return to Rain-Delayed MATCO Tools Spring
Courtesy of NHRA Communications

At Old Bridge Township Raceway Park

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. - SuperNationals Several crucial first round matchups could play a key role in deciding intense Winston championship battles in several pro categories when NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series competition resumes Sept. 9 at the rain-delayed Matco Tools Spring SuperNationals presented by Racing Champions at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

NHRA officials postponed competition at the $2 million event in May due to unseasonably cold and rainy weather conditions. Competition is set to be completed in four professional categories when eliminations get underway Saturday at 2 p.m. Qualified teams will have the opportunity to test on Sept. 8 during two time trials, scheduled for 3 and 7 p.m. respectively.

Larry Dixon, currently third in the chase for the Winston Top Fuel championship, will lead the 15-car field into eliminations. Following a first round bye, the Miller Lite dragster driver will face the winner of the Steve Smith-Jim Bailey race. One of the key first-round matchups will feature second place Winston points contender Gary Scelzi, driver of the Team Winston dragster, against rival Kenny Bernstein, driver of the Bud King dragster. Defending Winston champion Tony Schumacher, the current points leader, will try to improve on his repeat championship when he squares off against Winston Rookie of the Year candidate Don Lampus in another important first round encounter.

U.S. Nationals winner Jim Epler will power his WWF Racing Camaro against Ron Capps' U.S. Tobacco Camaro in an all-Chevrolet grudge match to open Funny Car eliminations. In other vital first round pairings in the 6,000 horsepower category, Winston points leader John Force will battle journeyman Gary Densham, while championship challenger Jerry Toliver will take on Dale Creasy Jr. Should Force and Toliver advance to the second round, they will meet each other in what promises to be another thrilling duel between the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang and the WWF Racing Pontiac Firebird with championship implications on the line.

Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Kurt Johnson will kick-off Pro Stock eliminations in what may produce one of the most intense side-by-side battles of the season in the 200 mph category. Other key Pro Stock pairings include Warren Johnson's GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird against Allen Johnson's Amoco Dodge Avenger, while hometown favorite Tom Martino, from nearby Farmingdale, N.J., will drive his Century 21 Firebird in a first round affair against Splitfire/Peak Firebird driver Jim Yates.

Matt Hines will attempt to set the NHRA national speed record in Pro Stock Motorcycle in his first round meeting with Clarence Markham. Hines set a low qualifying time of 7.138 seconds on his Eagle One Suzuki and needs to record a time of at least 7.209 seconds (within one percent) to backup the record as required by NHRA rules. Hines currently holds the NHRA national elapsed time record for Pro Stock Motorcycle at 7.154 seconds. Meanwhile, defending event winner Angelle Seeling will look to increase her Winston points lead in the two-wheel category with a victory on her Team Winston Suzuki. She opens eliminations against No. 12 qualifier Chris Reuter.

SCHEDULE: Two pro category time trial sessions are scheduled for 3 and 7 p.m. on Sept. 8. Final eliminations start at 2 p.m. on Sept. 9.

TELEVISION: ESPN will televise two hours of eliminations coverage at 1 p.m. (ET) on Sept. 10.

TICKETS: Tickets are available for the rain-delayed Matco Tools Spring SuperNationals presented by Racing Champions. Contact Old Bridge Township Raceway Park at (732) 446-7800 or Ticketmaster for ticket information. Tickets purchased for Sunday, May 21 will be honored on Sept. 9 only.

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. -- First-round pairings for professional category eliminations for the rain-delayed 31st annual Matco Tools Spring SuperNationals presented by Racing Champions at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. The $2 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series event has been rescheduled for Sept. 9.

Top Fuel -- 1. Larry Dixon, 4.644 seconds, 311.70 mph vs. Bye; 2. Joe Amato, 4.680, 304.53 vs. 15. Bobby Lagana, 22.983, 51.08; 3. David Grubnic, 4.691, 298.40 vs. 14. Rit Pustari, 18.387, 44.91; 4. Tony Schumacher, 4.693, 320.36 vs. 13. Don Lampus, 16.303, 42.29; 5. Doug Herbert, 4.700, 292.46 vs. 12. Doug Kalitta, 13.360, 79.05; 6. Cory McClenathan, 4.715, 290.32 vs. 11. Rhonda Hartman-Smith, 11.572, 75.44; 7. Gary Scelzi, 4.797, 256.65 vs. 10. Kenny Bernstein, 10.985, 88.68; 8. Steve Smith, 5.218, 272.94 vs. 9. Jim Bailey, 9.375, 146.15.

Funny Car -- 1. Jim Epler, Chevy Camaro, 4.947, 308.14 vs. 16. Ron Capps, Camaro, 7.236, 264.96; 2. Jerry Toliver, Camaro, 4.974, 298.47 vs. 15. Dale Creasy Jr., Pontiac Firebird, 6.924, 256.80; 3. Dean Skuza, Dodge Avenger, 4.992, 301.20 vs. 14. Todd Paton, Firebird, 6.370, 290.69; 4. Whit Bazemore, Camaro, 5.045, 303.64 vs. 13. Cristen Powell, Firebird, 6.227, 162.37; 5. Cruz Pedregon, Firebird, 5.053, 295.27 vs. 12. Terry Haddock, Avenger, 6.018, 206.92; 6. Del Worsham, Firebird, 5.098, 274.83 vs. 11. Al Hofmann, Firebird, 5.278, 284.39; 7. John Force, Ford Mustang, 5.107, 299.80 vs. 10. Gary Densham, Firebird, 5.238, 291.13; 8. Scotty Cannon, Camaro, 5.133, 294.18 vs. 9. Frank Pedregon, Firebird, 5.193, 294.82.

Pro Stock -- 1. Jeg Coughlin, Oldsmobile Cutlass, 6.822, 200.68 vs. 16. Kurt Johnson, Chevy Camaro, 6.880, 201.01; 2. Richie Stevens, Pontiac Firebird, 6.840, 200.23 vs. 15. Bruce Allen, Firebird, 6.877, 200.80; 3. Mark Pawuk, Firebird, 6.841, 199.91 vs. 14. Hurley Blakeney, Ford Probe, 6.870, 199.82; 4. Troy Coughlin, Cutlass, 6.847, 200.41 vs. 13. Darrell Alderman, Dodge Avenger, 6.864, 199.52; 5. Warren Johnson, Firebird, 6.849, 201.76 vs. 12. Allen Johnson, Avenger, 6.862, 200.29; 6. Ron Krisher, Firebird, 6.851, 200.92 vs. 11. Greg Anderson, Firebird, 6.861, 201.70; 7. Brad Jeter, Firebird, 6.857, 200.38 vs. 10. Robert Patrick, Ford Mustang, 6.860, 200.44; 8. Jim Yates, Firebird, 6.859, 200.83 vs. 9. Tom Martino, Firebird, 6.860, 200.92.

Pro Stock Bike -- 1. Matt Hines, Suzuki, 7.138, 188.65 vs. 16. Clarence Markham, Suzuki, 7.420, 179.73; 2. David Schultz, Suzuki, 7.158, 192.06 vs. 15. Joe DeSantis, Suzuki, 7.400, 178.68; 3. Craig Treble, Suzuki, 7.178, 191.00 vs. 14. Mike Berry, Suzuki, 7.385, 182.38; 4. Antron Brown, Suzuki, 7.197, 185.79 vs. 13. Reggie Showers, Suzuki, 7.347, 181.98; 5. Angelle Seeling, Suzuki, 7.198, 183.15 vs. 12. Chris Reuter, Suzuki, 7.336, 179.16; 6. Tony Mullen, Suzuki, 7.213, 186.64 vs. 11. Blaine Hale, Kawasaki, 7.333, 180.72; 7. Geno Scali, Suzuki, 7.267, 184.77 vs. 10. Hector Arana, Suzuki, 7.311, 187.03; 8. Shawn Gann, Suzuki, 7.306, 186.43 vs. 9. Rob Short, Kawasaki, 7.310, 183.29.

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