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Sun, 19 Nov 2000, 02:54 PM

Amato Says Farewell with 'Last Blast'
By Susan Wade





Joe Amato has a vision for the future.

Make that vision for the future.

After two laser surgeries this summer to repair torn retinas and facing the danger of further damage, the five-time NHRA Winston Top Fuel champion announced his retirement last Sunday in Pomona, Calif. Amato said he has spoken with potential sponsors and associate sponsors in an effort to field a Top Fuel team in 2001 with a driver to be determined.

Joe Amato

Amato, 56, originally had planned a "Last Blast" farewell tour, but that's what his first-round appearance in last weekend's Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona, Calif., turned out to be.

In a less-than-glamorous exit for a driver with such glorious NHRA career statistics, Amato lost to David Grubnic. "The Last Blast was just that," Amato said. "I went to pedal it, and we broke a rod. The car just shook the tires loose. We blew up the T-shirt money in one run."

The Moosic, Pa., resident had said before Sunday's opening ceremonies that he had hoped to reach his 100th career final round and go out in style in the Dynomax/Valvoline dragster. "I wanted to go out and do something decent. It (would have been) nice to score another win, but I'm not going to live or die on what happens today," he said. "I've got to look back on the last 20 years . . . even though as a driver you look at your last run."

Indeed, his numbers have been impressive.

He has made 320 Top Fuel starts, 55 as the No. 1 qualifier, and owns a record 52 Top Fuel victories. He earned series titles in 1984, 1988 and 1990-92 to become the only dragster pilot to claim three in a row. He also won six Budweiser Shootout Top Fuel crowns.

Amato leaves with the wheels in the air.

Amato has failed just five times in his 19-year career to qualify and just one time since 1983. He once put his dragster in a record 191 consecutive races (Gainesville 1983 through Atlanta 1995).

Doug Kalitta's first-round exit ensured Amato a fourth-place finish in the 2000 standings. That gave him a Winston Top-10 finish for 18 straight years.

With victories at Denver and Reading, he has won at least once in 16 of the 18 years he has competed in Top Fuel. Tony Schumacher owns the top five speeds in NHRA history, but Amato follows with the 326.67 he ran last April at Dallas. Amato said his heart fought the decision his mind knew was sensible and inevitable.

"Sometimes God works in funny ways," he said. "You got to send me more than one message. He had to come back and tap me on the shoulder.

"I remember calling (Don) Garlits up after my eyes went bad the first time, when I was kind of still in shock. He told me all the doctors he talked to all over the country told him he's got to get out of the car. But, hard-headed Italian that I am, I didn't want to believe that. Ten years ago, they told me I had to get out of the car when my neck was bad. I went and found a doctor who said, 'If you do these exercises, you can keep driving.' I wanted to convince myself that I could keep doing it, but the conditions I had to put myself under, opening the parachute late, isn't the right thing to do, for safety reasons. It's smart to get out of the car."

Amato had four tears in the retina of his right eye repaired, then underwent surgery to fix the same problem in his left eye. He bought himself some driving time by using a different parachute configuration, one which helps reduce the G-forces he would normally experience. He said he also has started braking before releasing the parachute. He said the Schumacher and Larry Dixon crashes in Memphis played no particular role in his decision to retire, but he said safety in general was a prime concern.

"At any point in time you're leaving yourself open for disaster. And the longer you leave the parachute undeployed, the longer you leave the window open. And that's not a good thing to be doing," Amato said. "I've even had some of the drivers comment to me that I'm crazy. You have to listen to your peers, and common sense has to prevail."

The decision to retire was difficult enough, said Amato, who finalized it Thursday, but living with the result might be harder at first.

"You always know in your mind when the time is right. Emotionally, it's hard . . . hard to give up that adrenalin rush," he said. "I'll wake up in the middle of the night and think about it. It's an emotional roller coaster. You just have to reach down inside . . . and be comfortable with the decision. Then it'll flow. It's on to the next part of my life."

He put on a brave front, saying of the future, "It'll be exciting. I'm the kind of guy whatever I get involved in, I go in with two feet and I work hard at it to have fun and make it successful. So I'm sure there'll be a lot of opportunities. I'm still young, I have my health, and thank God I don't have the responsibilities of the business I had at one time."

NHRA President Tom Compton said Amato might assume some "new roles" as a drag-racing ambassador. With tributes from NHRA founder Wally Parks and Valvoline president James J. O'Brien, Amato mused about the timing of his retirement. It comes in the same year as the death of cartoonist Charles Schulz, whose Snoopy and "Joe Cool" drawings Amato adopted as his mascot. "It kind of worked out that way -- Charles Schulz dying, Joe Cool and Snoopy retiring, and (with) the Last Blast I'm over with, too," he said.

Longtime crew chief Jimmy Prock announced weeks ago that he will tune the second Don Schumacher Racing Team dragster next year. But Amato indicated he'd like to keep the remainder of the team together, if possible. Amato's successor will run for Amato in the rain-delayed finish of the Budweiser Shootout in February.

Amato isn't much for reflection. But the Keystone Automotive Parts owner said, "I've been lucky to have two careers. Most people can't do that."

So he isn't territorial about his Top Fuel records. "(Gary) Scelzi will get my record (in Winston series championships). That's how life is. I'll be the first guy to congratulate him."

Then go out and beat Scelzi on the golf course. After all, he'll have a little more time to work on his swing.

A look at Joe Amato's career by the numbers…

Courtesty of Bob Frey

*  has made 323 starts in top fuel.
*  has raced against 110 different drivers and has a winning record against 90 of
them.
*  has competed in 789 rounds of Top Fuel racing and won 524 of them.
*  has qualified #1 -  55 times
*  has won 5 Winston Championships (1984, 1988, 1990, 1991 & 1992)
*  is the only driver to win 5 Top Fuel titles
*  has won more races in Top Fuel than any other driver (52)
*  has been to 99 final rounds in Top Fuel (52 wins and 47 runners-up)
*  has also been to 9 final rounds in the Alcohol Dragster and Pro Comp categories
   (1979-1981)
*  has won at least one race in 16 of the past 18 years.(1983-2000)
*  has finished in the Winston Top 10 for 19 consecutive years (every year that
    he has competed in Top Fuel)
*  has won the Budweiser Shootout for Top Fuel Dragsters 6 times.
*  won back-to-back races on 10 different occasions
*  qualified for a Top Fuel record 191 races in a row (Gainesville 1983-
Atlanta1995)
*  has won on 18 different race tracks and been to the final round at 22 tracks
*  has recorded his most wins, 6 each, at Brainerd, Denver and Englishtown
*  has only failed to qualify for 5 races during his career and only 3 since 1983

Other notes:
*  Driver who has beaten Joe Amato the most: Kenny Bernstein (18)
* Driver Joe has beaten the most: Jim Head (26)
* Driver he has raced the most: Kenny Bernstein (41).
   Next are Gary Ormsby & Gene Snow (35 times each)
* 43 of Joe's wins have come when he qualified in the top 4 spots.
   (#1 qualifying spot = 10 wins, #2 = 16 wins, #3 = 8 wins & #4 = 9 wins)

Joe Amato…Year-by-Year
 (Top Fuel Only)

1982			Qualified  & Result (by round and opponent)
Pomona		Did not compete
Gainesville		#15	Beat Mark Oswald, lost to Jim Bernard
Atlanta			DNQ (8 car field)
Baton Rouge		Did not compete
Columbus		#3	Beat Jody Smart, lost to Gene Snow (foul)
Sanair			#2	Beat Mark Oswald, lost to Connie Kalitta
Englishtown		#6	Beat Scott Kalitta, lost to Lucille Lee
Denver			Did not compete
Brainerd		#3	Beat Jack Ostrander, lost to Gary Beck
Indy			#12	Lost to Lucille Lee
Fremont         #3	Beat Scott Kalitta, lost to Gary Beck
Irvine (Finals) #10	Beat Mark Oswald, Shirley Muldowney, lost to Jim Bernard

Finished #6.

1983
Pomona	DNQ
Gainesville	#13	Lost to Richard Tharp
Atlanta  	#3	Lost to Connie Kalitta
Baton Rouge	#4	Lost to Gene Snow
Columbus	#11	Lost to Jody Smart
Sanair      #4	Beat Scott Kalitta, Gary Beck, Jody Smart (8 car field, his first national
event win in Top Fuel)
Englishtown	#2	Beat Butch Osmon, Scott Kalitta, Gene Snow, Jody Smart
Denver	Did not compete
Brainerd	#2	Beat Gary Ormsby, Shirley Muldowney, Doug Kerhulas
Indianapolis	#2	Beat Dwight Salisbury, Gene Snow, Richard Tharp lost to Gary Beck
Fremont 	#2	Lost to Gary Ormsby
Irvine (Finals)	#4	Beat Jody Smart, Ray Stutz, Gene Snow, lost to Shirley Muldowney

Finished #2 (behind Gary Beck)

1984
Pomona      #3	Beat Bill Carter, Chuck Haase, Don Garlits, lost to Gary Ormsby
Gainesville	#2	Beat Bill Carter, Don Garlits, Gary Ormsby and Gary Beck
		(First Top Fuel driver to go over 260 mph…260.11)
Atlanta 	#4	Beat Gary Read, Shirley Muldowney and Dick LaHaie
Baton Rouge	#2	Beat Danny Danell, lost to Gary Beck
Columbus	#2	Beat Dick LaHaie, Bob Simmons, Gary Ormsby, lost to Gary Beck
Sanair      #1	Lost to Connie Kalitta (First #1 qualifying spot of his TF career)
Englishtown	#1	Beat Danny Danell, Bob Simmons, bye, lost to Frank Bradley (Set
national record at 264.70)
Denver      #4	Beat Bruce Hagestad, Danny Danell, lost to Connie Kalitta
Brainerd	#2	Beat Danny Danell, Connie Kalitta, Gary Ormsby
Indianapolis #2	Beat Bill Mullins, lost to Gene Snow
Pomona (Finals) #1	Beat Gary Read, lost to Larry Minor

Winston Champion

1985
Pomona		#2	Beat Howard Haight, Connie Kalitta, Don Garlits and
	           Gary Ormsby.
Gainesville	#1	Beat Gary Beck, Grant Stoms, Bill Mullins and lost to Dick LaHaie
Atlanta     #2	Beat Darrell Gwynn, Gene Snow, lost to Don Garlits
Baton Rouge	#1	Beat Gene Snow, lost to Don Garlits
Columbus	#1	Beat Connie Kalitta, Gary Ormsby, lost to Gary Beck
Sanair      #1	Beat Gary Beck, lost to Don Garlits
Englishtown	#8	Beat Hank Endres, lost to Connie Kalitta
Denver      #7	Lost to Don Garlits
Brainerd	#3        Lost to Gary Ormsby
Indianapolis #1	Beat Gary Beck, Gene Snow, lost to Don Garlits
Maple Grove	#3	Beat Gene Snow, Gary Beck, lost to Don Garlits
Phoenix     #2	Beat Frank Bradley, Bill Mullins, lost to Gene Snow
Pomona      #4	Lost to Bill Mullin

Finished 2nd (Behind Don Garlits)

1986
Pomona      #3	Beat Chris Karamesines, Earl Whiting, lost to Connie Kalitta
Gainesville	#13	Beat Gene Snow, lost to Don Garlits
Atlanta     #1	Beat Connie Kalitta, lost to Gene Snow
Baton Rouge	#3	Beat Ray Stutz, lost to Gary Beck
Columbus	#6	Beat Richard Holcomb, Gene Snow, Ray Stutz, lost to Connie Kalitta (car
had no oil pressure on line in finals, shut off)
Sanair      #4	Beat Richard Holcomb, lost to Darrell Gwynn
Englishtown	#3	Beat Hank Endres, lost to Gary Beck
Denver      #9	Beat Darrell Gwynn, Dick LaHaie, lost to Eddie Hill
Brainerd	#12	Lost to Shirley Muldowney
Indianapolis	#4	Beat Shirley Muldowney, Ray Stutz, lost to Don Garlits
Maple Grove	#4	Beat Gene Snow, Earl Whiting, lost to Dick LaHaie
Dallas      #3	Lost to Earl Whiting
Phoenix     #3	Beat John Carey, Earl Whiting, lost to Darrell Gwynn
Pomona      #2	Beat Dan Pastorini, Gary Ormsby, Shirley Muldowney and lost to Darrell
Gwynn.

Finshed 4th

1987		
Pomona      #6	Beat Denver Schutz, Gene Snow, Darrell Gwynn, lost to Don Garlits
Gainesville	#4	Beat Hank Endres, Larry Sutton, Larry Minor, beat Darrell Gwynn.
(Wins the quickest side-by-side race to that time, 5.295 - 5.307 in final)
Atlanta     #2	Beat Gary Ormsby, Gene Snow, Earl Whiting and  lost to Darrell Gwynn.
(Set top speed at 279.24)
Baton Rouge	#1	Beat Frank Bradley, Darrell Gwynn, Eddie Hill and lost to Dick LaHaie
Columbus	#2	Beat Dan Pastorini, Michael Brotherton and lost to Gary Ormsby
Sanair      #2	Beat Glenn Mikres, Eddie Hill, Dan Pastorini, lost to Dick LaHaie.  (Set
top speed at 275.98)
Englishtown	#3	Beat Michael Brotherton, Dan Pastorini, Dick LaHaie, lost to Gary
Ormsby. (Set top speed at 275.98)
Denver      #2	Beat Eddie Hill, Gene Snow, Larry Minor, Frank Bradley.
Brainerd	#2	Lost to Gene Snow
Indianapolis	#2	Beat Larry Minor, Frank Bradley, Shirley Muldowney, Dick LaHaie.
(Makes first run over 280 mph at 282.13. Wins quickest side-by-side race ever in
final, 5.268 - 5.258.
Maple Grove	#1	Beat Larry Minor, Bye, lost to Gary Ormsby. (Set low elapsed time and
top speed at 5.118 & 280.98)
Dallas      #2	Lost to Jack Ostrander. (Set top speed at 287.72)
Phoenix     #1	Beat Ed Moore, Jack Ostrander, lost to Dick LaHaie.
Pomona      #3	Beat Dan Fitzgerald, Frank Bradley, lost to Dick LaHaie.

Finished 2nd (behind Dick LaHaie)

1988
Pomona	    #2	Beat Gary Ormsby, Jack Ostrander, Butch Blair, lost to Dick LaHaie
Gainesville	#10	Beat Darrell Gwynn, Gene Snow, Bobby Baldwin, lost to Eddie Hill
Atlanta	    #1	Beat Ray Stutz, Gene Snow, Darrell Gwynn, lost to Eddie Hill. (Set top
speed at 280.19)
Memphis	    #2	Beat Gene Snow, Richard Holcomb, lost to Dennis Forcelle. (Set top speed
at 278.29)
Baton Rouge	#2	Beat Richard Holcomb, Gary Ormsby, Frank Bradley, lost to Darrell
Gwynn.
Columbus	#1	Beat Frank Bradley, lost to Gary Ormsby. (Set top speed at 284.53)
Sanair	    #2	Lost to Jack Ostrander (Set top speed at 280.81)
Englishtown	#4	Beat John Carey, Gary Ormsby, Ray Stutz, Eddie Hill. (Set top speed
at 275.56)
Sonoma	    #3	Beat Ray Stutz, Eddie Hill, Gene Snow, Dick LaHaie.
Seattle	    #4	Lost to Glenn Mikres
Brainerd	#2	Beat Jack Ostrander, Ray Stutz, Shirley Muldowney, Darrell Gwynn. (Set
top speed at 276.92)
Indianapolis #5	Beat Jack Ostrander, Eddie Hill, Gary Ormsby, Gene Snow.
Maple Grove	 #1	Beat Gary Ormsby, Jim Head, lost to Dick LaHaie. (Set top speed at
284.00)
Houston	     #2	Beat Jim Head, Dick LaHaie, Connie Kalitta, lost to Eddie Hill. (Set top
speed at 287.35)
Phoenix      #3	Beat Dick LaHaie, Dennis Forcelle, lost to Eddie Hill
Pomona       #1	Beat Gary Ormsby, lost to Darrell Gwynn. (Set low elapsed time and top
speed at 5.016 - 284.90)

Winston Champion (2nd time)

1989
Pomona      #1	Lost to Frank (Set low elapsed time at 5.042)
Houston     #1	Beat Dick LaHaie, Jim Head, Frank Hawley, lost to Gary Ormsby (Set low
elapsed time at 4.996 & top speed at 289.66)
Gainesville	#1	Lost to Dennis Forcelle (Set low elapsed time at 5.058)
Atlanta     #8	Beat Shirley Muldowney, lost to Gary Ormsby
Memphis  	#4	Lost to Eddie Hill
Baton Rouge	#3	Lost to Gene Snow
Columbus	#7	Beat Pat Dakin, Lori Johns, Gary Ormsby and Hank Endres
Sanair  	#3	Beat Jim Head, Eddie Hill and lost to Dick LaHaie
Englishtown	#2	Lost to Dennis Forcelle
Denver  	#2	Beat Shirley Muldowney, Dennis Forcelle, Dick LaHaie and Gary Ormsby
Sonoma      #12	Beat Jack Ostrander, Eddie Hill, Jim Head, lost to Frank Bradley
Seattle     #1	Beat Eddie Hill, Michael Brotherton, Gary Ormsby, Dick LaHaie (Set low
elapsed time at 5.017)
Brainerd    #15	Beat Frank Bradley, Darrell Gwynn, Gene Snow and Shirley Muldowney
Indianapolis #4	Beat Frank Cook, Frank Bradley, lost to Dick LaHaie
Maple Grove  #5	Beat John Carey, Shirley Muldowney, Gary Ormsby and lost to Darrell
Gwynn
Topeka       #3	Beat Jim Head, Gary Ormsby, lost to Shirley Muldowney
Dallas       #3	Beat Gene Snow, Eddie Hill, lost to Gary Ormsby
Pomona       #6	Beat Earl Whiting, Frank Bradley, Tim Morgan and lost to Gary Ormsby

Finished 2nd (behind Gary Ormsby)

1990
Pomona	    #3	Lost to Don Prudhomme
Arizona	    #5	Beat Connie Kalitta, Frank Bradley, Gene Snow and Gary Ormsby. (Set top
speed at 288.92)
Houston	    #5	Beat Ken Koretsky, Leo Gastellum, lost to Gene Snow
Gainesville #3	Lost to Eddie Hill
Atlanta	    #1	Beat Leo Gastellum, Jim Head, Frank Bradley, and lost to Lori Johns. (Set
low elapsed time and top speed at 4.960 & 287.17)
Memphis	    #1	Beat Bye, Gene Snow, Kenny Bernstein, lost to Lori Johns. (Set low
elapsed time & top speed at 4.941 & 288.46)
Baton Rouge	#1	 Bye, lost to Gene Snow (Set low elapsed time at 5.037)
Columbus	#2	Beat Ken Koretsky, Frank Bradley, Dick LaHaie, lost to Frank Hawley
Sanair      #1	Beat Gene Snow, Frank Bradley, lost to Chris Karamesines
Englishtown	#1	Beat Jim Head, Kenny Bernstein, Frank Hawley, lost to Gary Ormsby
(Set low elapsed time at 4.955)
Denver      #3	Beat Connie Kalitta, Jim Head, Frank Hawley and Kenny Bernstein. (Set low
elapsed time at 5.102)
Sonoma      #2	Beat Craig Smith, lost to Chris Karamesines (foul)
Seattle     #2	Beat Craig Smith, Dick LaHaie, lost to Gary Ormsby
Brainerd    #1	Beat Don Prudhomme, Frank Hawley, Gary Ormsby and Frank Bradley. (Set
low elapsed time at 4.970)
Indianapolis #4	Beat Jim Head, Dick LaHaie, Lori Johns and Frank Hawley.
Maple Grove	#2	Beat Dan Pastorini, Chris Karamesines, lost to Gene Snow
Topeka       #3	Beat Chris Karamesines, Jim Head, Tommy Johnson, Jr., Dick LaHaie.
Dallas       #1	Beat Jack Ostrander, lost to Kenny Bernstein
Pomona       #3	Beat Wayne Bailey, Eddie Hill, Gene Snow and Gary Ormsby

Winston Champion (3rd time)

1991
Pomona	    #2	Beat Scott Kalitta, lost to Eddie Hill
Phoenix	    #2	Beat Frank Bradley, Tom McEwen, lost to Kenny Bernstein. (Set low elapsed
time at 4.964)
Houston	    #3	Lost to Jim Head
Gainesville	#2	Beat Pat Dakin, Frank Hawley, Kenny Bernstein, and Don Prudhomme.
(Set low elapsed time and a national record at 4.897)
Atlanta	    #1	Beat Jim Head, lost to Gene Snow (Set low elapsed time at 4.892)
Memphis	    #1	Beat Tommy Johnson, Jr, Eddie Hill and lost to Lori Johns (Set low
elapsed time and top speed at 5.006 & 286.07)
Columbus	#1	Beat Doug Herbert, Lori Johns, Dick LaHaie and lost to Don Prudhomme.
(Set low elapsed time and top speed at 4.990 & 286.44)
Sanair      #2	Beat Wayne Bailey, Bye, lost to Don Prudhomme
Englishtown	#2	Beat Doug Herbert, lost to Dick LaHaie
Denver	    #3	Beat Jimmy Nix, Frank Hawley, Eddie Hill and Tommy Johnson, Jr.
Sonoma	    #2	Beat Maurice Dupont, Dick LaHaie, Frank Hawley and Lori Johns (Set low
elapsed time at 4.932)
Seattle	    #1	Beat Doug Herbert, Dick LaHaie, Gordie Bonin and Tom McEwen. (Set low
elapsed time at 4.966)
Brainerd	#4	Beat Cruz Pedregon, Frank Hawley, Tommy Johnson, Jr., and lost to Kenny
Bernstein (Set low elapsed time at 4.996)
Indianapolis #1	Beat Scott Kalitta, lost to Kenny Bernstein (Set low elapsed time at
4.953)
Maple Grove	#3	Beat Maurice Dupont, Tom McEwen, Kenny Bernstein and lost to Don
Prudhomme  
Topeka  	#3	Beat Connie Kalitta, Jimmy Nix, Kenny Bernstein and lost to Pat Austin
Dallas  	#2	Lost to Maurice Dupont
Pomona  	#2	Beat Jimmy Nix, lost to Cory McClenathan

Winston Champion (4th time)

1992
Pomona  	#2	Beat Scott Kalitta, Doug Herbert, lost to Kenny Bernstein
Phoenix  	#4	Beat Scott Kalitta, lost to Doug Herbert
Houston  	#2	Beat Jim Head, Pat Austin, Bobby Baldwin and Kenny Bernstein.
Gainesville	#4	Lost to Mike Dunn
Atlanta     #4	Beat Jim Head, Dannielle DePorter, Ed McCulloch and lost to Don Prudhomme
Memphis     #5	Beat Dannielle DePorter, lost to Cory McClenathan
Columbus	#1	Beat Tommy Johnson, Jr., Michael Brotherton, lost to Don Prudhomme
Sanair      #6	Beat Jim Head, lost to Eddie Hill
Englishtown #4	Beat Michael Brotherton, Eddie Hill, Ed McCulloch and Cory
McClenathan
Denver      #5	Beat Dick LaHaie, lost to Cory McClenathan
Sonoma      #7	Beat Dick LaHaie, lost to Pat Austin
Seattle     #11	Beat Kenny Bernstein, lost to Eddie Hill
Brainerd	#6	Beat Tommy Johnson, Jr., Kenny Bernstein, Shelly Anderson and Eddie Hill
Indianapolis #13	Lost to Ed McCulloch
Maple Grove	#6	Beat Dannielle DePorter, lost to Eddie Hill
Topeka      #4	Beat Jim Head, Rance McDaniel, Doug Herbert and lost to Ed McCulloch.
Dallas      #2	Beat Dannielle DePorter, Rance McDaniel, lost to Ed McCulloch (Set top
speed at 298.90)
Pomona      #4	Beat Tony Pedregon, lost to Ed McCulloch

Winston Champion (5th time)	

1993
Pomona	    #4	Beat Jimmy Nix, Ed McCulloch, Tommy Johnson, Jr. and Kenny Bernstein
Phoenix	    #7	Beat Rance McDaniel, Scott Kalitta, lost to Eddie Hill
Houston	    #12	Beat Don Prudhomme, lost to Doug Herbert
Gainesville #15	Beat Doug Herbert, lost to Eddie Hill
Atlanta	    #6	Lost to John Andretti
Englishtown	#6	Lost to Michael Brotherton (Set top speed at 300.10)
Memphis	    #10	Beat Rance McDaniel, Doug Herbert, Cory McClenathan and Eddie Hill
Columbus    #11	Beat Jimmy Nix, lost to Doug Herbert
Topeka	    #4	Beat Pat Austin, Don Prudhomme, lost to Scott Kalitta (Set top speed at
295.66)
Denver	    #12	Lost to Rance McDaniel
Sonoma	    #7	Beat Andy Woods, lost to Ed McCulloch
Seattle	    #6	Lost to Tommy Johnson, Jr.
Brainerd	#15	Lost to Eddie Hill
Indianapolis #15	Lost to Scott Kalitta
Maple Grove	#14	Lost to Cory McClenathan
Topeka	    #15	Lost to Scott Kalitta
Dallas	    #11	Beat Cory McClenathan, lost to Scott Kalitta
Pomona	    #15	Lost to Kenny Bernstein

Finished 7th	

1994
Pomona	    #16	Beat Cory McClenathan, Mike Dunn, lost to Rance McDaniel (Set low elapsed
time at 4.751)
Phoenix	    #2	Beat Kenny Bernstein, Rance McDaniel, Pat Austin, lost to Cory
McClenathan
Houston	    #1	Beat Bob Vandergriff, Rance McDaniel, lost to Don Prudhomme
Gainesville #4	Lost to Pat Austin
Atlanta	    #6	Lost to Clayton Harris
Memphis	    #5	Beat Andy Woods, Mike Dunn, lost to Michael Brotherton
Englishtown #6	Beat Connie Kalitta, Dannielle DePorter, lost to Pat Austin
Columbus    #2	Beat Andy Woods, Dannielle DePorter, Connie Kalitta and lost to Scott
Kalitta
Topeka	    #8	Lost to Scott Kalitta
Denver	    #2	Beat Cory McClenathan, lost to Mike Dunn
Sonoma	    #4	Beat Jim Head, lost to Kenny Bernstein
Seattle	    #3	Beat Del Worsham, Connie Kalitta, Don Prudhomme and Scott Kalitta
Brainerd    #2	Beat Jim Head, Mike Dunn, lost to Don Prudhomme
Indianapolis #9	Lost to Scott Kalitta
Maple Grove	#11	Lost to Kenny Bernstein
Topeka	    #12	Lost to Blaine Johnson
Dallas	    #5	Lost to Scott Kalitta
Pomona	    #11	Lost to Tommy Johnson, Jr.

Finished 5th

1995
Pomona	    #4	Lost to Rhonda Hartman
Phoenix	    #4	Lost to Ron Capps
Houston	    #10	Beat Connie Kalitta, Scott Kalitta, lost to Mike Dunn
Gainesville #3	Beat Shelly Anderson, lost to Larry Dixon
Atlanta	    #12	Lost to Larry Dixon
Memphis	    DNQ
Virginia    #15	Lost to Blaine Johnson
Englishtown #9	Lost to Connie Kalitta
Columbus    #3	Lost to Connie Kalitta
Topeka	    #1	Lost to Andy Woods (Set low elapsed time and top speed at 4.758 & 309.17)
Denver	    #6	Beat Jim Head, lost to Blaine Johnson
Sonoma	    #6	Beat Connie Kalitta, lost to Cory McClenathan
Seattle	    #12	Beat Larry Dixon, lost to Scott Kalitta
Brainerd    #5	Beat Blaine Johnson, lost to Cory McClenathan
Indianapolis #8	Lost to Eddie Hill
Maple Grove #11	Lost to Tommy Johnson, Jr.
Topeka	    #11	Lost to Blaine Johnson
Dallas	    #8	Lost to Connie Kalitta (Set top speed at 310.02)
Pomona	    #4	Beat Mike Dunn, lost to Blaine Johnson (Set top speed at 312.50)

Finished 10th

199
Pomona	     #2	Beat Bob Vandergriff, lost to Tommy Johnson, Jr.
Arizona	     #2	Beat Bruce Sarver, lost to Larry Dixon (Set top speed at 311.95)
Gainesville  #9	Beat Shelly Anderson, lost to Blaine Johnson
Houston	     #5	Beat Dave Promnitz, Larry Dixon, Scott Kalitta and lost to Kenny
Bernstein (foul)
Atlanta	     DNQ
Virginia   	#4	Beat Andy Woods, lost to Shelly Anderson (Set top speed at 305.81)
Englishtown	#4	Beat Bob Vandergriff, Cory McClenathan, Scott Kalitta and Larry
Dixon. His 35th win to tie Don Garlits as the winningest TF driver.
Columbus	#4	Lost to Bruce Sarver
Memphis	    #3	Beat Jim Head, Cory McClenathan, Kenny Bernstein and lost to Mike Dunn
Topeka	    #2	Beat Bruce Sarver, Mike Dunn, lost to Kenny Bernstein
Denver	    #11	Lost to Cory McClenathan
Sonoma	    #4	Lost to Mike Dunn
Seattle	    #4	Lost to Andy Woods
Brainerd	#7	Lost to Bruce Sarver
Indianapolis #4	Beat Pat Dakin, lost to Mike Dunn
Maple Grove	#3	Beat Pat Dakin, Jim Head, lost to Connie Kalitta
Topeka	    #2	Beat Bruce Sarver, Cory McClenathan, lost to Jim Head
Dallas	    #7	Lost to Scott Kalitta
Pomona	    #2	Beat Bruce Sarver, Tony Schumacher, Jim Head and Scott Kalitta. (Set low
elapsed time at 4.620 and top speed at 315.01)

Finished 6th

1997
Pomona	     #3	Beat Dave Promnitz, Shelly Anderson, Kenny Bernstein and lost to Gary
Scelzi. (Set low elapsed time at 4.564, a national record)
Arizona	     #8	Lost to Tony Schumacher
Gainesville  #1	Beat Cristen Powell, Bob Vandergriff, Scott Kalitta and Mike Dunn.
(Set low elapsed time at 4.597 and set top speed at 316.12)
Houston      #1	Beat David Grubnic, Scott Kalitta, Gary Scelzi and Bob Vandergriff.  (Set
low elapsed time at 4.587 and set top speed at 317.57)
Atlanta	    #6	Lost to Jim Head
Virginia	#5	Lost to Paul Romine
Dallas	    #1	Beat David Grubnic, Shelly Anderson, Gary Scelzi and Larry Dixon. (Set low
elapsed time at 4.592 and set top speed at 316.56)
Englishtown #1	Lost to Doug Herbert. (Set low elapsed time at 4.596 and set top
speed at 316.78)
Topeka	    #1	Beat Doug Herbert, Rhonda Hartman, lost to Scott Kalitta. (Set low elapsed
time at 4.607)
Columbus	#1	Beat Doug Herbert, Larry Dixon and lost to Gary Scelzi. (Set low elapsed
time at 4.662 and set top speed at 311.85)
St. Louis	#2	Beat Larry Dixon, Shelly Anderson, Scott Kalitta and Gary Scelzi. (Set
top speed at 306.43)
Denver	    #2	Lost to Doug Herbert
Sonoma	    #2	Beat Shelly Anderson, Kenny Bernstein, lost to Cory McClenathan
Seattle	    #2	Beat Tim Gibson, lost to Eddie Hill
Brainerd    #1	Bye, lost to Bob Vandergriff. (Set low elapsed time at 4.562 and set top
speed at 317.57)
Indianapolis #1	Beat Pat Dakin, lost to Jim Head. (Set low elapsed time at 4.600 and
set top speed at 318.24, a national record.)
Maple Grove	#14	Beat Gary Scelzi, lost to Cory McClenathan
Topeka	    #1	Beat Tim Gibson, Shelly Anderson, Bruce Sarver and lost to Kenny
Bernstein. (Set low elapsed time at 4.616 and set top speed at 317.34)
Memphis	    #7	Lost to Shelly Anderson
Dallas	    #2	Beat Doug Foxworth, Bob Vandergriff, Gary Scelzi and lost to Cory
McClenathan.
Houston	    #2	Lost to Rhonda Hartman (Set top speed at 318.69)
Pomona	    #9	Beat Bruce Sarver, Tim Gibson, Jim Head and Gary Scelzi. (Set low elapsed
time at 4.558 and set top speed at 320.28)

Finished 3rd

1998
Pomona	     #11	Lost to Larry Dixon
Arizona	     #1	Beat Ron Smith, Mike Dunn, lost to Jim Head (Set low elapsed time at
4.570)
Gainesville  #3	Beat John Smith, lost to Bruce Sarver. (Set low elapsed time at
4.523, the quickest run in history to that point. Set top speed at 322.58)
Houston	#1	Beat Kenny Bernstein, lost to David Grubnic. (Set low elapsed time at
4.539, a national record.)
Atlanta	     #5	Beat Kenny Bernstein, lost to Cory McClenathan.
Virginia     #2	Beat Randy Parks, Doug Kalitta, Gary Scelzi and lost to Cory
McClenathan.
Dallas	     #1	Beat Vickie Fanning, Jim Head, Mike Dunn and Doug Kalitta. (Set top speed
at 318.47)
Englishtown  #2	Beat Jim Head, Doug Kalitta, Larry Dixon and Cory McClenathan. (Set
low elapsed time at 4.578 and set top speed at 232.50)
Chicago	#1	Beat Cristen Powell, lost to Kenny Bernstein. (Set low elapsed time at
4.554)
Columbus	#1	Beat Luigi Novelli, Mike Dunn, lost to Kenny Bernstein. (Set low elapsed
time at 4.572)
St. Louis	#15	Lost to Gary Scelzi
Denver      #2	Beat Mike Ranney, Bruce Sarver, Kenny Bernstein and lost to Cory
McClenathan.
Sonoma   	#2	Lost to Bruce Sarver
Seattle  	#5	Beat Tim Gibson, Gary Scelzi, Mike Dunn and Cory McClenathan.
Brainerd	#4	Beat Doug Herbert, Doug Kalitta, lost to Gary Scelzi
Indianapolis	#14	Lost to Cory McClenathan
Maple Grove	#6	Beat Larry Dixon, lost to Mike Dunn
Topeka  	#11	Lost to Kenny Bernstein
Memphis 	#3	Beat Steve Smith, Bruce Sarver, Tony Schumacher and Kenny Bernstein.
Dallas	    #4	Beat Connie Kalitta, Cory McClenathan, lost to Gary Scelzi
Houston 	#2	Lost to Tony Schumacher
Pomona	    #2	Beat Bob Vandergriff, lost to Kenny Bernstein.

Finished 3rd

1999
Pomona	    DNQ
Arizona   	#1	Beat Paul Romine, Cory McClenathan, Tony Schumacher and Kenny Bernstein.
Gainesville	#6	Lost to Bruce Sarver
Houston  	#3	Beat Connie Kalitta, lost to Doug Herbert. (Set top speed at 324.98)
Dallas      #3	Lost to Jim Head
Richmond	#10	Lost to Doug Kalitta
Atlanta  	#3	Beat Connie Kalitta, lost to Gary Scelzi
Englishtown	#3	Beat Randy Parks, Mike Dunn, Kenny Bernstein and Doug Herbert. (Set
top speed at 324.05)
Chicago  	#3	Lost to Randy Parks
Columbus	#7	Beat Eddie Hill, lost to Gary Scelzi
St. Louis	#2	Beat Allen Hartley, lost to Kenny Bernstein
Denver      #1	Beat Randy Parks, Jim Head, Larry Dixon and Doug Kalitta. (Set low elapsed
time at 4.584 and set top speed at 318.54)
Seattle	#1	Beat Robert Reehl, Tony Schumacher, Kenny Bernstein and Doug Kalitta.
(Set low elapsed time at 4.585)
Sonoma      #8	Beat Mike Dunn, lost to Bob Vandergriff.
Brainerd	#16	Lost to Gary Scelzi
Indianapolis #1	Lost to Andrew Cowin. (Set low elapsed time 4.529)
Maple Grove #10	Beat Doug Herbert, Tim Gibson, Scott Kalitta and Tony Schumacher.
Topeka	    #3	Beat Mike Smith, Kenny Bernstein, Gary Scelzi and lost to Doug Herbert.
Memphis	    #16	Beat David Grubnic, lost to Terry Mullins
Dallas	    #3	Beat Bob Vandergriff, lost to Doug Kalitta
Houston	    #6	Lost to Kenny Bernstein
Pomona      #5	Beat Tim Gibson, lost to Doug Kalitta

Finished 3rd

2000
Pomona	    #1	Beat David Grubnic, Doug Herbert, lost to Tony Schumacher
Arizona	    #2	Beat Jim Bailey, lost to Bob Vandergriff (Set top speed at 319.52)
Gainesville #4	Beat Bob Vandergriff, lost to Tony Schumacher
Las Vegas   #2	Beat Robert Reehl, David Grubnic, Cory McClenathan and lost to Kenny
Bernstein
Houston	    #5	Lost to Don Lampus
Virginia    #1	Beat Steve Smith, lost to Doug Herbert. (Set low elapsed time at 4.563)
Atlanta	    #3	Beat Jim Bailey, David Grubnic, lost to Gary Scelzi. (Set top speed at
318.24)
Dallas	    #2	Beat David Grubnic, Rhonda Hartman, lost to Larry Dixon.
Chicago	    #5	Lost to Don Lampus
Columbus    #4	Beat Bobby Baldwin, Larry Dixon, Gary Scelzi and lost to Tony
Schumacher.
St. Louis   #1	Lost to Rhonda Hartman. (Set low elapsed time at 4.602 and top speed at
317.42)
Denver      #2	Beat Gary Clapshaw, Bob Vandergriff, Cory McClenathan and Tony Schumacher.
Seattle     #7	Beat Don Lampus, lost to Doug Kalitta
Sonoma      #8	Lost to Tony Schumacher
Brainerd    #3	Beat Rhonda Hartman, lost to Bob Vandergriff
Indianapolis #7	Beat Tim Gibson, lost to Gary Clapshaw
Englishtown  #2	Beat Bobby Lagana, Jr., lost to Gary Scelzi
Maple Grove  #4	Beat Rhonda Hartman, Andrew Cowin, Bob Vandergriff and Gary Scelzi
Topeka	     #13	Beat Kenny Bernstein, lost to Cory McClenathan
Memphis	     #2	Beat Bruce Litton, lost to Larry Dixon
Houston	     #13	beat Gary Scelzi, David Grubnic and lost to Bobby Baldwin
Dallas	     #3	Lost to Mike Dunn
Pomona       #6	Lost to David Grubnic

Finished 4th

Joe Amato: Track by Track

Track			Wins		Runners-up

Atlanta           1            5
Baton Rouge       0            2
Brainerd          6            1
Columbus          1            6
Dallas            2            1
Denver            6            2
Englishtown       6            3
Gainesville       4            2
Houston           2            3
Indianapolis      3            1
Las Vegas         0            1
Maple Grove       2            3
Memphis           2            2
Orange County     0            1
Phoenix           2            1
Pomona*           5            6
Sanair            1            1
Seattle           5            0
Sonoma            2            1
St. Louis         1            0
Topeka            1            4
Virginia          0            1

* Pomona includes the Winternationals (2 wins, 4 runners-up) and the Winston Finals
(3 wins & 2 runners-up). Was also a runner-up at the 1983 Finals at Orange County.






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