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Fri, 29 Oct 1999, 11:16 PM

Dunn, Force, Martino, and Hines Leaders after Day One of Qualifying
Courtesy of NHRA Communications

BAYTOWN, Texas - Matt Hines made the quickest Pro Stock Motorcycle run in NHRA history Friday at the Third annual Matco Tools Supernationals presented by Racing Champions.

Mike Dunn, John Force, and Tom Martino also led their respective categories at the $1.7 million race at Houston Raceway Park. The event is the 21st of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

Hines, from Trinidad, Colo., sped down the quarter-mile in 7.179 seconds at 186.10 mph to lead qualifying in the two-wheel category. He needs to make a run of 7.250 or better this weekend to be within the required one-percent to establish a national record.

"We weren't even trying to set a record on that pass," said Hines. "We're just trying to make the bike work better...I'm not really worried about backing (the run) up. We should be able to run a twenty-five with a zero no problem. The biggest thing is we're trying to win the next two races and hopefully that will happen."

Dunn, from Wrightsville, Pa., trying to regain his early-season form set the pace for Top Fuel competitors with his run of 4.561 at 319.60 after losing traction on his first qualifying pass. "The first run was strictly driver error," said Dunn. "I was too conservative. I thought I felt something the first time out and I yanked on the brake and it shook the tires. Then we decided to have me go out there and have me do my normal deal. We tried to the leave the second run the same as our morning run and just have me drive the car right this time." The reigning NHRA Winston champion John Force, from Yorba Linda, Calif., once again led the Funny Car field in the early round as he covered the distance in 4.811 at 321.12.

"The air is really good right now," said Force. "We are focused on (teammate) Tony (Pedregon) right now. We want my hot rod to stay in the hunt and take out some guys for him so he can finish second in the points. They put some new clutch discs in my car which makes me nervous because new stuff comes out. (Crew chief Austin) Coil said the car could have run a 75 and I asked why it didn't and he said it was because I'm a chicken." Farmingdale, N.J.'s, Tom Martino is on top after the first round of Pro Stock qualifying with his pass of 6.892 at 199.88.

"I don't know why our cars like it here so much," said Martino. "Last year we were runner-up and the year before we won with my other vehicle. Whatever it is, I like it. We tested this past week and we felt really good about the things we learned. I just hope I'm on top tomorrow."

Qualifying continues tomorrow for Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle competitors at 11:15 a.m. and 4 p.m.

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