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Fri, 3 Nov 2000, 07:38 AM

Professional Winston Point Standings Recap #4
By Mickey Schultz

The NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series returns to the Texas Motorplex this weekend to run the previously postponed O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec. At Houston, two more Winston championships were clinched - - Funny Car by John Force and Pro Stock Motorcycle by Angelle Seeling. That only leaves two professional categories - - Top Fuel and Pro Stock Truck - - up for grabs. For the latest in the point battles, read on.

FastNews Network will bring you up to date on the NHRA Winston point standings for the five professional classes - - Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock (Car), Pro Stock Truck, and Pro Stock Motorcycle - - as it stands going into the Dallas event, the next-to-last event on the 2000 schedule.

First, as always, let's recap how points are earned in the professional classes: There are 138 points available for the professional classes at each event - - 10 for making at least one qualifying run, a maximum of eight if you qualify number one, 100 for winning the event, and 20 points if you set and leave the event with an official NHRA elapsed time national record.

For Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock, that means, with two events remaining on the 2000 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series - - the rescheduled Dallas event (this weekend) and the season-ending race at the Pomona (Calif.) Raceway (November 9th through 12th) - - there are still 276 points available. To clinch their respective category* the point leader must leave the O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec in Dallas with a 139 point advantage over second place. * Of this group, Top Fuel is the only category still contending for the championship. The battle for number one in Funny Car and Pro Stock is over.

Pro Stock Trucks, which do not compete on the full national event schedule, have only two races left (the rescheduled Dallas event - - November 3rd and 4th - - and the season-ending race at the Pomona (Calif.) Raceway - - November 9th through 12th). That means, there are still 276 points available entering the Dallas rerun. To clinch the Winston championship for Pro Stock Truck , the point leader must leave the O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec with a 139 point advantage.

Pro Stock Motorcycles, which do not compete on the full national event schedule, have only one race left - - the season-ending race at the Pomona (Calif.) Raceway (November 9th through 12th). That means, there are currently 138 points up for grabs. But, that's immaterial to the championship, as Angelle Seeling clinched the title in Houston. Let's now review each of the five professional categories:

TOP FUEL: And then there were three - - Gary Scelzi, Tony Schumacher, and Larry Dixon are the only Top Fuel drivers that remain in this season's point battle. Joe Amato and Doug Kalitta, were mathematically eliminated at Houston. Schumacher and Dixon are holding on by a thread. Scelzi, with 1698 points, continues to holds the upper hand. He has a 161 point lead over Tony Schumacher entering this weekend's event in Dallas. Schumacher, who underwent surgery to repair a severely broken left leg incurred in a high-speed crash at Memphis, had been cleared to race at the just completed race in Houston. But after just one pass, decided that he was not physically able to drive. He made a tire-smoking qualifying pass of 11.995 seconds. Schumacher explained, "I felt great mentally and when I saw Scelzi run the 4.599 (seconds) right in front of me I could hear my heart beat, I was ready. Then when I went up in smoke on the run I did not feel like I could get my leg to react like it should. I am a professional and I am not willing to put any of my competitors in danger or myself. I plan on being around for a long time and contending for many more championships." As of now, Schumacher's status to compete at Dallas is day-to-day. Larry Dixon remained in third, 223 points behind Scelzi. Dixon, who also crashed at Memphis, in the final round, and underwent subsequent surgery on October 11th , did drive at Houston, losing in the opening round of eliminations. If Scelzi can maintain the status quo in points at Dallas he will leave the O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec as the Winston Top Fuel Champion. Fourth through 10th in the Top Fuel standings currently read like this: #4 Joe Amato (1352 points), #5 Doug Kalitta (1322), #6 Kenny Bernstein (1209), #7 Cory McClenathan (1125), #8 Bob Vandergriff, Jr. (947), #9 Doug Herbert (859), and #10 Don Lampus (786). Both David Grubnic (#11, with 777 points) and Rhonda Hartman-Smith (#12, with 701 points) have a chance at the top ten.

FUNNY CAR: We've already told you that John Force won the 2000 Winston Funny Car championship. In the last 11 years, Force has captured 10 Winston Funny Car championships, which ties him with Pro Stock great Bob Glidden for career championships. This year's title marks Force's eighth consecutive championship. In the last 11 years, Force only failed to win the championship in 1992, losing to Cruz Pedregon. Reflecting on winning his 10th Winston Funny Car championship, Force said, "Number 10 was important, but what we really have talked about is No. 11. This one was tough. Toliver gave us a run early and then Capps came on at the end of the season like we thought he would. Fortunately, we were able to beat some good teams out there but it looks like there'll be even more of them to fight for the championship next year." At Houston, only Ron Capps and Jerry Toliver remained mathematically alive in an effort to prevent Force from taking his 10th title. Force, in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, "body slammed" the WWF Funny Car of Toliver, then pinned the U.S. Tobacco flopper of Capps. Capps, who moved into second at Memphis, was mathematically eliminated from contention when he lost to Bob Gilbertson in the second round. Toliver, who led the Funny Car points for the first seven events of the season, lost one round earlier, also to Gilbertson. With two races remaining, Capps, with 1420 points, Toliver, with 1385 points, and Tony Pedregon, with 1314 points, will battle for second, third and fourth. Jim Epler, with 1178 points, Whit Bazemore, with 1023 points, and Scotty Cannon, with 1008 points, will contest for the fifth, sixth and seventh positions. Behind those seven, it's a three-way battle for eighth, ninth, and 10th. Del Worsham is in seventh, with 947 points, Bruce Sarver next, with 909 points and Dean Skuza follows, with 906 points.

PRO STOCK (CAR): Jeg Coughlin, Jr., took the Winston Pro Stock Championship at the AutoZone Nationals presented by Pennzoil in Memphis, so this one has been over. With a first round loss at Houston, Jeggie can no longer tie the NHRA all-time single-season win record of 13, held by Funny Car driver John Force. But, he still has the opportunity to reset (or tie) Darrell Alderman's single-season Pro Stock win record of 11. Coughlin, currently has 10 wins, with two chances remaining. The battle for second, third and fourth continues with Kurt Johnson (1373 points), Warren Johnson (1354 points), and Ron Krisher (1324 points) battling for the runner up spot. Mark Pawuk, in fifth, in his Summit Racing Pontiac, holds a slim 45 point lead over Troy Coughlin and a 73 point margin over Richie Stevens in the battle for fifth, six and seventh. Finally, Bruce Allen, Tom Martino, Rickie Smith and Allen Johnson are vying for the final spot in the top ten. Allen, with 778 points, holds onto 10th and leads Martino by a single point. Smith sits just 84 points behind Allen; while Allen Johnson is 120 points in arrears of 10th.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: As noted above, Team Winstonís Angelle Seeling clinched the Winston championship at Houston. Said Seeling on the championship, "This is so unbelievable. The Winston championship is ours finally. I think I busted our team manager's eardrums and broke his jaw during our celebration. He'll be o.k. because the championship is a good cure for all that. I'm just so proud of this entire Team Winston bunch and I can't thank my owner, George Bryce, enough for the last five years." The only battle left is for third on back, as Matt Hines has all but nailed down second. David Schultz, who continues to undergo chemotherapy as he battles colon cancer, made a surprising return to the seat of his Sunoco-backed, Hayabusa-bodied Suzuki by winning at Houston. Schultz's victory placed him in a three-way race for third, fourth and fifth in the points along with Tony Mullen and Antron Brown. Mullen holds down third and has amassed 936 Winston points. Brown is 45 points behind Mullen in fourth and Schultz is fifth, 111 points behind Mullen and 54 points behind Brown. In other bike races, Reggie Showers continues to push Steve Johnson for 10th and is currently one point behind Johnson. Both Johnson and Showers will be pushing it to the limits at Pomona.

PRO STOCK TRUCK: The Pro Stock Trucks didn't compete at Houston so nothing has changed. Only two drivers - - Bob Panella, Jr. and Randy Daniels - - both in Chevy S-10s - - have a chance at this year's title. The rest of the field is vying for third on back. Daniels, who trails Panella by 230 points, must make a BIG move at Dallas or Panella will wrap it up there. Our money is on Panella to clinch at Dallas.

That's it for now, set your modem for Wednesday, November 8 and Recap #5 (prior to the final event of the 2000 season).

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