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Amato Blasts to World Record Run, Wins NHRA Winston Finals at Pomona

11 November 1997

Joe Amato of Exeter, PA loves the Pomona, CA drag strip, and it showed on Sunday, as the three time NHRA Top Fuel champion pulled off a world record 4.568 et pass, 320 mph, to defeat Gary Scelzi and win the Winston finals.

Scelzi broke at the lights and only turned a 186 mph run, but he won the Big Bud shootout and also the national title over runner up Cory McClenathan with 1837 points to 1660 for the Anaheim Flash.

The Funny Car category was won by Tony Pedregon over team mate John Force, both driving Mustangs. Tony ran 308 mph to Force's 262 mph. Ped won the race and Force won the national championship. It's nice that Force let his partner Tony take the Pomona win and the prize loot. The move allowed Tony to take second spot in points over Whit Bazemore by a mere 6 points. First and second place for the Force team. That should keep sponsors happy for next year.

Pro Stock went to Kurt Johnson who beat Tom Martino with a 6.986 run, 197.10 mph, over Martino's 7.038, 195.99 mph.

Though she was never in contention, teen age wonder Christen Powell, Top Fuel driver, was the hit of the pits. She had as many autograph seekers at her pits as did Jovial John Force.


NHRA: TOP FIVE STANDINGS FOR 1997

Top Fuel
1  Gary Scelzi
2  Cory McClenathan
3  Joe Amato
4  Scott Kalitta
5  Kenny Benstein

Funny Car
1  John Force
2  Tony Pedregon
3  Whit Bazemore
4  Chuck Etchells
5  Ron Capps

       
Pro Stock
1  Jim Yates
2  Warren Johnson
3  Kurt Johnson
4  Bruce Allen
5  Steve Schmidt

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel