For east coast drag racers and fans, the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals presented by NAPAFilters.com represents a pilgrimage of sorts, providing a getaway from the deep freeze most of them have been under for the last four months. For Mark Martino and his DeSantis Crane Service Pro Stock team the anticipation of a new season is that much higher provided this will be their first event of the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season, which rolls into Florida with two events already in the books.
Just because this is the team’s first event of 2012 doesn’t mean they come in to it unprepared though. An early season test session at Bradenton Motorsports Park in January, with several other high profile teams in attendance, yielded numbers that were not only competitive, but provided a great deal of optimism for the family owned and operated team. “We had a very consistent race car in testing and our time slips were representative of where we should be compared to the sponsored teams that were testing with us that week.” Stated Martino.
Martino and the rest of the team intend to run 10 NHRA Full Throttle Series events in 2012, sticking to the east coast tour stops as a way to keep the budget in check and allow them to be as competitive as possible each time they pull to the starting line. “We’ve got a great engine program that is going to keep us in the hunt at every event we attend.” Said Martino.
The goal of course is to run all 23 events, starting with the Winternationals to kick off the 2013 season, and to that end the team has committed a significant portion of its resources in 2012 to securing sponsorship. “It takes great people with the right skill sets to make our Pro Stocker go down the track perfectly every time and attracting and maintaining sponsorship is no different.” Mentioned Martino. “That’s why we’ve stepped up our efforts and hired the right people to make sure we’re not only doing our best on the track for our sponsors, but also going the extra mile when it comes to the things that matter most to them.”
The Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals presented by NAPAFilters.com takes place this weekend, March 8 – 11, at Auto Plus Raceway in Gainesville, Florida. For more information about the event visit www.nhra.com.
ABOUT MARK MARTINO:The third year pro has achieved great things competing on a limited basis in the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, including a clutch performance on his sports biggest stage at the 2011 Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, where he qualified for the 16 car Pro Stock field, besting 13 other competitors, including six-time NHRA World Champion Warren Johnson and multi-time national event winner Larry Morgan, for one of the highly coveted spots.
From Jory Elliott