Tom Hammonds Returns in Englishtown
MINNEAPOLIS, May 3, 2000: Tom Hammonds is experiencing bittersweet emotions today. While he finds himself facing the departure of his Minnesota Timberwolves from the NBA playoffs after last night's loss to the Portland Blazers in four ...
MINNEAPOLIS, May 3, 2000: Tom Hammonds is experiencing bittersweet emotions today. While he finds himself facing the departure of his Minnesota Timberwolves from the NBA playoffs after last night's loss to the Portland Blazers in four first-round games (3-1), he's eager to begin his 2000 NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series season as a result. Hammonds, power forward for the T'wolves, will return to NHRA drag racing in the Pro Stock class at the Matco Tools Spring Supernationals in Englishtown, N.J., on May 19-21. He will drive the Winnebago/GM Performance Parts Chevrolet Camaro Z28, with additional support from Chevrolet, Mac Tools and Kendall Oil. He'll compete at 13 events this year, with the Advance Auto Parts NHRA Nationals in Topeka, Kan., on Sept. 28-Oct. 1, his last race before the NBA starts up again. Competing at the Advance Auto Parts NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway this weekend was a possibility, but Hammonds felt he needed more time to prepare for his 2000 debut. Tom, 33, of Crestview, Fla., plans to spend several days next week testing at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., before he turns a wheel at Englishtown. "NHRA is like the NBA of drag racing," he says. "Without some kind of training camp program I would be in trouble. These cars are going so fast you have to be totally concentrating on what you are doing in order to avoid any kind of mishaps. I just need to totally clear my head for a good three to four days before I begin driving competitively." His only other outing following his limited 1999 season was a test session at Houston Raceway Park during the NBA All-Star break. With a full-time crew in place for the first time, Tom feels he can better concentrate on his driving. "Having a full-time crew gives me a lot more confidence and takes the pressure off me. In the past when the basketball season was over, I was running around like that proverbial chicken without a head to get everything done. There are only so many hours in the day. And the experience my guys have is invaluable in itself." His crew on the Camaro Z28 built by RJ Race cars and equipped with engines from KRJ (Ron Krisher) Ltd., includes NHRA veterans Donnie Gardner, Nick Ferri and Tim Roberts. "Losing to the Blazers is nothing to hang our heads about," Tom adds. "Record-wise they're the second best team in the whole league. But I'm also looking forward to going racing. I've got another two years left on my basketball contract. It's my full intention to totally drag race when this contract is over. It gives us enough time to further strengthen our program so that when I do finish playing basketball we'll be off and running." Tom's career-best elapsed time is 6.992 seconds, his career-bst speed is 197.54 mph. He has two round wins so far, and has not appeared in any final rounds. His NHRA career began in 1996. He's been an NBA player since 1989.
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