PITTSBURGH, June 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Joe Mezquita's latest dragster, the Natural Gasser III, is the first natural gas vehicle to win a national drag racing title with its stunning victory at the Fram Nationals at the new Route 66 Raceway near Chicago. In only its second competition, Natural Gasser III was the leading qualifier and swept through seven rounds of Super Comp competition, defeating a dragster driven by former World Champion Edmond Richardson in the finals on May 31. The National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) said 135,000 fans attended the four-day competition, the second-largest turnout in its history. "Anyone who had any doubts about the power of natural gas engines would have become a believer in Chicago," said Mezquita. "Natural Gasser III roared down the track with the best dragsters in its class in the nation. And won." Mezquita is a resident of East Sparta, Ohio, and works for the East Ohio Gas Company, a subsidiary of Consolidated Natural Gas Company (NYSE: CNG). Mezquita has pioneered natural gas engines for racing since 1987. Natural Gasser I was the first natural gas drag racing car, and won a divisional race in 1992. Natural Gasser II was the first fuel-injected dragster. Both Natural Gasser I and Natural Gasser II won the NHRA's prestigious Best Engineered Car Award. Natural Gasser III couldn't have gotten off to a faster start, both literally and figuratively. It was the No. 1 qualifier in its first two races -- the Mopar Parts Nationals in Englishtown, New Jersey, May 14-17, and the Fram Nationals, May 28-31 -- running a perfect 8.900 in the first round each time. In the Super Comp class, dragsters compete to run the quarter-mile as close as possible to 8.9 seconds. Natural Gasser III's next scheduled race is the Pontiac Excitement Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, June 11-14. Natural Gasser III has a 700-horsepower fuel-injected natural gas engine, similar to the one pioneered by Mezquita for Natural Gasser II. It races at speeds up to 170 miles per hour. "We changed the suspension system so Natural Gasser III could respond better to the power generated by our natural gas engine," Mezquita said. We are getting better traction and better control of our speed. The result is we can more accurately complete the quarter-mile course in the 8.9 seconds of elapsed time required for Super Comp dragsters." There are over 100,000 natural gas vehicles in the United States today, many of them fleet vehicles such as buses, trucks and vans, run by school districts, city transit systems, universities and large companies. Virtually all natural gas used in the United States is domestically produced, and natural gas vehicles have lower emissions of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and non-methane hydrocarbons than liquid fuels. Because they are cleaner burning, natural gas vehicles are easier to maintain. Consolidated Natural Gas Company (CNG) is one of the nation's largest producers, transporters, distributors and marketers of natural gas. The company's natural gas transmission and distribution operations serve customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, New York and other states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. CNG explores for and produces natural gas and oil in the United States and Canada, and makes selective investments abroad. CNG's recent news releases are available 24 hours a day on the Internet, by fax machine, or by voice recording. On the Internet, use CNG's web site: www.cng.com For faxing, call 1-800-758-5804 on a touch-tone phone and enter CNG's company extension, which is 203456. From a menu, you will then be able to select releases that will be faxed to you immediately without charge. For voice recordings, call 1-888-CNG-NEWS. This line is toll-free.
SOURCE Consolidated Natural Gas Company