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Sun, 1 Oct 2006, 11:39 AM

Top Fuel Round 1 Eliminations
By Rick Green





MOHNTON, Pa. - Results of round 1 eliminations in Top Fuel at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, 22nd annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals:

 Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-----Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT----ET---Speed
  373 J.R. Todd                               9 Cory McClenathan             
E1   ****WINNER****  0.065  4.595 316.01                     0.041 13.254  79.33
 Qualified:             #8  4.549 324.98                        #9  4.550 317.64
11:03 a.m. We're finally racing on a beautiful, cool and bright day,

JR Todd beat Cory the only other time they met in competition. This is McClenathan's 298th round on race day. He grabbed the Wally here in 1997

Weather conditions: air temperature 61 degrees, relative humidity 66 percent, barometer 29.65 inches, adjusted altitude 656 feet, track temperature 84 degrees.

Cory has a great reaction time but goes up in smoke immediately.

Todd's car is moving around big time but he manages to cross the finish line without touching the center line.


 Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-----Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT----ET---Speed
   12 Bob Vandergriff                       763 Hillary Will                 
E1                   0.033 10.958  86.09     ****WINNER****  0.075  4.597 316.97
 Qualified:             #7  4.547 323.50                       #10  4.560 322.19
Vandergriff was runner-up here in 2004 and faces the very steady Will, who has qualified for all 20 races this year.

Vandergriff also got into smoke almost exactly at the hit.

Will goes straight down the track on a nice run.


 Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-----Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT----ET---Speed
   91 Larry Dixon                           507 Melanie Troxel               
E1                   0.090 10.245  96.29     ****WINNER****  0.109  4.576 320.81
 Qualified:             #6  4.541 327.74                       #11  4.566 319.37
Though no one is really talking about it, this has to be a must win for the Troxel team.

Both cars shake the tires off the line. Melanie recovered on the way to 330 while Dixon's car deteriorated into smoke.

That's a big win for the Skull Shine car and is finally the performance that everyone has been waiting to re-appear,

Dixon has to be wondering. He has failed to qualify only 6 times in his career. In the next race after his DNQs, he lost the next race's first round 5 times. History repeats and this makes the 6th.


 Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-----Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT----ET---Speed
    7 Brandon Bernstein                      13 David Baca                   
E1   ****WINNER****  0.095  7.064 210.67                     0.020 10.033  78.17
 Qualified:             #4  4.528 325.69                       #13  4.674 312.28
The crew chiefs are making adjustments, noting that others have missed on the condition of the starting line.

It didn't help here. Both cars are into smoke early. Both drivers lift to try and get the tires to settle down.

Brandon pats the pedal literally 7 to 8 times and does a great job as the car isn't happy but is making it down the track.

Baca isn't as lucky. He gets wheelspin again when he comes back on the pedal and winds up looking like a sprint car as the fueler gets sideways, showing both sides before he lifts.


 Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-----Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT----ET---Speed
    1 Tony Schumacher                            Bye
E1   ****WINNER****  0.129  4.512 310.98     
 Qualified:             #1  4.440 327.27                     Bye
This is Schumacher's 33rd number one, and he's won the last three races here. He has 33 wins total and at this point in the championship chase desperately wants to add another one.

After he locked up the top qualifier and thus the bye run, he stressed how important is was to get a free run. Considerating the performance potential with today's conditions, he is elated to get a test shot to verify the tune up.

Well, that's the way to test, all right. The Sarge makes a strong pass and serves notice to his competition that he's going to be here late in the day.

Since it was a single, the engine could be clearly heard. It almost sounded as if it nosed over a bit right at the finish line, but may have hit the limiter.


 Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-----Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT----ET---Speed
    3 Doug Kalitta                          394 Luigi Novelli                
E1   ****WINNER****  0.072  4.543 325.53                     0.042  6.800 116.39
 Qualified:             #2  4.488 321.88                       #15  4.837 285.95
Kalitta has qualified in the second spot 33 times, the most of any starting position for him. He won this race in 2002 and, believe it or not, has a split record against Novelli. Their series stands 1-1. Much research was put into finding out if Uncle Connie ever ran Luigi, but nothing turned up. Woulda been a great stat, huh?

This was a pretty fair drag race until 700 or 800 feet. Novelli's front wheels started reaching for the sky again and didn't stop rising until he lifted. He was right there alongside Kalitta at that point.

Kalitta tosses the blower belt right before the finish loine but still cards a great number.


 Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-----Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT----ET---Speed
   10 Rod Fuller                              6 Doug Herbert                 
E1   ****WINNER****  0.088  4.582 328.46                     0.086  5.095 196.39
 Qualified:             #3  4.518 328.78                       #14  4.701 291.82
Fuller is 2-2 versus Herbert. This is Dougzilla's 251st start.

The cars leave together.

Herbert bounces the front tires a few times as the rear tires transition through a bit of shake off the line.

He was close to the streaking Fuller until a flash from the Herbert engine turned into a misfire which resulted in heavy smoke and a wounded engine at about 2/3 track.



 Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-----Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT----ET---Speed
    4 David Grubnic                           5 Morgan Lucas                 
E1   ****WINNER****  0.100  4.592 290.57                     0.102  4.625 310.55
 Qualified:             #5  4.533 326.95                       #12  4.662 299.26
Morgan and Grubnic have split their earlier races, each having 4 wins. Lucas has qualified for 51 consecutive races.

This was by far the best race of the round. The cars leave almost exactly together and move make strong surges toward half track.

It's really anybody's race until the very last few feet where Lucas's top end charge couldn't entirely make up for Grubnic's very slight lead.

In the second round, Schumacher has lane choice over Todd, Grubnic picks over Bernstein, Kallita selects over Will, and Fuller chooses over Troxel.

The weather's cool, the track is tight, it's going to be a spectacular second round. Be sure to stop back by,

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink




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