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Sun, 15 Oct 2006, 12:33 PM

Top Fuel Round 1 Eliminations
By Dan Bennett





DINWIDDIE, Va. - Results of round 1 eliminations in Top Fuel at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, Inaugural Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals:

 Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-----Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT----ET---Speed
    9 Cory McClenathan                        4 David Grubnic                
E1   ****WINNER****  0.060  4.592 311.63                     0.076  4.902 293.98
 Qualified:             #8  4.569 321.73                        #9  4.581 310.91
11:02 a.m. and it's an absolutely gorgeous day here at Virginia Motorsports Park. We expect to see some exceptional racing,and are looking to see the track record reset in this class since it's the only one still standing.

Weather conditions: air temperature 60 degrees, relative humidity 38 percent, barometer 30.13 inches, adjusted altitude -142 feet, track temperature 74 degrees.

Cory nears a milestone, as this is his 299th start. He won here at VMP in 1995, 1998, and 1999 and is 12-9 versus Grubnic.

It's all Cory on this one, as Grubnic starts to blaze the tires at half track. He pats the pedal once and gets the car to hook back up, but by that time it's way too late.


 Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-----Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT----ET---Speed
  507 Melanie Troxel                        497 Troy Buff                    
E1   ****WINNER****  0.081  4.560 308.07                     0.090 No Time      
 Qualified:             #7  4.567 290.19                       #10  4.586 311.49
Buff is Melanie's 33rd different opponent. This is her 61st start and she has raced from the seventh position seven times.

They leave together and it's a great race until about 500 feet when all the excitement started. Buff started spinning the tires hard, and when it hooked up the front wheels started skyward. He had to let off again and when the wheels came back to earth it unloaded the rear tires again. The car made a couple of lurid swerves and crossed the center line, nicking a timing block.

All those heroics didn't matter since Melanie gets the consistent pass the team has been looking for and makes a sweet run right across the stripe.

Melanie Troxel's incremental times: 60ft-0.851 sec., 330ft-2.161, 660ft-3.072/277.26mph, 1,000ft-3.850

The Safety Safari rolls for oil in Buff's lane. We're down for a short while.

11:07 a.m.


 Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-----Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT----ET---Speed
   91 Larry Dixon                           475 Steve Torrence               
E1   ****WINNER****  0.111  4.603 308.78                     0.091  6.163 140.69
 Qualified:             #6  4.557 314.75                       #11  4.593 315.93
11:24 a.m. and the track is ready. Lots of work went on in the right lane from about 700 feet to the finish line.

This is Torrence's first start in Top Fuel and he becomes the 76th different opponent that Dixon has faced. Dixon has a bit more experience on race day, having staged in first round 256 times.

Dixon waits quite a while after Torrence's and begins his when Torrence is almost back to the line.

He leaves on Dixon and is ahead until just before 330. He was keeping Dixon in sight but his day was over as he tossed the blower belt past half track and the car noses over.

Dixon probably isn't happy with that pass but isn't going to complain about the win.



 Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-----Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT----ET---Speed
  373 J.R. Todd                             141 Bobby Lagana Jr.             
E1   ****WINNER****  0.111  4.516 324.05                     0.086  5.662 160.98
 Qualified:             #2  4.528 318.39                       #15  4.645 305.01
J.R. is 19-12 this year and Lagana is the 13th different opponent he's faced. His #2 spot ties his best qualifying ever, and is his second time in that spot. Lagana has two round wins on Sunday, the last being at Englishtown in 2004. For Lagana, that was only 16 races ago since his funding doesn't allow him to run the entire tour.

Lagana got the hole shot and gave a great effort, but again we see the blower belt come flying off at 800 feet or so. It didn't matter much anyhow, because the rookie in the other lane was on a definite pass.

Todd blasts through and apparently has the top end traction thing figured out since he runs top speed of the event as yet.

J.R. Todd's incremental times: 60ft-0.834 sec., 330ft-2.144, 660ft-3.059/275.84mph, 1,000ft-3.834


 Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-----Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT----ET---Speed
    1 Tony Schumacher                        13 David Baca                   
E1                   0.100  5.869 150.58     ****WINNER****  0.115  4.700 270.64
 Qualified:             #1  4.512 313.37                       #16  4.661 291.82
Schumacher is perfect against Baca, winning each of the six times they've paired up. This is his 12th #1 qualifier which is the most for any driver in Top Fuel. Baca is racing for the 79th time and this is the third time he's started from the 16th position.

We were expecting to see the track record broken. Maybe it was - if the record involved upsets.

Schumacher started boiling the tires at 400 feet or so and pedaled the car two or three times. Baca was going right down the track this time and once again, slays the giant.

What a crushing blow to the Army car, and what an exciting thing for all of us to watch!


 Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-----Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT----ET---Speed
   10 Rod Fuller                              6 Doug Herbert                 
E1   ****WINNER****  0.129  4.582 310.05                     0.077 12.452  77.97
 Qualified:             #3  4.543 317.79                       #14  4.642 305.70
This is Fuller's 40th start and he is 3-2 versus Herbert. Doug now has 252 starts. It's the 17th time he's qualified in the 14th position.

It's over pretty quickly as Herbert boils the tires in the right lane and Fuller just goes about his business in the left.


 Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-----Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT----ET---Speed
    3 Doug Kalitta                          763 Hillary Will                 
E1   ****WINNER****  0.089  4.587 309.20                     0.135  4.599 304.74
 Qualified:             #4  4.549 309.56                       #13  4.634 307.72
Doug Kalitta has been dominant in TF for a long time. This is the 158th consecutive race he's qualified for, and as a measure of his stranglehold, the next closest current Top Fuel is Tony Schumacher at 82. Hillary is starting for the 21st straight time with eleven spots in the top ten. She's faced Kalitta twice and has yet to beat him.

What a drag race!

Anybody want to talk about team orders? I didn't think so.

This was one of those beautiful races with two cars streaking down the track just like it's supposed to be. Kalitta had an advantage off the line and then pulled more on the big end.

Doug Kalitta's incremental times: 60ft-0.856 sec., 330ft-2.165, 660ft-3.087/273.00mph, 1,000ft-3.877

Hillary Will's incremental times: 60ft-0.853 sec., 330ft-2.151, 660ft-3.083/269.94mph, 1,000ft-3.880


 Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-----Car#-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT----ET---Speed
    7 Brandon Bernstein                       5 Morgan Lucas                 
E1   ****WINNER****  0.098  4.562 315.05                     0.091  4.632 284.15
 Qualified:             #5  4.552 311.34                       #12  4.601 311.70
Bernstein has qualified at every one of the 75 races he has competed in. He's been in the fifth position 12 times, which is the most for any position for him. This is Lucas' 52nd start, and like Brandon, he has qualified for every race he's shown up for. Morgan is looking to even his record against Bernstein as it currently stands at 3 wins and 4 losses.

Another superb race! Lucas lost traction for a couple of quick puffs and that was all it took for Bernstein to drive by at the finish line.

The huge crowd here is getting about as good as it gets. According to our unofficial count, this moves Brandon into second place since Schumacher lost.

Brandon Bernstein's incremental margins (negative if behind): 60ft(-0.020), 330 ft(-0.011), 660ft(-0.003), 1,000ft(0.010). MOV: 0.0634 seconds (approximately 26 feet).

Brandon Bernstein's incremental times: 60ft-0.864 sec., 330ft-2.163, 660ft-3.082/273.05mph, 1,000ft-3.867
Morgan Lucas' incremental times: 60ft-0.851 sec., 330ft-2.159, 660ft-3.086/271.30mph, 1,000ft-3.884

Lucas ends up oiling the top end, so there's going to be a cleanup before Funny Car.

That's it for a great first round. I can't wait to see what's going to happen in Funny Car and Pro Stock.

Next round, Cory picks over Baca, Brandon has choice over Kalitta, Todd races Melanie and picks the lane, and Fuller chooses over Dixon.

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink




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