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Sun, 28 Sep 2003, 12:49 PM

Top Fuel Round 1 Eliminations
By Bob Orme

JOLIET, Ill. - Results of round 1 eliminations in Top Fuel at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, Third annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals:

    3 Tony Schumacher                       319 Scott Kalitta
E1   ****WINNER****  0.069  6.037 320.97                     0.061  6.576 159.76
 Qualified:             #8  4.555 320.97                        #9  4.573 319.52
11:04 AM Current weather conditions: 52 degrees, 81 percent relative humidity, the barometer 29.94 inches.

Schumacher has a 3-2 won-loss record over Kalitta in eliminations. This is the 10th time Schumacher has started from the 8th qualifying position. Kalitta is starting from the 9th qualifying position for the second time in a row, putting him in the first pair down the track for the second time in a row.

It looked like it was over at the start for Schumacher. He was up in smoke on the hit. He pedaled it, got the car hooked up and drove around Kalitta who began having traction troubles of his own at about 300 feet. Kalitta also lost the blower belt at about 1000 feet, adding to his problems.

   10 John Smith                            390 Shirley Muldowney
E1                   0.071  5.021 263.77     ****WINNER****  0.085  4.578 325.77
 Qualified:             #7  4.542 314.02                       #10  4.579 327.66
This is John Smith's 54th start. He lost to Muldowney in their single previous meeting in eliminations. Muldowney qualified with a career best elapsed time and speed.

These two were about even to half track. Smith started mixing up the cylinders as he approached the top end and Muldowney was able to drive around him. Muldowney lowers her career best elapsed time by .001 seconds.

  888 Jim Head                              337 Paul Romine
E1                   0.024  6.338 134.19     ****WINNER****  0.051  4.606 295.14
 Qualified:             #6  4.532 331.20                       #11  4.588 313.66
This is Romine's 53rd start. He has faced Head twice in eliminations, losing both times.

Head hazed the tires just before half track and he clicked it off. Romine was mixing up the cylinders on the top end and the engine blew up as he was going through the lights. We are down for some track clean up. 11:16 AM

  797 David Baca                              9 Rhonda Hartman-Smith
E1                   0.120  4.643 303.09     ****WINNER****  0.101  4.523 319.75
 Qualified:             #5  4.508 321.12                       #12  4.614 308.21
11:21 AM These two drivers have faced each other four times in eliminations and are split at two wins a piece. Baca dropped a cylinder at half track and he could only watch Hartman-Smith drive away. This is Rhonda's career best elapsed time.

    1 Larry Dixon                             6 Darrell Russell
E1   ****WINNER****  0.052  4.959 309.13                     0.059 11.294 114.41
 Qualified:             #4  4.507 332.10                       #13  4.621 320.81
Dixon has a 14-4 overall elimination round advantage over Russell. This is Russell's 66th consecutive start and his 3rd start from the 13th spot. Russell was up in smoke immediately. Dixon lost traction at about 200 feet, quickly pedaled through it and dropped a cylinder or two at about 1000 feet. He will give up lane choice to Hartman-Smith in round two.

    2 Kenny Bernstein                       757 David Grubnic
E1   ****WINNER****  0.074  4.539 329.10                     0.068  5.234 187.63
 Qualified:             #3  4.498 323.50                       #14  4.637 320.58
As of this writing, Bernstein still holds the National Record for Top Fuel elapsed time. His overall record against Grubnic in eliminations is 10-2. No problems at all on this pass for Bernstein. Grubnic overpowered the track at about 900 feet and his day was over. Bernstein will have lane choice over Romine in round two.

    5 Cory McClenathan                      394 Luigi Novelli
E1   ****WINNER****  0.110  4.541 323.74                     0.099  5.231 198.12
 Qualified:             #2  4.463 332.10                       #15  4.669 315.86
Novelli qualified with his career best elapsed time. He has faced McClenathan only once in eliminations, losing to McClenathan at Brainerd in 1998. This one was all McClenathan. Novelli was having engine problems on the top end, but Cory Mac was well ahead of him by then. Cory McClenathan's incremental margins: 60ft(0.042), 330 ft(0.113), 660ft(0.165), 1,000ft(0.325). MOV: 0.6796 seconds (more than 100 feet).

    4 Doug Kalitta                           72 Mike Strasburg
E1   ****WINNER****  0.061  4.516 331.53                     0.053  4.623 322.27
 Qualified:             #1  4.428 333.00                       #16  4.741 280.54
This is Mike Strasburg's 10th start. He has faced Kalitta twice in the past, both times from the 16th qualifying position, losing both times. Strasburg gave it his best shot, running career best numbers in both elapsed time and speed. Kalitta will have lane choice over Schumacher in round two.

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink

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