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Sun, Nov 1, 05:15 PM

BAYTOWN - Top Fuel Round 1 Eliminations
By Larry Sullivan

Early Start, Great Racing

BAYTOWN, Texas - Results of round 1 eliminations in Top Fuel at the 2nd annual Matco Tools Supernationals:
   8 Bruce Sarver        4.634 304.25  Q   9 Doug Herbert        4.636 311.95
                  0.502  4.757 308.95 E1 *****WINNER***** 0.509  4.713 310.00

10:44 AM We're even a minute ahead of the accelerated schedule for today, NHRA officials starting fifteen minutes early in an attempt to get round one completed before the weather front gets here - the parachute jumper's plane was socked in just west of Dallas.

We open with a solid drag race, not much to choose between the reaction times and the cars welded together for the first 1,000 feet, where Herbert started edging ahead, winning by about 17 feet - less than a car length for these 25-foot long cars.

   7 Kenny Bernstein     4.603 313.15  Q  10 Mike Dunn           4.645 317.79
 *****WINNER***** 0.473  4.586 321.42 E1                  0.514  4.584 316.45

The points difference between these two is 38 points as they leave the starting line, and Bernstein gets his best run of the weekend, giving us the quickest side-by-side race in history. KB narrows the gap to 18 points behind Dunn in their battle for fourth in the Winston championship.

   4 Eddie Hill          4.574 313.91  Q  13 Bob Vandergriff     4.672 318.02
                  0.550  4.698 307.58 E1 *****WINNER***** 0.503  4.652 317.68

Another good drag race, but Vandergriff got the holeshot and then his car began pulling further ahead at half track. Hill's Pennzoil dragster left a bit of the sponsor's product at the starting line, so we're down for a quick cleanup.

   2 Joe Amato           4.565 318.02  Q  15 Tony Schumacher     4.761 285.53
                  0.546 12.417  85.79 E1 *****WINNER***** 0.459  4.707 321.54

The cleanup was quick, less than five minutes, and Amato showed his faith in the Safety Safari by sticking with the just-cleaned lane. It wasn't a factor, Amato losing traction immediately, an almost certain sign of a clutch malfunction. Schumacher didn't need a lot of help, running his best ET of the weekend and his best speed ever. He'll face Bernstein in round two, KB with lane choice.

   1 Gary Scelzi         4.549 322.23  Q  16 Allen Hartley       9.811  89.83
 *****WINNER***** 0.544  4.544 324.32 E1                  0.543  9.509  87.10

Hartley again goes about 100 feet before losing traction, but Scelzi had no problems at all, validating the Safety Safari cleanup by posting the fastest speed ever - and his 322.23 in qualifying is within 1 percent, so Scelzi takes the absolute speed record away from John Force. Scelzi faces Herbert in round two and has lane choice.

   3 Cory McClenathan    4.574 319.26  Q  14 Shelly Anderson     4.747 251.04
 *****WINNER***** 0.542  4.617 316.78 E1                  0.568  5.938 143.28

The Top Fuel title chase is down to two cars, Amato's loss taking him out of contention for the title. Cory Mac had to win here, especially after seeing Scelzi make a super pass right in front of him. There's a short delay, one of the cars leaving some oil in the shutdown area and needing a tow off the track.

   5 Larry Dixon         4.584 318.02  Q  12 Connie Kalitta      4.665 302.41
 *****WINNER***** 0.531  4.627 318.58 E1                  0.561  4.667 304.77

Dixon was lined up in the right lane, but after seeing Scelzi and Cory Mac make good runs on the left side, switched to the left lane. Another good drag race, Dixon ahead all the way, but Kalitta right there to 1,000 feet before Dixon moved out to a car length win. Dixon will have lane choice against Vandergriff in round two.

   6 Doug Kalitta        4.588 318.13  Q  11 Jim Head            4.650 313.15
                  0.550  8.106  95.27 E1 *****WINNER***** 0.491  4.857 287.44

The final pair was the first to have problems in both lanes. Kalitta lost traction before 100 feet, and Head's car started eating engine parts at half track, the header flames very uneven and changing colors from green to orange to blue and back again. Head will meet Cory Mac in round two and Head's wrestling partner will have lane choice.

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