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Sat, Nov 14, 08:21 PM

POMONA - Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Final Session
By Larry Sullivan

It's a Quick, Fast Field

POMONA, Calif. - Notes from final, round 4 qualifying in Top Fuel at the 34th annual NHRA Winston Finals, listing lane, driver name, elapsed time/top speed this round, position in order following run, (best prior elapsed time/speed, and position in order prior to run):
Left Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 4.576/320.85 Now # 2, (Best prior run: 4.580/313.69 Was # 2)
Right Lane: Cory McClenathan Runs 4.646/300.60 Now # 7, (Best prior run: 4.714/303.03 Was #13)

2:06 PM The first two pairs are also running in the Big Bud Shootout. Cory Mac hurt the engine here, mixing the cylinders up at half track and then pushing a head gasket out at 1,000 feet. But he moved into the top half of the field with this pass.

Left Lane: Gary Scelzi Runs 8.820/ 92.29 Now # 1, (Best prior run: 4.548/323.85 Was # 1)
Right Lane: Eddie Hill Runs 4.636/313.69 Now # 3, (Best prior run: 4.600/315.12 Was # 3)

Scelzi was up in smoke before going 100 feet. Hill made a nice run, his Saturday luck holding just fine.

Left Lane: Cristen Powell Runs 5.462/174.89 Now # 4, (Best prior run: 4.615/305.70 Was # 4)
Right Lane: Bob Vandergriff Runs 5.252/183.71 Now #13, (Best prior run: 4.706/296.44 Was #13)

4:09 PM Now the non-Shootout competitors get their final qualifying chance. The bump is held by Don Lampus at 4.770.

Powell was on a stout pass, the car launching wheels-up and a car length ahead at half track - and then the engine let go in a big fireball. Vandergriff struggled through the first half of the run and then gave it up on the top end.

Left Lane: Bruce Sarver Runs 4.701/303.54 Now # 5, (Best prior run: 4.616/317.46 Was # 5)
Right Lane: Ray Stutz Runs 10.946/ 79.00 Now #21, (Best prior run: 9.819/ 88.08 Was #21)

Stutz pedaled two or three times and gave it up. Sarver was on a good pass, but the engine began eating itself at half track and he trailed a lot of engine smoke through the shutdown area.

Left Lane: Shelly Anderson Runs 5.486/174.92 Now #19, (Best prior run: 4.884/278.98 Was #19)
Right Lane: Bobby Baldwin Runs 5.736/164.53 Now #18, (Best prior run: 4.877/286.25 Was #18)

What we had here was side-by-side meltdowns, big fireballs from both engines at half track, the two cars still abalaze as they slowed in the shutdown area. Baldwin stopped and bailed out first, Shelly was a little slower to stop, but bailed out even quicker when the car finally came to a stop, looking back at the car in disgust. On the in-car replay, we see the force of the blast blowing Shelly's head forward violently as the flames suddenly surround her helmet, a frightening sight, and the views of the engine show empty space where the supercharger used to be, only the Kevlar air intake remaining to flop around uselessly.

Left Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 4.628/304.77 Now # 6, (Best prior run: 4.656/302.52 Was #10)
Right Lane: Allen Hartley Runs 10.911/ 83.18 Now #22, (Best prior run: 10.181/ 85.77 Was #22)

Herbert improves with a career-best ET on a nice, smooth, clean pass. Hartley's clutch problems continue, another tire-smoker.

Left Lane: Connie Kalitta Runs 4.868/242.78 Now #17, (Best prior run: 4.791/286.44 Was #17)
Right Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 11.238/ 65.41 Now #12, (Best prior run: 4.693/302.62 Was #12)

Kalitta looked like he had a shot at the field, but the header flames went out in a flash of flame at 1,000 feet. Schumacher went into an immediate power-wheelie, the front end four feet in the air before he caught it.

Left Lane: Spike Gorr Runs 4.970/261.32 Now #20, (Best prior run: 5.202/247.45 Was #20)
Right Lane: Jim Head Runs 4.690/294.31 Now #12, (Best prior run: 4.758/302.01 Was #15)

Gorr finally got into the fours, but at a cost, the header flames turning green and then a flash of flame as he neared the finish line.

4:44 PM and we take a break for the Big Bud Shootout final round.

Left Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 4.580/313.04 Now # 3, (Best prior run: 4.725/305.49 Was #15)
Right Lane: Kenny Bernstein Runs 4.636/315.01 Now # 8, (Best prior run: 4.650/313.58 Was # 9)

5:09 PM Both these guys would rather have run in the Shootout final and they almost duplicate the results there, two clean, strong, solid runs, Dixon vaulting from near the bottom of the field to near the top.

Left Lane: Joe Amato Runs 4.555/322.69 Now # 2, (Best prior run: 4.655/303.74 Was #11)
Right Lane: Mike Dunn Runs 4.587/320.97 Now # 5, (Best prior run: 4.637/310.77 Was # 9)

Another nice pair of runs, side-by-side 4.50s, shuffling the order for the final time.

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