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Sun, 10 Oct 1999, 02:51 PM

MEMPHIS - Top Fuel Dragster Round 1 Eliminations
By Larry Sullivan

A Surprise or Two



MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Results of round 1 eliminations in Top Fuel Dragster at the 12th annual AutoZone Nationals presented by Pennzoil:
  
 Qua-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-Rd-Qua-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed
   8 Terry Mullins       4.655 287.23  Q    9 Randy Parks         4.666 311.34
 *****WINNER***** 0.478  4.693 296.63  E1                  0.492  9.445  84.94
1:18 PM Finally we get down to business, under partly cloudy skies and warm temperatures. This is the first meeting between these two this year. Parks made two consistent runs during qualifying, Mullins stepped up on his second pass. Parks carried the front wheels about 100 feet, unloading the rear tires and going up in smoke, giving Mullins a free ride to round two.
  
 Qua-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-Rd-Qua-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed
   7 Kenny Bernstein     4.648 314.39  Q   10 Larry Dixon         4.676 311.85
 *****WINNER***** 0.490  4.573 306.53  E1                  0.527  4.700 295.72
This is the sixth time these two have raced each other this year. Dixon had the early edge, winning the first three, with Bernstein rebounding to win the last two. Make it even - Bernstein with a visible edge at the green light and then running away to hide while Dixon struggled to get down the track. Bernstein pushed out some gaskets in the lights, flashes of flame from the top of the engine, but his crew chief said, "We've got plenty more (engines) in the truck."
  
 Qua-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-Rd-Qua-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed
   5 Eddie Hill          4.616 311.27  Q   12 Cory McClenathan    4.698 303.37
 *****WINNER***** 0.493  4.614 311.13  E1                  0.466  4.756 263.87
This was a very close drag race, Cory Mac away first and Hill making up the deficit to run side-by-side to the 1,000-foot marker. But then Cory Mac's engine went away and Hill really picked up the pace to win by a margin of victory = 0.115 seconds (approximately 45 feet). Their head-to-head record this year is now 3-1 in favor of McClenathan.
  
 Qua-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-Rd-Qua-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed
  14 Jim Head            4.716 299.60  Q    3 Scott Kalitta       4.592 313.73
 *****WINNER***** 0.463  4.747 302.48  E1                  0.510 11.740  78.41
Kalitta lost traction almost immediately and Head evened their season record at 1-1 with an easy win, his car clean and straight to the finish line.
  
 Qua-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-Rd-Qua-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed
   4 Doug Kalitta        4.594 316.67  Q   13 Doug Herbert        4.715 308.57
                  0.489 10.973  82.61  E1 *****WINNER***** 0.469  4.727 304.60
These two met twice before in 1999, Herbert winning both times. Kalitta had the clear performance edge in qualifying, but Herbert came in riding a hot streak and "I'd rather be lucky..." Doug, like Scott, lit up the tires in the first 100 feet and Herbert advanced easily, unchallenged. However, he lost lane choice to Hill in round two.
  
 Qua-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-Rd-Qua-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed
   2 Tony Schumacher     4.591 316.75  Q   15 Mike Smith          4.722 309.34
 *****WINNER***** 0.497  4.651 312.93  E1                  0.526 12.623  72.19
On paper this first meeting between these two this year was a huge mismatch. Smith's team loaded it up too much and blew the tires away in the first few feet, Schumacher screaming away for an easy win, but losing lane choice to Bernstein in round two.
  
 Qua-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-Rd-Qua-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed
   1 David Grubnic       4.570 306.67  Q   16 Joe Amato           4.756 303.57
                  0.539  5.926 271.57  E1 *****WINNER***** 0.483  5.668 265.22
Seems strange to see Amato as the underdog in this matchup, but he was lucky to run quick enough out of the trailer to hang on to the bump spot this morning. Grubnic also made his best pass "out of the box," then also smoked the tires this morning. Both smoked the tires here, Grubnic earlier in the run than Amato and then both drivers pedaling it to get to the finish line. Grubnic appeared to give it up when he lost traction, then got back in it only after seeing Amato also lose traction further down the track. The margin of victory = 0.314 seconds (more than 100 feet), Amato losing lane choice to Mullins in round two.
  
 Qua-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed-Rd-Qua-Driver(Opp'nt)-RT-----ET---Speed
   6 Gary Scelzi         4.618 311.85  Q   11 Bob Vandergriff     4.688 299.60
                  0.684  4.639 306.67  E1 *****WINNER***** 0.507  4.681 302.28
These two have also met five times this year, Scelzi with the edge, 3-2. Vandergriff has been eating engines this weekend, but here he made Scelzi eat the tree, Vandergriff with a huge holeshot and a clean run to win by a margin of victory = 0.135 seconds (approximately 61 feet). That gives Vandergriff lane choice against Head in round two.




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