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Fri, 22 Oct 1999, 06:02 PM

DALLAS - Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Session #1
By Ed Dykes

Saving the Best for Last

ENNIS, Texas - Notes from round 1 qualifying in Top Fuel at the 14th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec listing lane, driver name, elapsed time, top speed, and position in order following run:
Left Lane: Doug Foxworth Runs 10.041/88.53, Now #1

Rick Cassel is in Foxworth's camp this weekend, no word as to whether this arrangement is long-term or short-term, tho.

Right Lane: Rhonda Hartman Runs 11.381/59.05, Now #2

Hartman's run was very similar to Foxworth's, lots of tire smoke from about 50' on. From the top end, we hear that a fuel line came off and sprayed the tires, and that's what caused the loss of traction.

Left Lane: Mike Smith Runs 4.784/307.48, Now #2
Right Lane: Don Lampus Runs 4.778/309.27, Now #1

Smith is once again driving Ralph White's car, the body panels still carrying the Reebok colors from when Cristen Powell drove it last year.

Lampus clinched the IHRA championship last weekend in Shreveport and is looking to build on that success here.

Left Lane: Tim Gibson Runs 11.728/81.95, Now #6
Right Lane: Terry Mullins Runs 4.784/297.61, Now #3

Mullins is fresh off his best-ever outing in Top Fuel, an impressive semifinal at Memphis. Credit Dave Settles and crew, they've really got their act together. Tire smoke for Gibson, here.

Left Lane: Scott Kalitta Runs 6.930/125.64, Now #4
Right Lane: David Grubnic Runs 11.028/80.67, Now #6

There's been lots going on in the Kalitta camp since we last met, with Ace McCulloch resigning from the team and now Connie making the tuning calls for both cars. Also, Doug and Scott have swapped cars, as the team feels that Scott's car is more consistent and given the fact that Doug is right in the midst of the points battle they wanted to give him the best equipment. Here, Scott was up in smoke by the 300' mark, about 200' farther than Grubnic got.

Left Lane: Randy Parks Runs 5.066/215.62, Now #5
Right Lane: Jim Head Runs 4.764/302.92, Now #1

Parks gets the front end up and rides the wheelie bar for a long time, while Head streaks to the top spot in the Checker-Schuck's-Kragen dragster.

Left Lane: Eddie Hill Runs 10.067/85.04, Now #8

Hill gets a single, here... dunno why. And he duplicates Parks' run, the car right up on the wheelie bar until the tires unload and start trailing smoke.

Left Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 11.111/83.96, Now #11
Right Lane: Bob Vandergriff Runs 5.468/178.53, Now #6

Dixon was off the pace early after the tires lost traction, but it was Vandergriff that got our attention, the engine going up in flames -- lotsa flames -- and smoke at halftrack. The Safety Safari will head out to clean up the mess, but from the top end we hear Vandergriff say that the damage is routine and they'll be ready for the next round.

Left Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 4.728/296.54, Now #2
Right Lane: Cory McClenathan Runs 4.702/317.12, Now #1

Two good runs here, but Kalitta's engine gave up the ghost well before the finish line, scrubbing off a lot of speed. Cory Mac moves to the top of the heap with top speed of the meet as a bonus.

Left Lane: Kenny Bernstein Runs 4.651/309.91, Now #1
Right Lane: Mike Dunn Runs 4.977/211.86, Now #8

Again, both cars were headed for top-flight passes but Dunn's machine had other ideas, the cylinders mixing it up then a small flash of flame turns into a big ball of fire, and the Safety Safari trucks retake their places in the right lane. For Bernstein, this is the first pass since his gruesome crash in Memphis, and has to be a big load off both Kenny and the team as they move into the #1 spot.

Left Lane: Gary Scelzi Runs 5.117/207.27, Now #11
Right Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 4.714/305.49, Now #3

This is the first weekend out for Scelzi's brand new chassis, a replacement for the one that he crashed in Topeka. This car was actually built for Larry Dixon, but was identical to Scelzi's and Prudhomme offered it to Alan Johnson at Topeka. We note that Bruce Sarver is hanging with Team Winston this weekend, leading pretty strong credence to the rumors that he will drive Johnson's Funny Car next year. At the green, the left side of the Winston car's engine was dead right off the bat, and it didn't get any better as he drove down track. Finally the engine gave up the ghost completely at the 1000' mark, leading a dejected Scelzi to park the smoking hulk alongside the wall to wait for the Safety Safari truck.

Left Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 4.636/314.02, Now #1
Right Lane: Joe Amato Runs 4.667/307.58, Now #3

Texas open-wheel legend Johnny Rutherford is here enjoying this round of qualifying, and this pair gave him his money's worth. Saving the best for last, these two were wheel to wheel until Amato's machine started dropping cylinders at half track then the Exide dragster pulled ahead to take the top spot. That's worth eight of those valuable Winston Championship Points, so you can bet that Schumacher and Olson will work to retain the position as qualifying continues throughout the weekend.

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