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Sat, 23 Oct 1999, 02:55 PM

DALLAS - Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Session #3
By Larry Sullivan

We've Struck Oil!

ENNIS, Texas - Notes from round 3 qualifying in Top Fuel at the 14th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec 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: Jim Head Runs 4.667/306.74, Now #7; Best prior run: 4.764/302.92, Was #12
Right Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 9.685/84.95, Now #11; Best prior run: 4.728/296.54, Was #10

12:30 PM The normally-aspirated cars have been flying down the track today, the cool air and bright sunshine apparently to their liking. Now we'll see how the blown fuel cars do with this almost-perfect drag racing weather (just a bit of cloud cover would make it a little bit better).

JIm Head's car likes it - a tenth of a second's worth of improvement. The engine ate a few parts on the top end, but late enough in the run to have little impact. Kalitta continues to struggle in the supposedly more reliable car formerly driven by Scott, smoking the tires about 100 feet off the starting line.

Left Lane: Rhonda Hartman Runs 5.355/174.99, Now #18; Best prior run: 11.381/59.05, Was #22
Right Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 4.603/301.20, Now #5; Best prior run: 6.179/135.52, Was #21

These two were pretty much side-by-side to half track, but then Hartman's car started eating parts and losing power while Dixon's car dropped a cylinder on the left side. That bumps Doug Foxworth and makes Gary Scelzi's 4.818 the mark to beat to get into the field. The Safety Safari rolls to the cleanup in the left lane, so Hartman's engine woes were of the wet kind. Looks like there will be an unplanned diaper change in the Hartman pits before the final qualifying session. On the engine, not the baby.

Left Lane: Terry Mullins Runs 9.302/88.86, Now #15; Best prior run: 4.784/297.61, Was #14
Right Lane: Tim Gibson Runs 4.664/299.90, Now #7; Best prior run: 6.107/138.67, Was #21

Mullins goes out about 100 feet and then the rear tires disappear in a dense cloud of tire smoke. No problems in Gibson's lane, however, the car leaving hard and marching smartly right down the groove, all eight header flames pale blue with light orange tips all the way through the lights, giving Gibson his quickest elapsed time ever. That bumps Scelzi and puts Randy Parks on the bubble at 4.788.

Left Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 11.893/74.93, Now #12; Best prior run: 4.714/305.49, Was #12
Right Lane: Kenny Bernstein Runs 4.613/315.01, Now #6; Best prior run: 4.651/309.91, Was #6

Herbert lost traction almost immediately. Bernstein's car never faltered, eight strong, steady header flames all the way down the strip. His team was actually disappointed with the run, hoping for something better, but if they can keep running like that they will be in good shape Sunday.

Left Lane: David Grubnic Runs 5.265/262.08, Now #19; Best prior run: 5.783/151.54, Was #21
Right Lane: Doug Foxworth Runs 4.848/289.85, Now #18; Best prior run: 4.870/295.85, Was #18

Problems in both lanes here, Grubnic's the worst of the two. Foxworth's car was spraying oil out of the "puke tank" from the starting line all the way down the track, a symptom of burned pistons and rings. Grubnic was on a good pass until half track, where it looked like it pushed out a head gasket, trailing flames that progressively got worse as he went down the track, the engine finally letting go in a big fireball before the finish line. Once again the Safety Safari rolls to the cleanup, the whole length of the right lane and the top half of the left.

Left Lane: Bob Vandergriff Runs 4.680/304.67, Now #10; Best prior run: 5.468/178.53, Was #21
Right Lane: Gary Scelzi Runs 9.956/76.49, Now #18; Best prior run: 4.818/217.86, Was #17

That was as big a cleanup as we've seen anywhere this year, the entire length of the right lane and most of the left. Both these drivers watched intently as the Safety Safari did their magic on the two lanes since both were outside, looking in. Scelzi went up in smoke after 100 feet but Vandergriff finally got to the other end, though he did damage the engine in the lights. The Safety Safari rolls again, this time starting in the left lane, just before the finish line.

Vandergriff bumped Parks and put Mullins on the bump at 4.784. Scelzi finds himself in the unaccustomed position of being outside the field with just one more chance to qualify, definitely a pressure situation for the driver and crew.

Left Lane: Joe Amato Runs 4.566/319.26, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.667/307.58, Was #8
Right Lane: Randy Parks Runs 10.313/54.47, Now #17; Best prior run: 4.788/268.57, Was #17

This time the cleanup took just a few minutes and we were running again. Parks lost traction and shook so hard that the chutes came out in the first 100 feet. No problems for Amato, though the car did move around a lot on the top end on an otherwise picture-perfect run. Once again, however, there was a deposit on the top end of the left lane, so once again the Safety Safari rolls to the rescue.
Var> Left Lane: Mike Dunn Runs 4.671/294.88, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.729/246.64, Was #15
Right Lane: Eddie Hill Runs 4.607/317.34, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.601/320.74, Was #5

Dunn moves up the ladder with a good run, the cylinders mixing it up a bit on the top end, and Hill shows great consistency with his second 4.60 in a row. Best of all, there's no oil on the track.

Left Lane: Don Lampus Runs 4.712/310.45, Now #12; Best prior run: 4.694/310.77, Was #12
Right Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 10.681/75.70, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.557/326.91, Was #2

Lampus made a clean run, right down the groove, his third of the event. Schumacher launched, started to haze and shake the tires, and called it off to save the parts for tonight.

Left Lane: Cory McClenathan Runs 4.746/237.84, Now #4; Best prior run: 4.580/311.74, Was #4
Right Lane: Scott Kalitta Runs 4.936/206.56, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.546/318.92, Was #1

The final pair of cars ends the round with a whimper and a bang, Cory Mac with a flash of flame from the top of the engine on the top end and Kalitta with the header flames out before the 1,000-foot marker. For the last time this session, the Safety Safari rolls to the rescue on the top end of the left lane.

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