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Sun, 31 Oct 1999, 05:09 PM

HOUSTON - Top Fuel Round 3 Eliminations
By Larry Sullivan

BAYTOWN, Texas - Results of round 3 eliminations in Top Fuel at the 3rd annual Matco Tools SuperNationals presented by Racing Champions:
   3 Larry Dixon         4.572 312.50  Q    2 Bob Vandergriff     4.563 316.01
   (M Smith     ) 0.527  4.593 312.93  E1   (D Foxworth  ) 0.524  6.328 248.29
   (K Bernstein ) 0.522  4.577 312.21  E2   (D Kalitta   ) 0.509  4.594 315.86
 *****WINNER***** 0.494  4.584 314.09  E3                  0.507  4.708 314.68
3:48 PM Dixon credited Dick LaHaie with "turning this team around" after his quarterfinals run. Dixon had a 3-1 advantage against Vandergriff in their previous four meetings this year and made it 4-1 with this one. Vandergriff wasn't far back at the start, but he pedaled it early in the run and that killed his ET, allowing Dixon to pull away to a big lead.
   4 Gary Scelzi         4.592 320.58  Q    8 Tony Schumacher     4.605 323.27
   (J Head      ) 0.522  4.514 319.37  E1   (R Parks     ) 0.510  4.569 323.04
   (T Gibson    ) 0.567  4.554 320.51  E2   (D Herbert   ) 0.485  4.585 325.30
 *****WINNER***** 0.500  4.480 312.21  E3                  0.513 11.351  77.26
This was a big matchup, the current Winston champion against the apparently soon-to-be-crowned Winston champion. A win here would slam the door hard for Schumacher, closing out even the slim mathematical chances Joe Amato and Gary Scelzi hold. But the title will have to be decided in Pomona, Schumacher up in smoke and Scelzi streaking away to reset the national ET record on a stunning pass, the quickest run in history. Needless to say, Scelzi has lane choice against Dixon in the finals. "Big Red" was clocked at 2.991 seconds and 274.05 mph at half track, also awesome numbers. That gives the title race a new wrinkle since Scelzi just gained 40 points on Schumacher and is now just 109 points behind. He can close that to 89 points if he wins this event. Slim, but it's still possible for Scelzi to repeat.

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