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Sun, 14 Oct 2001, 01:25 PM

Payne & Smith Possibly Square Off in Final
Courtesy of NHRA Marketing

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- After the first round of NHRA Federal-Mogul Drag Racing Series eliminations at Bristol Dragway, Jay Payne and Von Smith have both advanced, and may possibly square off in the final round of competition in Federal-Mogul Funny Car.

Payne of Claremont, Calif., defeated William Fulford of Virginia Beach, Va., with a 5.802 second, 221.34 mph pass. A six-car field this weekend means that Payne will receive a bye in the semi-final round, and an automatic bid into the finals.

With a win here tonight or at Las Vegas Speedway, Nov. 2-4, Smith will win the NHRA Southeast division for Federal-Mogul Funny Car. The Oak Ridge, Tenn., resident will travel to Las Vegas depending on how he performs here tonight. "I'm planning on going out there for the National events in Vegas and Pomona," stated Smith. "I'll also compete in the Vegas divisional depending on how I do here."

If the Funny Car driver does not take the win tonight, Payne will follow Smith to Vegas to thwart his efforts from winning the race. The two racers will face each other in the finals, if Smith defeats Steve Harker of Brisbane, Quebec, in the semi-finals.

"Payne came up to me and asked me if I'm planning on going to Vegas for the divisional," said Smith. "We'll see what happens."

Smith has won three of five races this year against Payne, but has dropped two in a row.

Eliminations continue tonight and will be released as soon as they are available.

The following are Saturday's first-round elimination results and semi-final pairings from the NHRA Federal-Mogul Drag Racing Series at Bristol Dragway:

Round 1
1. Bill McCornack, Lexington, Ky., '99 Dragster, 5.599 seconds, 242.93 mph vs. BYE

2. Billy Bybee, McLean, Texas, '01 Dragster, 5.531, 258.14 def.
7. Lou Novotny, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, '99 Dragster, 6.641, 211.30

3. Artie Allen, Jacksonville, Fla., '01 Dragster, 5.734, 243.24 def.
6. Bruce Horner, Bergenfield, N.J., '89 Dragster, BROKE

5. Marty Thacker, Robinson, Ill., '95 Dragster, 5.904, 226.32 def.
4. Don Fiorelli, Palm Bay, Fla., '96 Dragster, 5.903, 240.12

Bill McCornack vs. Marty Thacker
Billy Bybee vs. Artie Allen

Round 1
1. Jay Payne, Claremont, Calif., '01 Camaro, 5.802 seconds, 221.34 mph def.
6. William Fulford, Virginia Beach, Va., '00 Corvette, 6.725, 211.59

2. Von Smith, Oak Ridge, Tenn., '01 Pontiac, 5.844, 247.47 def.
5. Bruce Mullins, Fredericksburg, Va., '98 Mustang, 6.088, 231.91

4. Steve Harker, Brisbane, Quebec, CAN, '99 Avenger, 6.027, 238.55 def.
3. Bruce Peterson Jr., Wappingers Falls, N.Y., '98 Avenger, 6.162, 230.02

Jay Payne vs. BYE
Von Smith vs. Steve Harker

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