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Sat, 2 Sep 2000, 06:16 PM

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

CLERMONT, Ind. - Notes from round 3 qualifying in Top Fuel at the 46th annual U.S. Nationals 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: Luigi Novelli No Time, Now #17; Best prior run: 5.119/271.62, Was #17
Right Lane: Chris Karamesines Runs 11.565/87.70, Now #19; Best prior run: 5.312/243.11, Was #19

4:41 PM We open the third qualifying session with a pair of drivers who admit to being 57 and 69, respectively (and some veteran observers say they are older). But we'll have to wait to see them race each other, Novelli with a fuel leak on the burnout and Karamesines losing traction immediately.

Right Lane: Shirley Muldowney Runs 9.467/89.75, Now #11; Best prior run: 4.779/306.53, Was #11

Another "senior citizen," Muldowney admitting to being 60. She got about 100 feet out, then smoked the tires. She was out of the throttle quickly, saving the parts for another run.

Right Lane: Paul Romine Runs 4.849/306.95, Now #14; Best prior run: 8.588/85.76, Was #22

Another single. Romine is one of the few drivers running the formula car-style airscoop, with the butterflies at the base of the scoop, rather than the traditional "bug catcher" intake or the now-popular carbon fiber "snorkle" bug catcher. He runs a clean, smooth, easy pass to bump Bruce Litton. Now the bump spot belongs to Steve Smith, with a 4.921.

Left Lane: Joe Amato Runs 4.750/305.84, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.689/312.57, Was #5
Right Lane: Don Lampus Runs 4.812/304.94, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.745/312.93, Was #8

Two "get down the track" runs here, Amato getting down cleanly and Lampus having to grab the brake at mid track to tame some tire spin.

Left Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 4.687/308.99, Now #4; Best prior run: 4.668/309.20, Was #4
Right Lane: Bruce Litton Runs 4.778/308.43, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.954/236.34, Was #17

Two nice passes, Dixon 4.60'ing them to death and Litton getting back in the field, bumping Smith. Now it's Melanie Troxel who's on the bubble, at 4.875.

Left Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 4.755/306.95, Now #9; Best prior run: 5.952/183.24, Was #22
Right Lane: Rhonda Hartman-Smith Runs 4.797/306.19, Now #14; Best prior run: 5.252/201.58, Was #19

Double bump, both Troxel and Romine now out of the field and Andrew Cowin on the bubble at 4.847 following a pair of good-looking runs, side-by-side all the way to the lights.

Left Lane: Gary Scelzi Runs 4.751/308.28, Now #9; Best prior run: 5.884/148.72, Was #22
Right Lane: Melanie Troxel Runs 4.937/302.21, Now #19; Best prior run: 4.875/264.70, Was #18

Scelzi figured to be in long ago, and Troxel was just bumped out. Scelzi got the job done, but Troxel's car dropped cylinders immediately and she failed to improve. That bumps Cowin, putting another Aussie on the bubble, David Grubnic at 4.832.

Left Lane: Cory McClenathan Runs 4.832/288.27, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.655/317.57, Was #1
Right Lane: Kenny Bernstein Runs 7.205/105.51, Now #6; Best prior run: 4.697/314.46, Was #6

Looked like eliminations practice for Cory Mac, the rear tires smoking from half track through the lights. Bernstein lost traction a bit earlier, around 400 feet out, and he shut it down.

Left Lane: David Grubnic Runs 5.833/300.86, Now #16; Best prior run: 4.832/299.86, Was #16
Right Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 4.818/292.39, Now #11; Best prior run: 4.755/301.81, Was #11

Both these drivers were interested in moving up the ladder, Grubnic on the bubble and Kalitta used to being much closer to the top of the ladder. No help for either, Grubnic losing a thousandth of a second from yesterday and Kalitta dropping a cylinder immediately and then pushing out a head gasket around the 1,000-foot marker with a flash of green flame from the top of the engine.

Left Lane: Andrew Cowin Runs 4.788/303.71, Now #15; Best prior run: 4.847/273.83, Was #17
Right Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 4.747/303.03, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.662/314.75, Was #3

Final pair, Cowin trying to get back in and Schumacher trying to repeat what he's done twice already at this event, run a sixty. Cowin knocks out the other Aussie, putting Hartman-Smith on the bubble, while Schumacher loses traction on the top end of his run, losing almost a tenth of a second and just over 10 MPH, give or take.

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