LAS VEGAS - Notes from round 1 qualifying in Top Fuel at the Inaugural AC Delco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals listing lane, driver name, elapsed time, top speed, and position in order following run:
Left Lane: Wyatt Radke Runs 4.818/296.11, Now #1
Right Lane: Garth Widdison No Time, Now #2
4:13 PM Radke is driving the car formerly driven by his close friend, the late Bobby Baldwin. He made a nice opening pass, the car straight and smooth to half track. Then the car started moving around, trailing a spray of oil from the rear of the car. The engine was pulling strongly all the way through, the header flames solid, but the slipping and sliding scrubbed off a lot of speed and some elapsed time. The cleanup starts between the 660-foot and 1,000-foot markers and goes all the way to the turnoff. Widdison's car didn't fire.
Left Lane: Gary Clapshaw Runs 4.689/299.20, Now #1
Right Lane: Clay Millican Runs 4.804/318.62, Now #2
Clapshaw loaned his car to Don Garlits at the U.S. Nationals, but is back in the saddle in his "Spirit of Las Vegas" dragster here at home. Millican finished the IHRA Top Fuel season last weekend, in Shreveport, LA, debuting and struggling with a new Hadman chassis. He's still running the new car here and plans to run it at Pomona in two weeks.
Clapshaw did a great job of driving here, the car headed for the half-track markers and Clapshaw desperately steering it back to the left. Finally the steering input "took" and the car snapped back to the left, then fishtailed all the way to the finish line, the blower belt sailing through the air just past the line. Meanwhile, it looked like Millican's crew is getting the new chassis sorted out, the car soft off the starting line, then coming on strong on the top end with a good speed, his speed just 255.10 at half track.
Left Lane: Brady Kalivoda Runs 4.861/301.07, Now #4
Right Lane: Steve Smith Runs 9.931/88.61, Now #5
Kalivoda made a nice run, a career-best ET and a solid speed. Smith went out about 200 feet, then lost traction.
Left Lane: Joe Hartley Runs 5.629/168.91, Now #6
Right Lane: Scott Weis Runs 4.864/304.87, Now #5
Hartley led to half track, but then started hazing the tires and slowed. Weis got to the other end, but well off his career-best pace.
Left Lane: Chris Karamesines Runs 4.878/272.34, Now #6
Right Lane: Tim Gibson Runs 6.936/135.73, Now #8
Karamesines went right down the groove, but there was lots of smoke from the headers on the top end. Gibson lost the blower belt about 300 feet out.
Left Lane: Andrew Cowin Runs 4.596/318.32, Now #1
Right Lane: Rhonda Hartman-Smith Runs 8.846/77.81, Now #10
Cowin went right down the groove on a smooth pass, moving to the top of the heap. Hartman-Smith lost traction about 200 feet out, the engine revs went up, then the engine went BOOM in a big fireball. The cleanup starts before the 330-foot marker, with lots of metal fragments to go with the oil.
Left Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 10.387/82.92, Now #13
Right Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 5.171/197.86, Now #8
It got very silent all of a sudden, Schumacher coasting from the 330-foot marker on, the car off the pace before getting that far. Herbert was on a strong pass, 3.186 seconds and 263.15 mph at half track, then his car, too, went silent, with no visible problems.
Left Lane: Darrell Russell Runs 4.765/303.09, Now #4
Right Lane: Mike Dunn Runs 4.681/320.05, Now #2
Both cars looked pretty good to half track, then Russell's dropped a cylinder and the car made a hard move toward the centerline. He handled it nicely, but it hurt his numbers. Dunn's car went right down the groove on a very conservative setup, his 0.883 60-foot time a bit off his usual short pace.
Left Lane: Gary Scelzi Runs 7.816/122.79, Now #13
Right Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 8.144/98.24, Now #14
Almost identical runs, 0.860 60-foot times and a cloud of tire smoke at 200 feet.
Left Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 4.602/305.93, Now #3
Right Lane: Kenny Bernstein Runs 4.575/322.34, Now #1
The final pair, round seventy-leben of the beer war. With just 15 points separating them, one of these two will be the 2001 Winston champion, all others out of contention. It could well go down to the final round of the final race of the season. This round goes to Bernstein, Dixon hot on his heels, both cars strong and straight all the way down the track.