POMONA, Calif. -- The opening round clash between Shirley Muldowney and Andrew Cowin was a wild one with both cars repeatedly smoking the tires. Muldowney actually appeared to be getting hooked up past half track but Cowin had more momentum despite boiling the tires every time he hit the throttle. Several times the K&N entry was pointed at the centerline but the Aussie wrestled it back in line to take the victory.
Joe Amato's retirement as a driver came a little earlier than he had hoped when he spun the tires against Dave Grubnic in round one of eliminations. Amato pedaled but the motor pitched a rod and he coasted to a 9.550 on his final run in competition. Later he noted that the run ate up all the T-shirt profits from his souvenir trailer for the weekend.
During a press conference this morning to announce his retirement Amato was asked by the Daily Bulletin's Loius Brewster as to who would be driving for the 5 time champ in 2001. Amato told Brewster that he would have to kill him if he told him and comment was greeted by a chorus of "Go Ahead" by the gathered throng who delight in taking a jab at Brewster who, along with the L.A. Times' Shav Glick, is a fixture here.
There has been a lot of speculation about the TBA venue listed for the weekend of .July 5-8 in the 2001 NHRA calendar with most popular rumor suggesting a third race here at Pomona. Look for an announcement regarding this event at the awards ceremony tomorrow.
Virgil Hartman told FNN this weekend that he has ordered one of the new "flexy flyer" McKinney dragsters for his team to supplement the current unit which debuted earlier this year. Rhonda Hartman-Smith missed the cut here after smoking or hazing the tires on all three attempts.
John Weaver won his race with Jett Field in the delayed opening round of FM/FC but when his chute was late in unfurling the Camaro barrelled into the sand trap so fast that it made it all the way to the arrestor net. Although it got airborne and turned through nearly 180 degrees after impacting the net the car did at least land right side up. The body was totaled and the chassis was bent upward at least 30 degrees at the front of the motor so Weaver was unable to return, especially galling in light of his winning 5.620, low e.t. of the event for the breed at the time.
This weekend the hot rumor regarding the Alan Johnson team was that Foxen Canyon Motorsports would be fielding a second funny car in 2001. When queried by FNN Alan Johnson admitted that a plan is in place to put Bruce Penhall in a car to be backed by Hot Wheels but that the deal is not finalized at this time. The great performance turned in today by Bruce Sarver, Richard Hogan and the rest of the e-moola.com team should have a positive impact on that program.
Also big in the rumor stakes was the story that Melanie Troxel's tenure at the Schumacher camp is over and Cory McClenathan will be taking his MBNA deal to that team.
Bo Nickens qualified for pro stock at his second attempt after missing the cut in his Houston debut. Driving the former John Nobile Avenger with Mopar Parts backing the younger Nickens qualified 9th with a 6.905 to be the quickest Dodge in the field. In round one Nickens had a great .432 light and a 6.910 to drive away from Ron Krisher but his race ended in round two when he fell to Jeg Coughlin's low elapsed time of the event at the time 6.862. That number of Coughlin's held up until the final round where Kurt Johnson unloaded a 6.85 /200.59 to beat the champion elect for the third time in 2000 final rounds. In fact Jeg has never beaten Kurt in four final round clashes.
Second generation racer David Baca rocked the rest of the FM/D contingent in qualifying when he ripped off the quickest run in the history of the category with a 5.287 in the opening round of eliminations. Prior to that Rick Santos had been the category leader with a 5.373 in the final qualifying session, backing up an earlier 5.397. In round two Baca was late in the Strasser/Baca nitro burner and slowed to a 5.634 to lose to the currently very hot Gary Ormsby Jr.
In that same round Santos stepped up with a 5.365 to reinforce his status as the quickest blown car in the category. When the semi final took place at just before 6 pm following the final rounds of the pro categories Santos rocked the opposition yet again with a 5.31 to defeat Gary Ormsby Jr. The cold track conditions present when the final eventually took place at 7 pm meant that Santos could only card a 5.44 e.t. but his speed was stout at 261.42 mph while defeating Darren Nicholson.
Immediately prior to the final rounds of the pro categories this afternoon Dan Davis
of Ford Racing Technology presented John Force with a new Jaguar XKR convertible in
recognition of his 10th funny car championship. Following his final round victroy
Force told those in the press room that he was trying to find a way to share Ford's
largesse with the entire Castrol team.