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Sat, 3 Sep 2005, 10:05 PM

Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Session #3
By Larry Sullivan

CLERMONT, Ind. - Notes from round 3 qualifying in Top Fuel at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, 51st annual Mac Tools 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: Don Reed Runs 5.163/212.83, Now #23; Best prior run: 11.862/62.44, Was #26
Right Lane: Chris Karamesines Runs 4.853/285.71, Now #17; Best prior run: 4.906/278.40, Was #20

8:11 p.m. Weather conditions: air temperature 77 degrees, relative humidity 37 percent, barometer 29.71 inches, adjusted altitude 1,657 feet, track temperature 89 degrees.

Bobby Lagana Jr. is on the bump spot at 4.838.

Reed's car kept going further left until he almost hit the wall. He lifted and there was a lot of smoke and a flash of sparks, but the TV replay confirmed that he did not hit the wall. Mean while, Karamesines went right down the groove on his best pass of the weekend, but he came up just short of the bump.

Left Lane: Jack Beckman Runs 4.703/256.80, Now #12; Best prior run: 4.701/270.64, Was #12
Right Lane: Bruce Litton Runs 5.650/159.93, Now #13; Best prior run: 4.706/315.27, Was #13

Beckman pushed out a head gasket with lots of green flames, but there was no big fireball. Litton lost traction about 200 feet out and coasted through the top end.

Left Lane: David Baca Runs 9.637/91.09, Now #25; Best prior run: 9.693/89.43, Was #24
Right Lane: Mitch King Runs 4.885/263.10, Now #19; Best prior run: 4.875/268.38, Was #18

There was a quick cleanup on the top end before these two ran, it was not clear who was the guilty party.

Baca launched, pedaled, smoked the tires and gave it up. King ran it all the way through with no major problems visible.

Left Lane: T.J. Zizzo Runs 4.615/319.37, Now #11; Best prior run: 4.618/313.58, Was #11
Right Lane: Luigi Novelli Runs 4.780/276.80, Now #16; Best prior run: 15.149/82.45, Was #27

Zizzo is a relative "new guy," Novelli has been at this for years. Both made good runs, side-by-side until Novelli pushed out a head gasket on the top end of the run. But it was just enough for Novelli to bump into the field, replacing Lagana on the bubble.

Left Lane: Melanie Troxel Runs 10.099/81.36, Now #7; Best prior run: 4.565/326.48, Was #7
Right Lane: Tim Cullinan Runs 4.703/290.38, Now #13; Best prior run: 10.641/78.94, Was #27

Troxel's car leaped off the line with the front wheels way in the air, then started spinning the rear tires and she lifted. Cullinan was slower early in the run, but was able to keep the candles lit all the way through to bump Novelli. Now Joe Hartley is on the bump spot at 4.771.

Left Lane: Joe Hartley Runs 4.623/321.50, Now #12; Best prior run: 4.771/316.01, Was #16
Right Lane: Scott Palmer Runs 5.120/225.22, Now #24; Best prior run: 5.139/213.37, Was #24

Nice pass by Hartley, a career-best elapsed time and speed, to get off the bump spot. Palmer fell back quickly and was off the throttle way before the finish line.

Left Lane: Clay Millican Runs 4.654/318.84, Now #13; Best prior run: 4.888/245.14, Was #22
Right Lane: Morgan Lucas Runs 8.940/93.02, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.534/325.30, Was #5

Nothing spectacular, but Millican's team apparently decided it was time to get into the field and they did just that, the car steady and smooth all the way through the run. Lucas started smoking the tires, pedaled, and smoked them again. That bumped Scott Weis from the field and put Bruce Litton on the bump spot at 4.706. There was a quick cleanup in Millican's lane in the shutdown area.

Left Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 4.463/326.56, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.868/228.15, Was #21
Right Lane: Bobby Lagana Jr. Runs 4.713/299.73, Now #18; Best prior run: 4.838/281.30, Was #19

Lagana's best in NHRA competition is a 4.706, matching the current bump spot. lagana improved, but came up short. No problem with coming up short for Herbert, running a career-best elapsed time on a flawless-looking pass. That bumped Litton, putting Tim Cullinan on the bump spot at 4.703 and there are only two 4.70s left in the field.

Left Lane: Brandon Bernstein Runs 4.502/325.14, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.570/326.32, Was #10
Right Lane: John Smith Runs 4.768/312.21, Now #20; Best prior run: 4.945/243.55, Was #23

Bernstein's crew tightened the screws for this run and he went right down the groove, another flawless-looking pass. Smith steadily fell behind and was unable to break into the increasingly-tough field.

Left Lane: Cory McClenathan Runs 4.497/328.14, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.550/316.82, Was #8
Right Lane: Scott Weis Runs 4.591/322.65, Now #11; Best prior run: 4.757/305.36, Was #19

Weis was bumped from the field earlier in the round. Both cars made very nice runs, Cory Mac into the forties, Weis bumping Cullinan, leaving Jack Beckman on the bump with the only seventy left in the field, a 4.701 - but the remaining cars are already in the field, so beckman is safe until tomorrow.

Left Lane: Rod Fuller Runs 4.527/325.61, Now #6; Best prior run: 4.520/325.61, Was #6
Right Lane: David Grubnic Runs 9.520/74.44, Now #12; Best prior run: 4.613/324.67, Was #12

Fuller slowed slightly from his best run, but there was nothing visibly wrong with this one. Grubnic smoked the tires before going 100 feet.

Left Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 4.510/327.51, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.517/327.59, Was #5
Right Lane: Scott Kalitta Runs 4.516/324.05, Now #6; Best prior run: 4.531/328.78, Was #7

Jesse James is supposedly "in the house" this weekend, on a MAC Tools promotional tour. This was a pretty sight, side-by-side 4.51 runs by the Kalittas. Scott's header flames went out first, by a fraction of a second.

Left Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 4.510/326.71, Now #6; Best prior run: 4.569/324.83, Was #10
Right Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 4.459/325.61, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.459/329.18, Was #1

Final pair, and the hot rumor is that Alan Johnson is "going for 20" (points, that is, for a national elapsed time record). Schumacher's earlier 4.459 is good enough to back up anything down to a 4.415, the existing record is 4.441. Nope, but he matched his Friday night run and sent the crowd home happy. Tony Schumacher's incremental times: 60ft-0.825 sec., 330ft-2.109, 660ft-3.017/276.97mph, 1,000ft-3.789. Dixon made another nice run, moving up to sixth, but Schumacher ran away from him.

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink

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