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Sun, 4 Sep 2005, 03:17 PM

Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Session #4
By Larry Sullivan

CLERMONT, Ind. - Notes from round 4 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: David Grubnic Runs 5.394/175.39, Now #12; Best prior run: 4.613/324.67, Was #12
Right Lane: Tim Gibson Runs 4.751/289.01, Now #20; Best prior run: 5.223/208.30, Was #26

1:11 p.m. Weather conditions: air temperature 79 degrees, relative humidity 36 percent, barometer 29.74 inches, adjusted altitude 1,752 feet, track temperature 118 degrees.

Jack Beckman is on the bump spot at 4.701 and the only car left in field and in the seventies.

Grubnic's car was spinning the tires before half track. Gibson was on a good run to about 1,000 feet, then he, too, started spinning the tires and his car made a very hard move toward the wall when he shut it off, smoke pouring from the headers. That probably cost him a spot in the field and the Safety Safari appears to be cleaning up oil in his lane, starting before the finish line.

Left Lane: Morgan Lucas Runs 9.974/87.90, Now #9; Best prior run: 4.534/325.30, Was #9
Right Lane: Melanie Troxel Runs 15.186/66.50, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.565/326.48, Was #10

Tire smoke squared, immediately for Troxel, about 100 feet out for Lucas.

Left Lane: Bruce Litton Runs 7.529/108.46, Now #18; Best prior run: 4.706/315.27, Was #18
Right Lane: David Baca Runs 8.446/102.12, Now #27; Best prior run: 9.637/91.09, Was #27

More of the same, both getting off the line and smoking the tires about 100 feet out. It looks like the ten degree track temperature increase between the start of Funny Car qualifying and the start of Top Fuel qualifying has pushed these teams over the edge.

Left Lane: Scott Palmer Runs 6.327/138.67, Now #25; Best prior run: 5.120/225.22, Was #25
Right Lane: Jack Beckman Runs 6.261/125.75, Now #16; Best prior run: 4.701/270.64, Was #16

These two got a little further before losing traction, about 300 feet. beckman's car dropped a couple cylinders, then popped the blower before shutting off.

Right Lane: Clay Millican Runs 6.053/144.75, Now #15; Best prior run: 4.654/318.84, Was #15

There was a long delay while the Safety Safari cleaned up behind Beckman - Millican patiently waited it out, his crew shielding him from the Sun with a large umbrella. Then he joined the "300 feet and a puff of smoke club."

Right Lane: Joe Hartley Runs 11.219/104.56, Now #14; Best prior run: 4.623/321.50, Was #14

Hartley joined the "zero feet and a cloud of smoke club."

Left Lane: Luigi Novelli Runs 6.422/136.97, Now #22; Best prior run: 4.780/276.80, Was #22
Right Lane: T.J. Zizzo Runs 4.709/302.55, Now #13; Best prior run: 4.615/319.37, Was #13

Zizzo's crew softened thing up a bit and he managed to get all the way down the track with no tire smoke. Novelli got about 200 feet out, then lost traction.

Left Lane: John Smith Runs 5.597/184.32, Now #21; Best prior run: 4.768/312.21, Was #21
Right Lane: Rod Fuller Runs 4.585/326.63, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.520/325.61, Was #8

Fuller's crew chief Lee Beard said this morning that he was happy with their daytime tuneup, but they underestimated the track last night and didn't have enough clutch in it. Fuller improved slightly from yesterday's afternoon session on a flawless-looking run. Smith lost a lot of ground early in the run and threw in the towel around half track. Fuller now has four solid runs in the books, under both afternoon and evening conditions.

Left Lane: Bobby Lagana Jr. Runs 6.583/127.32, Now #19; Best prior run: 4.713/299.73, Was #19
Right Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 5.379/177.49, Now #6; Best prior run: 4.510/326.71, Was #6

The bump was still at 4.701 when Lagana staged. Both cars smoked the tires about 300 feet out - but Dixon was already in and Lagana was still on the outside.

Left Lane: Tim Cullinan No Time, Now #17; Best prior run: 4.703/290.38, Was #17
Right Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 4.621/322.11, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.510/327.51, Was #5

Cullinan's car is still unpainted, with white lettering on bare sheet metal. His car would not go into reverse after the burnout and he had to drive it off the top end to clear the track for Kalitta. Kalitta looks ready for mid-day racing, making a nice pass, but he could not match Fuller's pace.

Right Lane: Brandon Bernstein Runs 4.584/322.27, Now #4; Best prior run: 4.502/325.14, Was #4

Bernstein made a very nice run, a tick quicker than Fuller to take over the low ET of the round honors.

Left Lane: Scott Kalitta Runs 4.851/235.35, Now #7; Best prior run: 4.516/324.05, Was #7
Right Lane: Cory McClenathan Runs 4.548/326.32, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.497/328.14, Was #3

This was a nice side-by-side show to about half track, then Kalitta's car started dropping cylinders and falling back while Cory Mac's just kept right on trucking. He easily took over the best ET of the session on a very impressive run.

Left Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 4.544/316.82, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.459/329.18, Was #1
Right Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 4.741/273.55, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.463/326.56, Was #2

Okay, now we'll see just how good all the earlier runs in this session were, these two running within a thousandth of a second of each other at the intermediate timers last night. Schumacher took back the low ET of the session honors with no visible problems. Herbert lost some time to Schumacher early in the run, then dropped a cylinder or more and fell back rapidly on the top end.

With just one session left, the field was unchanged during this session.

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink

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