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Sat, 22 Oct 2005, 09:09 PM

Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Final Session
By Larry Sullivan

LAS VEGAS - Notes from final, round 4 qualifying in Top Fuel at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, Fifth annual ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA 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: Joe Hartley Runs 4.696/312.50, Now #15; Best prior run: 7.306/119.77, Was #23

4:49 p.m. Weather conditions: air temperature 75 degrees, relative humidity 28 percent, barometer 28.28 inches, adjusted altitude 3,179 feet, track temperature 96 degrees.

Robert Reehl is on the bump spot at 4.734. With improved weather conditions for this round, things could change a lot before the round is over, particularly the light cloud dover that should tighten up the track surface.

Really, folks, I wrote that before Hartley ran. He made a nice, smooth, quick run - not a career-best, but one of his best, to bump Reehl from the field. That put David Baca on the bump spot at 4.718.

Left Lane: Ray Stutz Runs 5.401/286.07, Now #23; Best prior run: 5.388/250.60, Was #23
Right Lane: Mike Strasburg Runs 9.923/87.81, Now #20; Best prior run: 4.984/222.47, Was #20

Strasburg's car shuddered and slowed about 400 feet out. Stutz made a soft launch and his car was all over the lane on the top end, dropping cylinders on the left side and over near the wall.

Left Lane: Scott Weis Runs 4.700/298.21, Now #17; Best prior run: 5.048/211.86, Was #22
Right Lane: John Smith Runs 4.592/320.89, Now #12; Best prior run: 4.823/249.12, Was #19

Weis made a good run, came up short. Smith made a great run, jumping into the field, putting Hartley on the bump at 4.696.

Left Lane: Steven Chrisman Runs 5.344/203.89, Now #22; Best prior run: 5.035/279.09, Was #22
Right Lane: Robert Reehl Runs 4.849/310.34, Now #19; Best prior run: 4.734/320.58, Was #19

After a brief break to honor Greg Anderson for clinching his third POWERade Pro Stock Championship in a row, action resumed with this pair of drivers, both attempting to bump Hartley from the field.

Nope. Chrisman's header flames went out around half track. Reehl made a clean-looking run, but he left a lot on the table early in the run.

Left Lane: Bobby Lagana Jr. Runs 4.722/317.19, Now #19; Best prior run: 4.736/308.28, Was #20
Right Lane: Clay Millican Runs 4.655/312.28, Now #15; Best prior run: 4.682/281.19, Was #15

These two are frequent opponents on the IHRA trail, but Lagana is driving Bill Miller's dragster here instead of the family dragster he runs "in the other series." Both these teams should be running better than they have this weekend, either could step up at any time. Both did step up, but Millican stayed fifteenth and Lagana stayed out of the field.

Left Lane: David Baca Runs 4.877/241.02, Now #18; Best prior run: 4.718/314.90, Was #18
Right Lane: Doug Foley Runs 4.709/300.00, Now #14; Best prior run: 4.653/292.65, Was #14

We are running out of cars that could bump into the field - in fact, Baca is the last with a chance to knock Hartley out. Baca had a chance up to the half-track marker, then the engine let go and he slowed, the engine afire and the Safety Safari trying to flag him down and put it out. Foley made a clean run, but failed to improve and he will face a tough opponent in the first round. The cleanup starts at the base of the hill...

Left Lane: Brandon Bernstein Runs 4.544/325.14, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.590/320.43, Was #11

Now that bumping is finished, there is a small matter of determining the pairings for tomorrow's eliminations. Bernstein has struggled here, getting down the track on all three attempts, but unable to move out of the bottom of the field. He took care of that problem with a fine run, right down the groove, the header flames tall and steady.

Left Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 4.578/326.87, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.570/323.97, Was #10
Right Lane: David Grubnic Runs 6.421/126.42, Now #9; Best prior run: 4.564/323.12, Was #9

Same story here, both cars making solid runs (except for a mechanical failure on Grubnic's car in the second session yesterday), but mired in the bottom half of the field. That problem did not go away here, Grubnic with tire smoke at half track and Kalitta unable to improve over his earlier runs.

Left Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 4.528/315.12, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.558/317.72, Was #8
Right Lane: Cory McClenathan Runs 4.575/318.32, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.553/324.44, Was #7

Cory Mac has three good runs on the books, looking for four. Herbert has been hot-and-cold. Both made good runs here, but Cory Mac fell off his earlier pace slightly while Herbert jumped right into the thick of things, putting McClenathan right in the middle of the field, where he will face David Grubnic in the first round.

Left Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 4.676/315.64, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.524/325.53, Was #3
Right Lane: Rod Fuller Runs 4.525/324.20, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.547/326.08, Was #7

Dixon lost a lot of time early in the run, the reason not evident from here. Fuller stepped up once again on a pretty pass, right down the groove, Lee Beard showing he hasn't forgotten how to tune "one of those long, skinny cars."

Left Lane: Melanie Troxel Runs 10.335/78.58, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.521/328.78, Was #2
Right Lane: Morgan Lucas Runs 4.508/322.88, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.525/324.36, Was #4

This is the last pair before the final round of the Bud Shootout.

Troxel smoked the tires about 100 feet out. Lucas stepped up with a very strong run to move into the #1 spot - but the Army Dragster is up next and ran a non-counting 4.49 in the semifinals of the Shootout.

Left Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 4.572/326.95, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.516/325.53, Was #2
Right Lane: Scott Kalitta Runs 4.593/321.81, Now #13; Best prior run: 4.649/321.58, Was #13

This is the final round of the Budweiser Shootout as well as the final qualifying run for both drivers.

Crew Chief Alan Johnson gets a lot of credit for Schumacher's success, but the driver ain't too shabby. Had this been just qualifying, Schumacher probably would have thrown in the towel when the car started to shake the tires about 300 feet out, but since it was for a $100,000 payday, he slapped the throttle, the header flames went out briefly, and he got it hooked back up again. Kalitta also made a good run, improving from his earlier runs, but he stayed in the "lucky" 13th spot in the order.

Morgan Lucas is the #1 qualifier, for the second time in his young career (the first was Atlanta, this year), with a 4.508, and Joe Hartley is on the bump spot at 4.696.

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink

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