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Sat, 14 Oct 2006, 02:03 PM

Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Session #3
By Dan Bennett

DINWIDDIE, Va. - Notes from round 3 qualifying in Top Fuel at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, Inaugural Torco Racing Fuels 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:
Right Lane: Troy Buff Runs 4.628/293.41, Now #11; Best prior run: 4.647/291.89, Was #12

Good thing we had a short break before going into the fuel session so everyone could catch a breath. Fuel cars make their own air, so the real question here is if there is enough track to hold runs at the level that we saw in Pro Stock.

Last night, the critical part of the track was from 100 to 300 feet. Let's see if the fuelers can handle that part a little better this session.

The bump is 4.721

Nice pass for Buff, the best ET he's ever run.

The pass was smooth and straight but the engine may have labored a bit too much in the middle of the run.

Left Lane: Melanie Troxel Runs 4.578/304.19, Now #7; Best prior run: 4.567/290.19, Was #7
Right Lane: David Grubnic Runs 4.591/302.48, Now #9; Best prior run: 4.581/310.91, Was #9

Great runs in both lanes but all eyes were on Troxel as her car wandered all over the lane. She finessed it across the finish line but probably lost ET in the process.

The track temperature is now up to 89 degrees, so we're getting real close to the sweet spot.

Left Lane: Rod Fuller Runs 4.573/306.53, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.543/317.79, Was #3
Right Lane: Steve Torrence Runs 4.593/315.93, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.656/287.41, Was #13

Great drag race!

Torrence resets his personal best on his way into the .50s and moves up to the 10th spot.

Left Lane: Bobby Lagana Jr. Runs 5.000/226.96, Now #18; Best prior run: 10.619/74.40, Was #19
Right Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 4.642/305.70, Now #14; Best prior run: 4.752/264.70, Was #17

These guys need to get into field, and this may be their best chance to do so.

If we were running 800', it might have worked. Both cars did a good job of getting off the line but both had engine problems long before the finish line.

We get the call that cleanup is needed so the Safety Safari rolls.

Left Lane: Morgan Lucas Runs 4.640/294.75, Now #11; Best prior run: 4.601/311.70, Was #11
Right Lane: Hillary Will Runs 12.048/83.76, Now #13; Best prior run: 4.634/307.72, Was #13

That turned out to be just a quick touch up for parts only with no oil found.

Will's run doesn't get much off the line before the car is engulfed in smoke. Lucas goes through the traps with flickering orange flames, never a good sign.

The big end is checked but we're OK and the next pair is fired.

Left Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 6.404/121.33, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.512/313.37, Was #1
Right Lane: Clay Millican Runs 14.804/63.82, Now #17; Best prior run: 4.721/297.02, Was #17

Schumacher is sporting the new "Army Strong" logo this weekend.

Millican smokes at the hit and the Sarge follows suit at the problem spot downtrack.

Tony Schumacher's incremental times: 60ft-0.829 sec., 330ft-2.122, 660ft-3.301/177.44mph, 1,000ft-4.745

Left Lane: David Baca Runs 5.479/170.62, Now #15; Best prior run: 4.672/305.70, Was #15
Right Lane: Cory McClenathan Runs 7.380/97.87, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.569/321.73, Was #8

Same story, though these guys managed to move the smoke further along.

This time, the Safari rolls just about all its stuff so we seem to have oil.

Baca has no free passes so this one is going to cost him. The work begins about 400 feet and continues to the finish line.

1:04 p.m.

The plot thickens as both lanes end up turning white from rice hull ash. Baca gets both sides. Originally it was thought that Cory had contributed to the mess due to the amount of oil in his lane, but he was declared innocent after a close inspection of his car found no external oil.

Left Lane: Scott Weis Runs 4.730/291.89, Now #16; Best prior run: 4.683/311.56, Was #16
Right Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 4.836/237.34, Now #6; Best prior run: 4.557/314.75, Was #6

1:38 p.m.

Well, that felt like a lunch hour or something. After an extensive clean up effort, the next pair fires.

Dixon moves out of the groove slightly on the top end, and Weis produces a midsize smoke cloud as he crosses the finish line.

We are notified of oil in the left lane. Weis doesn't have any passes so this one is going to cost him.

Any commment I might make at this point would possibility get me into trouble and put FastNews into more disrepute than it already is. The crowd starts looking around for a pillow vendor.

1:41 p.m.

Left Lane: Bob Vandergriff Runs 4.662/226.92, Now #15; Best prior run: 9.463/98.31, Was #19
Right Lane: Brandon Bernstein Runs 4.972/204.17, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.552/311.34, Was #5

1:48 p.m. and we're ready to race.

Vandergriff in the UPS Freight car. I'm continually amazed at how UPS manages to make the color brown attractive.

Nothing wrong with the track, that's for sure. There is not a better group of traction experts than the Safety Safari.

Bernstein noses over at about 900 ft after having a great first half. Vandergriff is shut down early but manages to bump in for now.

Left Lane: J.R. Todd Runs 4.528/318.39, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.534/313.88, Was #2
Right Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 11.074/81.54, Now #4; Best prior run: 4.549/309.56, Was #4

I hate to keep bragging on this kid and his team, but why wouldn't you? The last few races they have been very impressive. Though the car is moving around a bit on the top end, he runs his best time of the weekend.

Kalitta hits the trouble spot and clicks it off.

Schumacher remains on top, Baca is on the bump at 4.672

1:55 p.m.

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink

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