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Sat, 14 Oct 2006, 05:09 PM

Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Final Session
By Dan Bennett

DINWIDDIE, Va. - Notes from final, round 4 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:
Left Lane: Clay Millican Runs 14.620/65.83, Now #18; Best prior run: 4.721/297.02, Was #18

4:13 p.m. and Millican gets a single pass on his last chance to qualify. I suspect we'll see a lot of bumping in this class assuming that the teams have by now learned how to get past the tricky transition.

David Baca is on the bump spot at 4.672.

Immediate smoke and Millican is out of here.

Left Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 4.710/297.22, Now #14; Best prior run: 4.642/305.70, Was #14
Right Lane: Bobby Lagana Jr. Runs 4.645/305.01, Now #15; Best prior run: 5.000/226.96, Was #19

Herbert wants to move up and definitely wants to keep the track dry while he's doing it. Lagana is still looking for a decent run.

Herbert doesn't get what he wants but Lagana sure does. Though he drove pretty much all over the lane, Bobby gets his car across the finish line quick enough to make the show. That's the quickest and fastest he's ever run here with the NHRA.

Congratulations to a little guy team who works just as hard (or harder) as the big guys.

Left Lane: Hillary Will Runs 4.647/304.46, Now #13; Best prior run: 4.634/307.72, Was #13
Right Lane: Scott Weis Runs 4.805/286.50, Now #18; Best prior run: 4.683/311.56, Was #18

Will has to be looking hard at her last chance to get the run everyone knows the car is capable of. Weis would like to bump in here in his home state.

Neither racer is going to be pleased. Hillary's pass was clean and straight, Weis clouded the finish line with piston rings giving their life for the cause.

OK, so there must have been more than rings letting go. There's oil in the right lane and Weis gets his second oil down penalty (on consecutive passes, yet) for the weekend. And as an added parting gift, he doesn't qualify either.

4:25 p.m.

Left Lane: Troy Buff Runs 4.586/311.49, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.628/293.41, Was #12
Right Lane: David Baca Runs 4.661/291.82, Now #16; Best prior run: 4.672/305.70, Was #17

4:33 p.m. and the track is ready.

Vandergriff is bumped and Buff steps up to the tenth position.

Baca now takes the bump spot.

Right Lane: Bob Vandergriff Runs 6.383/107.93, Now #17; Best prior run: 4.662/226.92, Was #17

Torrence pulls out of line as he is now safe.

Vandergriff starts hazing the tires at 800 feet and then tosses the belt. There must be more parts broken as the sweeper is making a pass in his lane.

Lagana is now safe and will be racing tomorrow.

Left Lane: David Grubnic Runs 10.684/76.39, Now #9; Best prior run: 4.581/310.91, Was #9
Right Lane: Morgan Lucas Runs 4.821/231.36, Now #12; Best prior run: 4.601/311.70, Was #12

Everything from this point on will be for position as the rest of the cars in staging are currently qualified. We still haven't seen that the crew chiefs have been able to figure out the downtrack problem spot where the power really starts to pour on and the downforce is beginnning to build.

It's actually close to balmy right now as the sun has been directly on the track most of the afternoon. There's a great crowd here enjoying some superior racing.

Grubnic loses traction just like all the rest. Lucas gets to the finish line cleanly but the pass is nothing to brag about.

Left Lane: Cory McClenathan Runs 4.643/306.33, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.569/321.73, Was #8
Right Lane: Melanie Troxel Runs 4.581/308.64, Now #7; Best prior run: 4.567/290.19, Was #7

Melanie looks to be regaining her consistency. Though she lost a run in the second session, her other two passes are within a hundredth or so. Cory has been all over the place and looking for a good tuning run for tomorrow.

Troxel's many fans are cheering right now because it sure looks like she's back. She covers her other two runs like a rug and posts the quick time of the session so far.

Cory made a good pass until the engine let go in the lights and blossomed into a huge white cloud of smoke. Luckily, nothing got on the track and we're ready for the next pair.

Left Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 4.571/318.77, Now #6; Best prior run: 4.557/314.75, Was #6
Right Lane: Rod Fuller Runs 4.563/314.75, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.543/317.79, Was #3

That may have been the best pair yet this weekend. Though neither car improved, it was a great race - dry, clean, and straight to the finish line. Both teams have to like their respective setups for race day.

Left Lane: Brandon Bernstein Runs 4.558/319.75, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.552/311.34, Was #5

Another single here, and surprisingly we hear that J.R. Todd decided not to make a pass this session. With his car on a rail so far, I suppose that's understandable.

Brandon takes the long way home as he's all over the lane. He improves his ET but stays put in qualifying position.

Left Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 7.800/101.21, Now #4; Best prior run: 4.549/309.56, Was #4
Right Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 4.549/308.85, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.512/313.37, Was #1

Will the hulks of the class overpower the track?

According to Connie Kalitta, the reason the fuel cars are not running big MPH this weekend is due to the porosity of the track. The asphalt is not particularly dense, so Connie is saying that there's not as much rubber to bond to as would be optimal. They're spinning the tires on the big end.

And the final pair was pretty much ugly. Kalitta is hazing the tires before he bangs the blower at 500 feet. Schumacher clouds the finishline with death smoke.

Baca faces the Army team first round tomorrow.

4:59 p.m.

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink

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