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Sat, 1 Sep 2007, 08:22 PM

Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Session #3
By Dan Bennett

CLERMONT, Ind. - Notes from round 3 qualifying in Top Fuel at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, 53rd 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: Joe Hartley Runs 9.228/90.61, Now #20; Best prior run: 6.501/130.18, Was #20

7:28 p.m.

After a ceremony of historic racecars, we're ready for Top Fuel. Just like the previous classes, it's going to be critical for the crew chief to not overestimate what the track can hold.

Weather conditions: air temperature 81 degrees, relative humidity 35 percent, barometer 29.22 inches, adjusted altitude 2,467 feet, track temperature 102 degrees.

Hartley leaves hard with the front wheels dangling but is up in smoke at 300 feet.

Left Lane: T.J. Zizzo Runs 4.578/322.11, Now #10; Best prior run: 10.686/72.95, Was #23
Right Lane: Luigi Novelli Runs 4.706/295.46, Now #17; Best prior run: 5.947/150.73, Was #19

Brandon Bernstein is on the bump spot at 4.823. Both of these Chicago-area racers need to make a big step up if they want to play on Labor Day.

Luigi might need to set another goal since he met his last one and cut off his ponytail. But come to think of it, I don't know what the next thing to cut off would be and don't really want to even think about it.

Zizzo pops the wheels up on the leave and blasts down the track for the quickest pass he's ever driven. REALLY nice run for the Peak team. They jump all the way up to the number 10 spot.

Luigi just misses the bump and is in the 17th spot.

Left Lane: Whit Bazemore Runs 4.601/330.23, Now #14; Best prior run: 8.094/86.99, Was #23
Right Lane: Alan Bradshaw Runs 7.799/92.11, Now #12; Best prior run: 4.594/314.61, Was #12

Bazemore is still not qualified so I suspect the car is set up to run a safe but decent ET. Bradshaw is in the field at #12.

Scotty Cannon is on the bump spot at 4.657.

Bazemore goes right in but Bradshaw smokes the tires at halftrack as the clutch stages are slamming in.

Left Lane: J.R. Todd Runs 4.601/319.67, Now #15; Best prior run: 6.668/125.89, Was #23
Right Lane: Melanie Troxel Runs 4.543/329.50, Now #4; Best prior run: 4.520/329.18, Was #4

Clay Millican is now on the bump spot at 4.647.

Melanie is safe, J.R. needs to get in. By the way, don't believe everything you read about Todd's plans for next year. I'm hearing that he has made no plans or agreements for 2008 at this point.

J.R. gets down the track for the first time but he's only good for the 15th spot and shouldn't feel too comfortable right now.

Troxel repeats very nicely with some big speed again.

Left Lane: Scotty Cannon Runs 4.666/296.24, Now #18; Best prior run: 4.657/318.09, Was #18
Right Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 5.150/191.00, Now #13; Best prior run: 4.597/307.02, Was #13

Bruce Litton takes over the bump spot at 4.604.

Kalitta has some shake and then the engine goes dead just past half track. Cannon goes through on a clean run but it's not enough to qualify.

Left Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 4.504/323.81, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.481/327.74, Was #2
Right Lane: Bobby Lagana Jr. No Time, Now #22; Best prior run: 5.046/217.11, Was #22

Lagana is a no-show. When you're investing everything you have in a car, you don't always need to waste money on a run you don't have to have.

Dixon runs a pretty pass and jumps to #2.

Left Lane: Morgan Lucas Runs 4.537/325.45, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.554/327.74, Was #8
Right Lane: Doug Foley Runs 6.258/138.51, Now #7; Best prior run: 4.527/324.20, Was #7

Both cars leave hard but Foley's flames go out right about half track, followed closely by a fireworks display underneath his car. Looks like a clutch let go to me, as there were sparklers bouncing all over the track.

Left Lane: Bruce Litton Runs 4.575/324.12, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.604/325.61, Was #16
Right Lane: Clay Millican Runs 4.595/326.95, Now #14; Best prior run: 4.647/327.74, Was #17

That was a very good side by side and in fact is a career best for Bruce Litton.

Bazemore is on the bump and he's already run this session.

Left Lane: Cory McClenathan Runs 4.544/281.54, Now #9; Best prior run: 4.915/217.32, Was #21
Right Lane: Brandon Bernstein Runs 4.568/324.36, Now #11; Best prior run: 4.823/222.95, Was #20

Crazy things always happen at Indy. For instance, neither of these cars are close to being qualified right now. They need to run better than a 4.601.

That's not a problem in either lane. Cory's flames go out a bit early and the trucks roll in his lane. McClenathan is out of freebies, so this is going to hit him in the points and in the pocketbook.

Bazemore's outta here, by the way.

Clay Millican takes over the bump spot at 4.595.

Left Lane: David Grubnic Runs 4.575/322.50, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.523/329.91, Was #5
Right Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 4.561/308.92, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.565/315.19, Was #10

8:06 p.m. That was a pretty good cleanup and once again, the Safety Safari doesn't get nearly the credit nor money they deserve for their hard, sweaty, strenuous, expert work.

Herbert's engine goes dead at 1100 feet and he trails heavy smoke through the shutdown area.

Left Lane: Rod Fuller Runs 4.706/239.14, Now #6; Best prior run: 4.524/325.85, Was #6
Right Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 4.494/330.23, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.477/333.66, Was #1

Even with all the smoke, the right lane is clean and we fire the next pair.

The black and yellow scheme of the CAT car is one of the best looking out here. By the way, here's a big welcome to the Cat Dealers! We're glad you're here and hope you'll find how powerful drag racing can really be.

Fuller's car gets to about 2/3 track and suddenly the flames go out in an instant. We see a flicker of flames below the car but they go away quickly.

Schumacher runs another 4.40 just like it was easy.

Left Lane: Hillary Will Runs 4.553/329.83, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.587/322.65, Was #14
Right Lane: Bob Vandergriff Runs 11.600/81.87, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.513/329.91, Was #3

We've got another one of those colorful Midwest sunsets as the final pair of TF cars back up from their burnouts. The Musco lights are on and warming up.

Vandergriff hoists the wheels and starts boiling the tires a moment later. Hillary streaks down the left lane and moves up four spots in the order.

We finish the session with the Army team on top and Millican holding on to the 16th spot with a 4.595.

8:16 p.m.

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink

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