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Sat, 6 Sep 2003, 07:43 PM

Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Final Session
By Keith Burgan

CLERMONT, Ind. - Notes from final, round 5 qualifying in Top Fuel at the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, 49th 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: Luigi Novelli Runs 4.716/312.93, Now #18; Best prior run: 4.880/292.33, Was #22
Right Lane: Shirley Muldowney Runs 4.767/295.85, Now #21; Best prior run: 5.372/175.89, Was #25

Muldowney's run did not look good enough to make the show with a little weave before half track and some ugly flames on the top end and even though she finally ran in the fours it was not enough. Novelli actually came closer to making the cut as he made a career best pass but he too will be watching tomorrow..

Left Lane: Mitch King Runs 4.683/312.64, Now #15; Best prior run: 4.850/299.66, Was #23
Right Lane: Joe Hartley Runs 10.117/94.35, Now #24; Best prior run: 4.909/245.99, Was #24

Hartley has problems right from the hit but King runs a career best to move into the #15 spot and bump the absent Litton.

Left Lane: Don Garlits Runs 4.776/310.91, Now #23; Best prior run: 4.805/310.77, Was #23
Right Lane: Scott Palmer Runs 4.766/273.22, Now #20; Best prior run: 4.723/307.58, Was #20

Garlits made his best run of the event here but it was not enough with the bump now at 4.700. Palmer's early numbers were good but he slowed on the top end and failed to match his earlier pace.

Left Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 4.704/298.80, Now #17; Best prior run: 4.733/299.53, Was #21
Right Lane: Darrell Russell Runs 4.568/320.36, Now #9; Best prior run: 4.643/319.07, Was #13

After struggling prior to today Russell has put down a pair of good laps and this one moved him off the unlucky # 13 spot. Herbert appeared to "slap" the pedal just off the line and the car definitely got up on the tires and began hauling but then it slowed on the top end and the fact that the clean up trucks are rolling confirms that the motor was going away. Doug's 4.704 left him just 4 thousandths short of the cut.

Current weather conditions:78 degrees, 46 percent relative humidity, the barometer 30.08 inches, with a track temperature of 98 degrees at 6:04 pm.

Left Lane: Jim Head Runs 4.639/321.58, Now #14; Best prior run: 4.710/309.98, Was #19
Right Lane: Scott Weis Runs 4.777/290.94, Now #13; Best prior run: 4.634/312.57, Was #13

This run by Jim Head just made this the quickest field ever, topping the previous best 4.694. Now both fuel car fields are the quickest ever. Weis fell of his earlier pace as the Race Girl entry slowed on the top end

Right Lane: David Grubnic Runs 4.680/307.72, Now #12; Best prior run: 4.633/321.42, Was #12

Aussie Dave stays where he was as the BME car leaves a haze of smoke in the traps but does not oil the track.

Left Lane: Tim Gibson Runs 4.902/235.51, Now #17; Best prior run: 4.700/308.78, Was #17
Right Lane: John Smith Runs 4.752/252.76, Now #11; Best prior run: 4.611/317.87, Was #11

Tim Gibson appeared to have a chance of bumping Mitch King but the Stevens Family entry slowed at half track. Smith also had problems and fell off the pace after running 260 mph at the eighth mile clocks.

Left Lane: Paul Romine Runs 6.458/127.05, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.563/299.26, Was #8
Right Lane: Rhonda Hartman-Smith Runs 4.631/315.19, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.599/311.13, Was #10

Romine's Carquest entry was slow from the get go and by half track the back of the car was engulfed in flames. Once again the clean up trucks are rolling but this time it is simply the vacuum units sweeping for possible debris. Rhonda put down yet another stellar run, her fourth of this race.

Left Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 4.511/317.94, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.534/311.05, Was #5
Right Lane: Kenny Bernstein Runs 4.518/325.45, Now #4; Best prior run: 4.549/325.61, Was #6

The fans liked this one with side by side 4.51's. That moved Kalitta up to third and Bernstein to fourth bumping Dixon and Schumacher down.The run was the best of the season for Kenny since he resumed the driving chores in the Bud car.

Left Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 4.564/322.11, Now #6; Best prior run: 4.534/322.50, Was #6
Right Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 4.547/326.32, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.530/326.08, Was #5

More 4.5s but the numbers were not as good as the previous pair and Dixon will stay 5th with Schumacher just one spot back.

Left Lane: David Baca Runs 5.633/161.52, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.499/324.51, Was #1
Right Lane: Scott Kalitta Runs 4.502/326.56, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.503/327.51, Was #2

Scott Kalitta may have been on his way to the best run of the event as the Jesse James entry began pumping out ugly flames in the back half after equally cousin Doug's early numbers. The mph was still up so whatever was causing the flames obviously did not have a major effect but equally obviously the motor was not happy. Baca puffed the tires just past the 330 clocks and shut off.

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink

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