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Fri, 5 Sep 2003, 09:13 PM

Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Session #3
By Keith Burgan

CLERMONT, Ind. - Notes from round 3 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:
Right Lane: Joe Hartley Runs 4.909/245.99, Now #19; Best prior run: 16.386/26.11, Was #25

Although the header flames turned green on the top end Hartley got from A to B this time after failing to make a representative pass last weekend. He is still outside the show but at least appears to have a chance to make the cut tomorrow.

Left Lane: Tim Gibson Runs 11.696/81.04, Now #24; Best prior run: 5.260/191.54, Was #24
Right Lane: Scott Kalitta Runs 4.503/327.51, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.598/320.36, Was #7

Scott Kalitta fires off a big shot with a career best in both speed and elapsed time to move to the top of the order while Gibson lifts as the George Thorogood car launches wheels up and climbs.

Left Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 4.534/311.05, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.555/327.03, Was #4
Right Lane: Shirley Muldowney No Time, Now #25; Best prior run: 5.372/175.89, Was #25

Despite firing some ugly green flames out of the pipes from the 1000' mark and slowing in the traps Kalitta still manages to move up a spot while Muldowney carries the wheels for a long time before crossing the centerline.

Left Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 4.534/322.50, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.566/324.75, Was #5
Right Lane: Chris Vandergriff Runs 5.512/158.41, Now #22; Best prior run: 5.163/183.94, Was #22

Schumacher's desert camouflage Army dragster picks up 3 hundredths over his previous best and as a consequence moves up two places in the order while Vandergriff's run got ugly on the top end after a promising start. The trucks are rolling for a clean up in the shut down area.

Right Lane: Scott Palmer Runs 4.954/249.90, Now #21; Best prior run: 4.957/264.60, Was #21

Palmer has problems from the 1000' foot mark on after reasonable early numbers and virtually repeats his second round qualifying run to stay 21st in the order.

Left Lane: Don Garlits Runs 4.805/310.77, Now #18; Best prior run: 5.169/250.88, Was #23
Right Lane: David Grubnic Runs 4.633/321.42, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.806/303.03, Was #17

The BME entry steps up and Grubnic is now in the top half with a pretty run. Garlits also went A to B with flames up to the wing through the traps this time but fell short of the bump by 7 hundredths.

Left Lane: Mitch King Runs 4.850/299.66, Now #19; Best prior run: 4.944/246.30, Was #21
Right Lane: Darrell Russell Runs 4.761/300.40, Now #15; Best prior run: 4.723/304.25, Was #15

Russell again has problems and stays 15th while putting some "stuff" on the track. With Paul Smith assisting on the tune-up King picked up nearly a tenth but is still on the outside looking in with two runs to go. This one may take a while as the truck is making a second pass with the rice hull ash and all of the clean up equipment is on the track.

Left Lane: Luigi Novelli Runs 4.880/292.33, Now #20; Best prior run: 4.893/299.20, Was #20
Right Lane: John Smith Runs 4.611/317.87, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.714/310.34, Was #14

7:28 The clean up took 18 minutes and extended to both lanes from the 1000 foot clocks. Novelli needed a career best to make the cut here but did not get it while Smith was clean and dry all the way to round out the top half of the field for now.

Left Lane: Jim Head Runs 4.710/309.98, Now #15; Best prior run: 4.741/294.50, Was #17
Right Lane: Kenny Bernstein Runs 4.637/314.39, Now #11; Best prior run: 4.696/310.77, Was #13

Both cars had flames up to the wings but Bernstein had the better numbers to move up a couple of spots while Head also improved to put Russell on the bump spot and knock Herbert out of the show.

Left Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 4.777/252.85, Now #17; Best prior run: 4.733/299.53, Was #17
Right Lane: Scott Weis Runs 4.634/312.57, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.682/309.98, Was #13

Weis made his third straight 4.6 run at this event and moved up 3 places in the order. Herbert also looked to have a good run going and was quicker than Weis to the 1000' clocks but a shower of sparks at that point indicated trouble and he failed to get back in the show.

Right Lane: Rhonda Hartman-Smith Runs 4.599/311.13, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.635/305.08, Was #11

Rhonda puts down a good one with the flames tall and clean all the way and in the process she moves up to the top half of the field as we are now racing for position with the remaining cars all in the show. It now takes a 4.5 to make the quick half of the field.

Left Lane: Paul Romine Runs 4.563/299.26, Now #7; Best prior run: 4.578/306.60, Was #6
Right Lane: Cory McClenathan Runs 4.558/318.99, Now #6; Best prior run: 4.591/282.90, Was #7

Wow! Jimmy Walsh has the Carrier Boys car honking as Romine runs another career best but swaps places with Cory Mac as the Gwynn car runs even faster.

Left Lane: David Baca Runs 4.499/324.51, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.504/326.32, Was #2
Right Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 4.530/326.08, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.537/319.29, Was #5

Wow! again. Dixon leaves with the wheels in the air but Baca drives around him by the 330' clocks and is on his way to yet another new track record as Johnny West again hits it just right in the tune-up. Dixon picked up a full 2 hundredths over his previous best but is still only third in the order in what is one of the stout est fields ever here at Indy, especially in the top half.

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink

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