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Sun, 2 Sep 2001, 05:37 PM

INDY - Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Final Session
By Michael L. Jex

Rookies, Legends, Yankees, Racing!

CLERMONT, Ind. - Notes from final, round 5 qualifying in Top Fuel at the 47th 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: Bobby Lagana Jr Runs 8.142/99.85, Now #21; Best prior run: 8.373/99.06, Was #21

5:47 PM Frank Pedregon just came into the pressroom - his Budweiser shootout smile can be seen for miles! Congrats to Frank and the rest of the CSK team. Lagana is down to one shot to make the field - He needs to run better than a 4.732 to get into the program. Scott Weis is on the bubble.

Too bad for Lagana - he dropped at least a couple of cylinders had no choice but to lift before the motor blew up. His weekend is done.

Left Lane: Rhonda Hartman-Smith Runs 7.212/120.20, Now #20; Best prior run: 4.921/231.91, Was #20
Right Lane: Joe Hartley Runs 4.771/298.14, Now #17; Best prior run: 4.757/294.95, Was #17

Don Garlits is number fifteen. Neither of these drivers are in the field...

Rhonda's run was over early. After an agressive .876 60-foot time the Goodyear slicks had enough and let loose with a ton of tire smoke. Hartley came to the line agressive as well, his short time was .874. He dropped a cylinder at the top end, otherwise he may have had a chance to bump out Weis.

Just three more drivers can bump people out of the program, and two are in the next pair...

Left Lane: Luigi Novelli Runs 6.404/139.59, Now #19; Best prior run: 4.848/304.05, Was #19
Right Lane: Scott Weis Runs 4.746/314.39, Now #16; Best prior run: 4.732/316.67, Was #16

When Novelli's motor started eating itself the crowd actually cheered, everyone wanting to see "Big" in the program tomorrow. Word comes that Karamesines will not run due to a lack of parts, so Don Garlits spot in the field tomorrow is guaranteed.

Left Lane: Paul Romine Runs 4.783/301.60, Now #14; Best prior run: 4.688/320.28, Was #14
Right Lane: David Grubnic Runs 5.791/147.23, Now #11; Best prior run: 4.618/315.64, Was #11

Don Garlits just pulled out of the staging lanes - they have decided to keep the 15th spot and save parts this evening. Right now Don would run Mike Dunn in round one eliminations tomorrow, IF things stay as they are.

Grubnic started hazing the tires in the middle of the track, then lifted. Romine's run was clean, the team gathering data for tomorrows racing.

Left Lane: Bruce Litton Runs 4.707/315.78, Now #13; Best prior run: 4.674/316.97, Was #13
Right Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 4.630/317.19, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.610/319.82, Was #10

Herbert has been testing a new blower this weekend, but had old reliable on last session. Litton's run was rather conservative with a .880 short time compared to Herbert's .866. Both drivers kept all the candles lit to the finish, and look ready to go tomorrow morning.

Left Lane: Shirley Muldowney Runs 4.740/302.28, Now #12; Best prior run: 4.647/319.98, Was #12
Right Lane: Andrew Cowin Runs 7.758/96.73, Now #9; Best prior run: 4.606/319.82, Was #9

Shirley's run was clean and straight - right down the middle of the lane. Cowin lost traction just past the 330-foot timers. Andrew pedaled it, but the big Goodyears didn't hook up very well so he aborted the run.

Left Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 4.626/318.77, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.605/318.77, Was #8
Right Lane: Tim Gibson Runs 4.678/275.51, Now #7; Best prior run: 4.597/316.75, Was #7

Gibson was moving around as the car went down track, but he a pretty good lap going. his halftrack time was 3.120, the best of the session so far, but he had something go away at the top end of the track. Tony's car has been very consistent this weekend, the 2000 Indy champ will be tough tomorrow.

Left Lane: Gary Scelzi Runs 8.923/83.59, Now #6; Best prior run: 4.592/273.77, Was #6
Right Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 4.568/314.83, Now #4; Best prior run: 4.577/318.24, Was #4

Last round Dick LaHaie said it was time to get serious - now he must be getting very serious indeed. That's the baddest most consistent hotrod in the class so far this weekend, nice pass for the Miller car. Scelzi was trailing at every incremental - then lost traction just before the 330-foot markers.

Left Lane: Darrell Russell Runs 4.633/320.43, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.591/322.34, Was #5
Right Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 4.750/240.85, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.555/316.82, Was #3

Kalitta is running a new carbon fiber injector hat this round from a company in Australia. Looks like it may have been a bit lean on the top end of the track, Kalitta left a flash of smoke at the top end of the track, looks like they sacrificed some Aluminum at the finish line.

Left Lane: Kenny Bernstein Runs 4.728/307.37, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.505/323.74, Was #1
Right Lane: Mike Dunn Runs 4.588/319.52, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.530/327.82, Was #2

The track temp is now 102 degrees, quite a bit cooler than at the beginning of the session. It's only for bragging rights, but after that run Darrell Gywnn had a big smile on his face. Dunn's half track speed was 271.08 mph, one of the best halftrack speeds of the weekend.

So qualifying ends with two living legends in the field, and Kenny Bernstein is our number one qualifier. Kenny will race Scott Weis in round one. Dunn will get the chance of his life - racing Don Garlits tomorrow morning.

The other matchups are thus - Doug Kalitta will race Paul Romine, Larry Dixon will race Bruce Litton, Rookie Darrell Russell and Shirley Muldowney will square off, Gary Scelzi will begin his day by racing David Grubnic, Tim Gibson and and and Doug Herbert will face each other, and in the number 8 and 9 spots are Tony Schumacher and the Aussie Andrew Cowin. One can't help but wonder how well Dunn and Russell will sleep tonight. Garlits and Muldowney are on opposite sides of the ladder, so any race between them will be for big bucks -

The final round.

See you tomorrow! 6:23 PM

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink

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