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Sun, 2 Sep 2001, 01:22 PM

INDY - Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Session #4
By Michael L. Jex

It's A "BIG" Day In Indy

CLERMONT, Ind. - Notes from round 4 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:

Left Lane: Bobby Lagana Jr Runs 8.373/99.06, Now #20; Best prior run: 9.734/90.78, Was #21

Lagana's team had a very unusual event last night in round three of qualifying. During the burnout they broke a valve. The broken valve allowed the boost from the supercharger to go down into the oil pan, which then pumped all the oil all over the motor - through the cylinders, which resulted in thick clouds of smoke coming out all eight cylinders. Fortunately it didn't cause a huge amount of damage.

This time the burnout was a non event. The car went forward, but never got up on the tire. So Bobby staged the car with out a burnout.

At the hit the car was lazy from the start with a 1.054 60-foot time. It dropped a cylinder, then lost a blower belt....

The team will get one more chance to make the field.

Left Lane: Tim Gibson Runs 6.038/142.40, Now #7; Best prior run: 4.597/316.75, Was #7
Right Lane: Paul Romine Runs 4.696/282.90, Now #12; Best prior run: 4.688/320.28, Was #12

With the heat and sunshine it won't be easy to get into the top sixteen if you are not already a member. The bump is currently a 4.757 held by Joe Hartley.

Romine lays down the first full track pass of the session - .867 short time, the Carquest machine was going 261.88 mph at half-track. Gibson lost traction about 400 feet out.

Left Lane: Don Garlits Runs 4.720/303.37, Now #14; Best prior run: 5.322/190.46, Was #19
Right Lane: Chris Karamesines Runs 4.841/301.81, Now #18; Best prior run: 9.429/84.99, Was #21

Will it happen? Can it happen?

YES!!! The Crowd erupts, the pressroom erupts, there's nothing but smiles and cheers all over IRP! For the first time in his storied career Don Garlits makes a pass under five seconds over 300 mph. Even better the time is good enough to move him into the field. It wasn't easy, the car was all over the track, moving back and forth from side to side. Many drivers wouldn't have been able to handle all the motioncommotion! WOW!

Left Lane: Andrew Cowin Runs 4.696/300.40, Now #9; Best prior run: 4.606/319.82, Was #9
Right Lane: Luigi Novelli Runs 4.848/304.05, Now #19; Best prior run: 4.857/300.86, Was #19

Cowin and Novelli put on a similar show - good starts, then hang on when the big Goodyear slicks start to lose traction at the top end of the track. The runs were good for the conditions, but honestly -

Don Garlits went the quickest and fastest of his life just a minute ago and the crowd is still buzzing! Garlits just got on Winston Vision telling everyone "You have no idea who fast that finish line comes up!", which brought the crowd to its feet with wild cheers and whistles again.

Left Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 4.577/318.24, Now #4; Best prior run: 4.585/316.97, Was #4
Right Lane: Rhonda Hartman-Smith Runs 5.771/156.08, Now #20; Best prior run: 4.921/231.91, Was #20

The bump is now Bruce Litton with a 4.736. Garlits bumped out Joe Hartley earlier.

Dick LaHaie made the following comment about the run: "We better get serious about it. This is what we'll be racing in." Nice run for the Miller car - .854 to 60-feet, the big hemi kept all eight candles lit all the way to the finish line.

Watch out - Dixon will be tough tomorrow...

Left Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 4.610/319.82, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.701/265.48, Was #13
Right Lane: Bruce Litton Runs 4.674/316.97, Now #13; Best prior run: 4.736/313.51, Was #16

A cloud has covered the sun for a few minutes, perhaps it helped this pair of cars. Herbert lead from start to finish, but both runs went right down the middle of their lanes. Both move up three spots, moving Don Garlits down to the 15th spot.

Left Lane: Joe Hartley Runs 4.812/309.34, Now #17; Best prior run: 4.757/294.95, Was #17
Right Lane: Shirley Muldowney Runs 4.867/313.00, Now #12; Best prior run: 4.647/319.98, Was #12

Shirley dropped a cylinder at the start. The loss of 700 plus horsepower came back in the middle of the track, but it was too late to help her move up the ladder. Hartley's run looked clean, just a tad too conservative.

Left Lane: Scott Weis Runs 5.663/166.07, Now #16; Best prior run: 4.732/316.67, Was #16
Right Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 4.674/317.94, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.605/318.77, Was #8

Weiss had a shot to move up - .872 to sixty, but things started going away after that. At half track he was going just 217.49 mph. By the 1000 foot mark he was coasting, watching Schumacher's Army machine disappear in the distance.

Left Lane: David Grubnic Runs 7.333/102.87, Now #11; Best prior run: 4.618/315.64, Was #11
Right Lane: Gary Scelzi Runs 6.224/134.28, Now #6; Best prior run: 4.592/273.77, Was #6

As Grubnic and Scelzi were getting ready to run, Don Garlits made his way down the return road. As he came near the starting area Connie Kalitta and Jerry Gywnn went over to congratulate him. The crowd? On their feet cheering and enjoying what will likely be one of the more memorable moments this weekend.

But we digress. Back to the action.

Smokefest! Both drivers lost traction right at the 330-foot mark, and clicked it off.

Left Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 4.626/287.41, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.555/316.82, Was #3
Right Lane: Darrell Russell Runs 4.617/321.35, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.591/322.34, Was #5

Kalitta got quite a ride in the MAC Tools machine. Russell went by him at the very end of the track, but all eyes were looking at Kalitta's .848 60-foot time and wondering how they stayed glued to the track. Nice runs for both cars.

Left Lane: Mike Dunn Runs 10.446/84.12, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.530/327.82, Was #2
Right Lane: Kenny Bernstein Runs 4.642/319.29, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.505/323.74, Was #1

Tim Richards and Kenny Bernstein show a little of their race-day deck of cards with a great run right down the middle of the lane. Dunn went up in smoke almost immediately.

So with just one round to go The Bud King remains on top, Scott Weis is on the bubble. Most of all this 4th round of qualifying at the 47th US Nationals will be remembered in the record books as the time and place where Big Daddy went into the four second zone and over 300 mph for the first time.

What will this evening bring? Stay Tuned!

Timing data courtesy of CompuLink

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