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Fri, Nov 13, 08:17 PM

POMONA - Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Session # 2
By Larry Sullivan

Scelzi Moves to the Top

POMONA, Calif. - Notes from round 2 qualifying in Top Fuel at the 34th annual NHRA Winston Finals, 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: Bruce Sarver Runs 5.035/280.54 Now #14, (Best prior run: 5.258/185.26 Was #15)
Right Lane: Terry Mullins Runs 4.674/314.90 Now # 4, (Best prior run: 4.706/306.43 Was # 7)

4:25 PM Today the dragsters will have to cope with the rapidly cooling track surface as the shadows move across the track. Last night the Funny Cars had problems getting hold of the track. Mullins had no problem, a career best run, both ET and speed. Sarver did, however, pedaling once about 200 feet out and then pushing out a head gasket as the tires began to spin in the top end.

Left Lane: Shelly Anderson Runs 10.137/ 85.68 Now #16, (Best prior run: 5.729/157.15 Was #16)
Right Lane: Allen Hartley Runs 10.181/ 85.77 Now #19, (Best prior run: 16.451/ 74.57 Was #22)

Hartley has had problems transitioning to the blown fuel car, and it continued here, the car losing traction in the first 100 feet. Shelly also continued her trouble-plagued season, the engine silent before she went 100 feet.

Left Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 10.635/ 86.95 Now # 8, (Best prior run: 4.748/294.31 Was # 8)
Right Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 5.292/185.33 Now # 6, (Best prior run: 4.693/302.62 Was # 6)

Herbert's performance has been steadily improving every race, as has Schumacher's. However, Herbert hasn't been hurting parts, while Schumacher has flamed the engine on almost every run lately. Here Herbert lost traction almost immediately, while Schumacher once again torched the engine, with a flash of flame as he pushed the head gasket out at 300 feet and then a huge fireball at half track when the escaping flames torched through some fuel lines. The fireball was so big that the chute packs started burning. The chute packs continued to burn as he brought it to a stop and the Safety Safari had to hose them down to put the fire out.

Left Lane: Connie Kalitta Runs 9.792/ 88.48 Now #19, (Best prior run: 10.920/ 75.05 Was #20)
Right Lane: Jim Head Runs 9.486/ 95.35 Now #10, (Best prior run: 4.817/292.87 Was #10)

Oh yeah, the bump spot is currently Shelly Anderson's 5.729 from yesterday. The track is now completely in shadow - and just like last night, the traction appears to be fading fast, Kalitta shaking hard while Head smokes the tires hard.

Left Lane: Joe Amato Runs 4.655/303.74 Now # 4, (Best prior run: 8.565/ 96.03 Was #17)
Right Lane: Bob Vandergriff Runs 4.948/215.15 Now #10, (Best prior run: 4.758/271.82 Was # 9)

That was one of the crookedest runs Amato has made in many races , the front end of the car in the air for a long time and wandering back and forth. But the header flames were strong and steady, probably an advance look at his tuneup for the first round of the Big Bud Shootout tomorrow - a race nicknamed "The Joe Amato Benefit." Vandergriff started strong, but his engine hurt itself at half track and the Safety Safari rolled to clean up oil in the shutdown area of the right lane.

Left Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 7.278/114.69 Now # 1, (Best prior run: 4.580/313.69 Was # 1)
Right Lane: Cory McClenathan Runs 5.171/190.75 Now #14, (Best prior run: 4.982/223.04 Was #14)

Kalitta pedaled the car several times, trying to get the front wheels back down from a three-foot wheelie, finally giving up around half track. Cory Mac was on a strong pass, but the engine started eating itself at half track and he shut it off around 1,000 feet.

Left Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 9.506/ 69.15 Now #19, (Best prior run: 11.891/ 77.04 Was #21)
Right Lane: Mike Dunn Runs 4.709/247.38 Now # 3, (Best prior run: 4.637/310.77 Was # 3)

Dixon had problems early, starting to smoke the tires and shutting it off. Dunn kicked a rod out around the 1,000-foot marker, the engine burning briskly with oil everywhere. Then when he tried to stop, the brakes didn't work very well and he ended up driving it off the end of the track, into the sand. No major damage, but the car will need a wash job before tomorrow.

Left Lane: Eddie Hill Runs 4.633/304.15 Now # 4, (Best prior run: 8.959/ 84.25 Was #18)
Right Lane: Gary Scelzi Runs 4.548/323.85 Now # 1, (Best prior run: 4.678/314.90 Was # 6)

As hard as it is to believe, Scelzi's engine was eating itself on the top end of this run, yet he still had enough "smash" (fighter pilot slang for momentum) to reset both ends of the track record, easily beating Joe Amato's 4.558 from last year and Kenny Bernstein's 320.74 from the Winternationals. Hill's run was no slouch, but he looked like he was standing still.

Left Lane: Spike Gorr Runs 15.390/ 56.26 Now #17, (Best prior run: 5.202/247.45 Was #17)
Right Lane: Kenny Bernstein Runs 4.650/313.58 Now # 6, (Best prior run: 4.703/305.70 Was # 9)

Gore lost traction almost immediately. Bernstein's run put Scelzi's effort in perspective, a pretty pass with just a trace of tire spin on the top end - and he's a tenth of a second and 10 mph slower than Scelzi. Team Winston has certainly earned the championship in dominant form after struggling early in the season.

Left Lane: Don Lampus Runs 4.770/304.67 Now #12, (Best prior run: 4.826/302.01 Was #13)
Right Lane: Ray Stutz Runs 10.648/ 86.32 Now #22, (Best prior run: 13.774/ 69.78 Was #22)

Lampus continues to show steady improvement too, a nice, clean pass.

Stutz lost traction in the first 100 feet and shut it off.

Left Lane: Cristen Powell Runs 4.894/231.66 Now # 3, (Best prior run: 4.615/305.70 Was # 3)
Right Lane: Bobby Baldwin Runs 11.880/ 80.14 Now #14, (Best prior run: 4.877/286.25 Was #14)

This afternoon it was announced that Andy Evans had sold the Reebok/Sequent/Royal Purple race team to Roy Hill - yes, that Roy Hill, Pro Stock Truck driver and driving school operator. Powell will be the driver again next year, with Bill Schultz and Mark Oswald as crew chiefs.

Here Cristen pedaled it right off the starting line, getting the tires hooked back up, but the engine let go in a flash of flame at 1,000 feet, sending the blower belt sailing. Baldwin lost traction almost immediately.

That's it for now, Scelzi on the pole and Sarver on the bubble.

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