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Fri, 1 Oct 1999, 06:04 PM

TOPEKA - Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Session #1
By Ed Dykes

Three Cheers for the Old Guy

TOPEKA, Kan. - Notes from round 1 qualifying in Top Fuel at the 11th annual Advance Auto Parts Nationals listing lane, driver name, elapsed time, top speed, and position in order following run:
Left Lane: Tim Gibson Runs 4.831/298.80, Now #1
Right Lane: Mike Smith Runs 9.047/88.38, Now #2

4:17 PM as we start the first nitro digger round of the weekend. Not a cloud in sight, but wind continues to blow right up the racetrack, a direct headwind of 10-15 mph with gusts up to 20. Smith smoked and shook the tires early, here, while Gibson had a dead cylinder on the left side right from the start.

Left Lane: Andrew Cowin Runs 5.347/175.41, Now #2
Right Lane: Allen Hartley No Time, Now #4

Hartley has something wrong on the car and starter Rick Stewart signals him to shut off before he has a chance to roll up and stage. Cowin was on a bear of a lap, a 0.840 60' one of the best you'll see, when the blower belt departs the engine right about 400' off the line. That's gotta be a huge disappointment, considering the interval times to that point.

Left Lane: Paul Romine Runs 5.442/171.84, Now #4
Right Lane: Scott Kalitta Runs 5.193/185.64, Now #2

If you haven't heard, CARQUEST has renewed Romine's contract for three more years, giving the Indy engine builder some real security. Both these guys smoked the tires at the same time, just about half track, where they were on a pair of killer passes up to that point. Scott had a 0.833 in 60' and a 2.10 to 330', just about as good as you'd want, and Romine was just a couple thousandths behind.

Left Lane: Randy Parks Runs 4.820/279.15, Now #1
Right Lane: David Grubnic Runs 4.876/274.39, Now #3

Both engines gave up early, here, with Parks quicker off the line then softer in the middle of the track while Grubnic was more aggressive initially then quicker from 330' to 1000'.

Left Lane: Eddie Hill Runs 4.552/316.82, Now #1
Right Lane: Jim Head Runs 4.766/301.13, Now #2

Hill stands 'em on their ear as he moves to the top of the order, with the first 'fifty of the weekend. Awesome, Pennzoil dude. Not a bad pass for Head, either...

Left Lane: Bob Vandergriff Runs 16.999/53.98, Now #11
Right Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 4.983/218.09, Now #6

Vandergriff's rear tires were smoking before the front end reached the Christmas tree, here.

Left Lane: Cory McClenathan Runs 5.828/142.06, Now #11
Right Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 4.691/297.88, Now #2

Rick Cassel, who was co-crew chief on Cory Mac's MBNA car, resigned as of today, leaving Jim Brissette as the lone crew chief now. Cassel had been on the team since June, after leading Vandergriff's team last year. Here, the car shook hard enough that the parachute dropped out at 300', leaving Cory Mac with a bunch of extra drag as he motored to the finish. Dixon's run was not as eventful, except for at the end where the engine went boom and sent the Safety Safari heading out for the cleanup, past the finish line.

Left Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 4.638/310.41, Now #2
Right Lane: Kenny Bernstein Runs 4.798/294.88, Now #5

Kalitta lights 'em up on the top end, flames out of the headers on both sides. And we're not talking the strong blue flames they like, these were the lazy yellow flames you'd rather see in your fireplace. Still he managed a respectable e.t., enough to move right in behind Hill. Bernstein was on a decent pass until he blazed the tires from 400' to about 800', killing any chance he had of outrunning the leaders.

Left Lane: Gary Scelzi Runs 4.595/315.86, Now #2
Right Lane: Mike Dunn Runs 4.763/269.94, Now #5

Dunn earned his money on this lap, the front end up in the air then the car bounced around pretty hard when it came down. But Mike stayed with it for as long as he could, and ended up just ahead of Head and Bernstein. The Team Winston machine was set up pretty safe this lap, and Hill remains on the top of the pack.

Left Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 4.623/319.14, Now #3
Right Lane: Joe Amato Runs 4.641/313.51, Now #5

A couple of nice runs to end the round, so after one it's Eddie Hill atop the field and Paul Romine in the sixteenth spot.

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