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Sat, 2 Oct 1999, 07:17 PM

TOPEKA - Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Final Session
By Ed Dykes

Fifties Are Cheap, Here

TOPEKA, Kan. - Notes from final, round 4 qualifying in Top Fuel at the 11th annual Advance Auto Parts 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: Paul Romine Runs 4.718/304.60, Now #12; Best prior run: 4.939/221.67, Was #18
Right Lane: Allen Hartley Runs 5.265/198.12, Now #20; Best prior run: 9.653/88.66, Was #20

5:26 PM as we roll into the weekend's final pro category qualifying session. The sun is out and warming the race track, just what these guys were looking for. Team Winston continues to thrash on their crashed car, in hopes that they can repair it in time for tomorrow's eliminations; they've borrowed Schumacher's show car trailer to transport it over to nearby Neil & Parks chassis shop where Brad Hadman and the crew will burn the midnight oil to weld on a new front and back end.

Here's Hartley's machine got the front tires up in the air, drifted right, and got very close to the wall before he manhandled it back into the center of the lane. But all that time out of the groove got the rear tires spinning, and that spelled the end for his qualifying hopes. Meanwhile, Romine's engine went boom at 700', and that calls out the Safety Safari for their gala oildry parade.

Left Lane: Tim Gibson Runs 4.806/296.18, Now #18; Best prior run: 4.831/298.80, Was #18
Right Lane: Scott Kalitta Runs 9.249/77.81, Now #19; Best prior run: 5.193/185.64, Was #19

Kalitta needed to better Grubnic's 4.766 to run tomorrow, and he doesn't make it, up in smoke early here. Gibson hazed the tires at half track, pedalled, and got back onto the throttle to turn in his best run of the weekend, but still not enough to put the BME dragster into the show.

Left Lane: Bob Vandergriff Runs 10.641/72.02, Now #17; Best prior run: 4.797/289.01, Was #17
Right Lane: David Grubnic Runs 4.864/281.89, Now #16; Best prior run: 4.766/270.16, Was #16

Vandergriff shook, pedalled, and then the engine went silent. I can't imagine he shut it off, more likely the throttle cable or something related did him in, and he'll DNQ for only the second time all year. He's been in the thick of the points battle, and this does not bode well for moving him up into the top five. From the top end, a very dejected Vandergriff says, "No reason to sugar coat it, we just stunk up the place all weekend."

Left Lane: Randy Parks Runs 6.756/117.43, Now #15; Best prior run: 4.759/307.72, Was #15
Right Lane: Jim Head Runs 4.769/303.71, Now #11; Best prior run: 4.697/314.39, Was #11

Parks' Fluke car just quits at 300', while Head motors on thru in the CSK dragster. No indication what happened to the Parks machine, it just went silent.

Left Lane: Cory McClenathan Runs 4.650/323.27, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.732/316.82, Was #13
Right Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 11.458/79.87, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.691/297.88, Was #9

This is Dick LaHaie's first weekend as Crew Chief on the Miller car, and he opted to pass on this morning's session, given the nasty weather conditions and the fact that they were scheduled to be in the first pair of nitro cars down the track. Looks like they needed the practice, the car up in smoke early here. Cory Mac puts the MBNA dragster into the top half of the show with a stellar pass, the second fastest of the weekend.

Left Lane: Andrew Cowin Runs 4.588/313.58, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.692/307.23, Was #11
Right Lane: Mike Dunn Runs 14.394/72.32, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.672/310.27, Was #9

Dunn smokes the tires, while Cowin makes it look easy, straight down the center of the lane and up into the number five slot.

Left Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 4.539/321.96, Now #4; Best prior run: 4.638/310.41, Was #7
Right Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 4.669/313.15, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.641/318.99, Was #8

Kalitta ignores the problems of his teammate's car and moves right up the ladder, leaping ahead of Bernstein, Cowin, and Schumacher, while Herbert cards a solid run -- his fourth of the weekend -- but fails to improve.

Left Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 4.555/327.90, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.623/319.14, Was #7
Right Lane: Kenny Bernstein Runs 10.206/78.01, Now #6; Best prior run: 4.569/312.71, Was #5

The Bud King goes up in smoke while Schumacher goes up the ladder, setting the Top Speed mark so far and moving ahead of Cowin and Bernstein on the ladder. Now the top seven cars are in the fifties, here.

Left Lane: Eddie Hill Runs 10.679/81.83, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.520/323.74, Was #1
Right Lane: Joe Amato Runs 8.576/95.67, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.538/322.11, Was #3

Both cars rattled the tires and the drivers responded by stepping off and staying off the throttle, so that's the last of Top Fuel qualifying this weekend. It's going to be Hill against Grubnic tomorrow, #1 vs. #16.

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