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Sat, 9 Oct 1999, 07:34 PM

MEMPHIS - Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Session #1
By Dave Rowe

The Track Comes Around

MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Notes from round 1 qualifying in Top Fuel at the 12th annual AutoZone Nationals presented by Pennzoil listing lane, driver name, elapsed time, top speed, and position in order following run:
Right Lane: Luigi Novelli Runs 5.031/223.88, Now #1

5:45 PM We finally get started on our first round of qualifying in Top Fuel. Novelli starts the round with a single run. He gets out around 300' and the engine fireballs.

Left Lane: Mike Smith Runs 4.722/309.34, Now #1
Right Lane: Terry Mullins Runs 4.758/268.44, Now #2

Luckily there was no cleanup needed after Novelli's engine exploded. Both these cars make good runs. These cars are probably running a little soft, not knowing for certain if they will get another chance to qualify.

Left Lane: Scott Kalitta Runs 4.592/313.73, Now #1
Right Lane: Paul Romine Runs 5.254/184.35, Now #5

Romine gets a little out of shape around half track, gets near the centerline and has to back off the throttle. Kalitta makes a tremendous run.

Left Lane: David Grubnic Runs 4.570/306.67, Now #1
Right Lane: Randy Parks Runs 4.683/305.15, Now #3

Parks makes a good run but is left behind as Grubnic makes a career best pass and sets the track record.

Left Lane: Jim Head Runs 4.716/299.60, Now #5
Right Lane: Eddie Hill Runs 4.710/309.63, Now #4

Head and Hill have almost identical runs here, Head with the early lead, Hill going by through the lights.

Left Lane: Bob Vandergriff Runs 4.688/299.60, Now #4
Right Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 4.752/308.92, Now #8

Dixon shakes the tires coming off the line, pedals, then goes on through for a decent run. Vandergriff was on a good pass until he threw the blower belt near the end of the track.

Left Lane: Cory McClenathan Runs 4.698/303.37, Now #5
Right Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 4.715/308.57, Now #7

Herbert is trying to make it three in a row, winning in both NHRA and IHRA the past two weekends. Both cars make good safe runs.

Left Lane: Kenny Bernstein Runs 5.020/229.39, Now #13
Right Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 4.594/316.67, Now #3

Bernstein leaves the line on a decent run. The engine then goes up in flames about half track. Good run by Kalitta to get in the #3 spot for now.

Left Lane: Mike Dunn Runs 9.711/69.89, Now #17
Right Lane: Gary Scelzi Runs 4.618/311.85, Now #4

Scelzi is driving the chassis that belonged to Dixon last week. The team used both of there chassis last week in Topeka and purchased the new chassis from the Miller Lite team. Dunn leaves the line and breaks the tires loose. he pedals to try to save the run, the engine then explodes in a huge ball of fire. The call for the Safety safari comes out and we're down for a few minutes.

Left Lane: Joe Amato Runs 4.756/303.57, Now #13
Right Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 9.750/83.91, Now #19

6:27 PM and we're back after a short cleanup. We have the top two in the points race up next, Amato and Schumacher. Schumacher comes off the line, breaks the tires loose and pedals it. Amato makes a decent run but it looks like he pushed out a gasket near the end of the track. We end this first round of qualifying with Grubnic on the pole and Novelli on the bump with a 5.031.

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