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Fri, 22 Oct 1999, 09:32 PM

DALLAS - Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Session #2
By Ed Dykes

Much Ado for $2500

ENNIS, Texas - Notes from round 2 qualifying in Top Fuel at the 14th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec 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: Steve Smith Runs 6.112/141.48, Now #16; No Prior Run
Right Lane: Tim Gibson Runs 6.107/138.67, Now #15; Best prior run: 11.728/81.95, Was #21

And the hits just keep on coming... they could've shut off the lights for this pair, they looked like a couple of jet cars running, with all the fire and smoke and sparks here. Gibson led the way, his fireball coming about 300' off the line while Smith's followed by about 100' or so. Regardless, the runs were good enough to move both drivers into the show, at least for now.

Left Lane: Rhonda Hartman Runs 12.655/83.37, Now #22; Best prior run: 11.381/59.05, Was #22
Right Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 6.179/135.52, Now #17; Best prior run: 11.111/83.96, Was #21

It's nice to see the distaff Hartman back in the driver's seat, after taking a year off to become a Mom. Here, she shakes and lifts before the 100' mark, while Dixon stayed with it until about 300', then followed suit.

Left Lane: David Grubnic Runs 5.783/151.54, Now #16; Best prior run: 11.028/80.67, Was #21
Right Lane: Eddie Hill Runs 4.601/320.74, Now #1; Best prior run: 10.067/85.04, Was #20

Nobody is more popular at the Texas Motorplex than Eddie Hill, so you can just imagine the response this run elicited from the fans here tonight. The local Budweiser distributor posted a $2500 cash bonus (to be donated to the driver's favorite charity) for the top speed posted during tonight's qualifying session, and before this run Tommy Johnson's 316mph pass was the number to beat. But not any more, as the Texan leaps to the top of the pack with a stellar run.

Left Lane: Bob Vandergriff Runs 5.651/160.80, Now #16; Best prior run: 5.468/178.53, Was #15
Right Lane: Doug Foxworth Runs 4.870/295.85, Now #12; Best prior run: 10.041/88.53, Was #21

Vandergriff was on a record pace, but couldn't sustain the momentum when the engine started spitting green flames out the pipes followed but the sparklers that signal the departure of the engine internals. In the other side, Foxworth's powerplant wasn't hitting on all eight either, but he stayed with it and managed to move into the show, bumping Grubnic. The Safety Safari trucks are making laps, and it appears they're in the right side, right at the finishline and beyond.

Left Lane: Mike Dunn Runs 4.729/246.64, Now #9; Best prior run: 4.977/211.86, Was #13
Right Lane: Scott Kalitta Runs 4.546/318.92, Now #1; Best prior run: 6.390/125.64, Was #21

That was a long cleanup, as it turned out there was oil in both lanes so we've been down for at least 20 minutes. I talked to a couple of the crew chiefs during the break, and they indicated that the weather is such that the track isn't getting any worse but it's not any better, either. And these two do their best jet car impersonations, both engines up in flames by the end of their runs. This time it was Dunn first, at 1000', followed by Kalitta just before the finish. Both cars were still smoldering as they rolled to a stop, but Kalitta's run was good enough to move him to the #1 qualifying spot. Eddie Hill retains the night's top speed honors, but there are lots of big guns still left in the staging lanes.

Left Lane: Terry Mullins Runs 11.222/77.76, Now #13; Best prior run: 4.784/297.61, Was #13
Right Lane: Gary Scelzi Runs 4.818/217.86, Now #14; Best prior run: 5.117/207.27, Was #16

Scelzi's run probably looks a little more impressive when you consider the fact that he was running just over 265mph at the eighth-mile. Obviously the engine gave up the ghost at that point, and he coasted across the finish, but we couldn't tell what happened.

Left Lane: Don Lampus Runs 4.694/310.77, Now #6; Best prior run: 4.778/309.27, Was #11
Right Lane: Randy Parks Runs 4.788/268.57, Now #14; Best prior run: 5.066/215.62, Was #16

Lampus moves up the ladder with a fine effort, then his parachutes failed to deploy which must have given him a tense moment or two. But this track was built by a racer for racers, and there's plenty of stopping room. Lampus was able to get his mount stopped with room to spare. In the other lane, the Fluke dragster torched a head gasket then a cylinder head, the resulting fireball pretty impressive.

Left Lane: Jim Head Runs 15.823/57.98, Now #12; Best prior run: 4.764/302.92, Was #11
Right Lane: Mike Smith Runs 4.709/286.71, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.784/307.48, Was #12

Head's tires didn't make one complete revolution before they were smoking, while Smith was on a pass, running 260mph at the eighth-mile. The header flames disappeared well before the 1000' mark, or this one would have been much quicker.

Left Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 10.194/87.46, Now #9; Best prior run: 4.714/305.49, Was #9
Right Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 9.570/88.32, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.728/296.54, Was #10

Too much horsepower for the available traction, here, and these two will remain in the #9 and 10 slots.

Left Lane: Cory McClenathan Runs 4.580/311.74, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.702/317.12, Was #7
Right Lane: Kenny Bernstein Runs 5.158/187.32, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.651/309.91, Was #4

We talked about impressive speeds at the eighth-mile, well here's the best we've seen in a while... 269.38mph by the MBNA dragster of Cory Mac.

Bernstein was actually ahead and pulling away in the early part of the run, then his header flames went dark and the green car streaked ahead.

Left Lane: Joe Amato Runs 5.075/198.98, Now #6; Best prior run: 4.667/307.58, Was #6
Right Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 4.557/326.91, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.636/314.02, Was #4

The announcers have been hyping the $2500 Top Speed bonus, and Don Schumacher stepped up to the plate and said that he would match the contribution if his Exide car could set the mark. Then announcer Bob Frey got into the act and said he'd match Schumacher's challenge, so there's a $7500 check to charity riding on this run. And he does it, Tony Schumacher driving the Exide dragster to Top Speed honors and costing his dad and Bob Frey $2500 each. That's the last pair, so after two rounds it's Scott Kalitta on the pole and Doug Foxworth on the bump.

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