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Sat, 23 Oct 1999, 07:11 PM

DALLAS - Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Final Session
By Larry Sullivan

Pressure, Pressure, Pressure

ENNIS, Texas - Notes from final, round 4 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: Doug Foxworth Runs 13.300/55.27, Now #19; Best prior run: 4.848/289.85, Was #19
Right Lane: Steve Smith Runs 4.928/263.23, Now #20; Best prior run: 6.112/141.48, Was #22

5:15 PM Foxworth's car went up in smoke and left a trail of fluid down the track - reported to be a fuel leak. Smith made a smooth run to half track, then the engine started eating itself and the car nosed over, leaving Smith on the outside of the field.

Left Lane: Gary Scelzi Runs 4.638/313.04, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.818/217.86, Was #18
Right Lane: David Grubnic Runs 4.825/287.44, Now #19; Best prior run: 5.265/262.08, Was #21

Winston Dragster car owner and crew chief Alan Johnson threw his hands up in disgust when he saw the trail of liquid in the lane they would be running in, but looked a bit happier when they found out it was just fuel. To get in they needed to beat Terry Mullins' 4.784. Scelzi did that with ease, the "Big Red" team coming through once again, with all eight firing all the way down the dragstrip, something they should be able to tune from for tomorrow's eliminations. Grubnic also got down the track more or less cleanly, but was too slow to make the field, going from number-one qualifier at Memphis to non-qualifier at Dallas. What a difference two weeks makes!

Left Lane: Randy Parks No Time, Now #18; Best prior run: 4.788/268.57, Was #18
Right Lane: Terry Mullins Runs 8.850/86.43, Now #17; Best prior run: 4.784/297.61, Was #17

The bump is now Doug Kalitta's 4.728. Mullins dropped a bunch of cylinders immediately after the rear tires started smoking. Parks got a bit further, to about half track, the dropped a couple cylinders and started mixing the remaining six up pretty badly. Kalitta gets a reprieve.

Left Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 4.590/304.87, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.728/296.54, Was #16
Right Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 4.620/316.78, Now #9; Best prior run: 4.714/305.49, Was #15

Now Kalitta gets his last chance to move off the bubble - where he would meet cousin Scott in round one if he made it through this round without getting bumped. He did that very nicely and Herbert followed him up the ladder, both cars making smooth, straight, clean runs. That puts Mike Smith on the bubble at 4.709.

Left Lane: Mike Smith No Time, Now #16; Best prior run: 4.709/286.71, Was #16
Right Lane: Don Lampus Runs 4.686/298.30, Now #15; Best prior run: 4.694/310.77, Was #15

Smith couldn't back up after the burnout and drove out the other end to clear the track for Lampus, so he'll have to sweat out the rest of the round. Lampus improves his ET a bit, stuck on the same rung of the ladder, however. On further examination of the staging lanes, we find that Smith is safe, there are no not-qualified cars left to run.

Left Lane: Kenny Bernstein Runs 9.495/79.36, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.613/315.01, Was #8
Right Lane: Bob Vandergriff Runs 10.504/74.41, Now #14; Best prior run: 4.680/304.67, Was #14

Synchronized problems here, Bernstein smoking the rear tires and Vandergriff getting the front wheels a bit too far up to be comfortable. Both shut off and coasted through.

Left Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 4.679/304.36, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.603/301.20, Was #7
Right Lane: Mike Dunn Runs 4.573/312.60, Now #4; Best prior run: 4.671/294.88, Was #13

Nice pass by Dunn, and even better, no engine explosion on the top end. Dixon's run was also clean, but a bit off his earlier pace, at least one dead cylinder on the top end. Well, maybe it wasn't so clean for Dunn, the Safety Safari going to work in the right lane, in the shutdown area.

Left Lane: Eddie Hill Runs 4.608/312.71, Now #7; Best prior run: 4.601/320.74, Was #7
Right Lane: Jim Head Runs 12.526/70.78, Now #13; Best prior run: 4.667/306.74, Was #13

That's three 4.60s in a row for Hill, another clean, straight pass. Head once again lost traction after about 100 feet. Needless to say, this Texas crowd gave Hill's team a big round of applause - or maybe that was for the announcement of the football score, "Texas 24, Nebraska 20"?

Left Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 4.624/318.24, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.557/326.91, Was #2
Right Lane: Cory McClenathan Runs 13.356/66.60, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.580/311.74, Was #5

Instant tire smoke for Cory Mac. Nice, clean pass by Schumacher, a picture-perfect run, no dropped cylinders, no tire smoke, no engine damage.

Left Lane: Scott Kalitta Runs 4.823/219.45, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.546/318.92, Was #1
Right Lane: Joe Amato Runs 12.814/76.46, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.566/319.26, Was #3

This looked like a repeat, instant smoke from Amato and a nice pass by Kalitta, but the header flames on Kalitta's car went out around the 1,000-foot marker - no reason we could see, it just shut off. May have been a planned short pass since he was already qualified number one.

That's it, Kalitta will face Mike Smith in the first round, at 11:00 AM Sunday.

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