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Fri, 1 Sep 2000, 10:58 PM

INDY - Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Session #1
By Rick Green

CLERMONT, Ind. - Notes from round 1 qualifying in Top Fuel at the 46th annual U.S. Nationals listing lane, driver name, elapsed time, top speed, and position in order following run:

Left Lane: Shirley Muldowney Runs 4.779/306.53, Now #1
Right Lane: Luigi Novelli Runs 5.119/271.62, Now #2

8:57 PM-We have a short track prep before we begin the first round of Top Fuel. The left lane will have Shirley Muldowney making her first NHRA race since 1997 at Dallas. She's here this weekend with sponsorship from and a host of others. She also announced that she will compete at Pomona at the final race of the season. Novelli has had several recent starts and has improved at every race. He ran 4.776 at Brainard a couple of weeks ago. This is a good place to start.

Muldowney makes the most of her first hit with a clean run right down the middle of her lane. She started the run with a .880 sixty foot number and was in front all the way down. Novelli got a good baseline but all eyes were on the pink car.

Left Lane: Chris Karamesines Runs 5.312/243.11, Now #4
Right Lane: Gary Clapshaw Runs 4.779/307.44, Now #1

In the second pair we have another legend. Chris Karamesines is making his.. aw, who knows how many Nationals he's run. Oh, by the way, Gary Clapshaw is the #1 qualifier after two pairs. Karamesines was fat but Clapshaw was right on to the finish. He ties Shirley's ET but takes the top spot on MPH.

Left Lane: Melanie Troxel Runs 4.875/264.70, Now #3

Troxel will make a new car single in the left lane. Good pass until about 1000 feet where she shut the car off. Last week in testing she ran 4.68 in this car.

Right Lane: Steve Smith Runs 4.921/291.57, Now #4

Steve Smith gets a single in the right lane and makes a soft pass to get into the field early in the round.

Left Lane: Paul Romine Runs 9.475/90.56, Now #8
Right Lane: Andrew Cowin Runs 4.847/273.83, Now #3

Back to pairs now as Romine and Cowin get to play together in first round qualifying. Cowin is in the lead all the way down but he appeared to push out a head gasket at the 800 foot mark. He never lifted but his MPH was way off. Romine left hard but lifted when he smoked the tires around the transition.

Left Lane: Bruce Litton Runs 4.954/236.34, Now #7
Right Lane: Tim Gibson Runs 4.738/303.64, Now #1

Tim Gibson moves to the top of the heap with a nice run. Litton was riding a rocket until he started smoking the tires at around 800 feet and was forced to lift.

Left Lane: Rhonda Hartman-Smith Runs 5.634/164.63, Now #11
Right Lane: David Grubnic Runs 4.832/299.86, Now #4

Hartman-Smith started breaking some parts about half track and shuts the car off. Couldn't tell what broke but they are lighting the next pair as I type, so it couldn't have been real bad. Grubnic gets a good base to work from in the other lane. At this point, one quarter of the qualified field is...female!

Left Lane: Don Lampus Runs 4.745/312.93, Now #2
Right Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 11.241/77.23, Now #14

Lampus pulls into the #2 spot and runs top MPH of the event to this point. We heard that the chutes didn't come out but he got the car stopped on the brakes. Herbert started smoking the tires around 200 feet so he called it off.

Left Lane: Bob Vandergriff Runs 4.658/305.22, Now #2
Right Lane: Cory McClenathan Runs 4.655/317.57, Now #1

Wow, what a pair this was. Both cars run almost identical ET's and Cory Mac jumps into the top spot with both low ET and top MPH. Vandergriff was only .003 slower in the other lane and gets to hold on to the #2 spot for awhile.

Left Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 6.312/133.84, Now #16
Right Lane: Joe Amato Runs 4.689/312.57, Now #3

With this pair the bumping has begun. Amato makes a clean pass on the Jimmy Prock tune up. Kalitta made it to about 300 feet before the smoke started pouring off the Goodyears. Romine and Herbert have now been bumped.

Left Lane: Kenny Bernstein Runs 4.697/314.46, Now #5
Right Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 4.668/309.20, Now #3

Dixon threw a big sparkler out of the headers on the right bank but still muscles his was into the field. Bernstein was just a tick behind and goes to #5. That bumps Hartman-Smith and Kalitta.

Left Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 4.665/316.60, Now #3
Right Lane: Gary Scelzi Runs 11.748/89.13, Now #22

Schumacher gives a thrill to his new sponsors, the United States Army, as he makes a full pass and puts the black and gold car into the #3 spot. Scelzi was never in this one as Big Red was up in smoke before 200 feet. That concludes qualifying for Friday. Oh by the way, it's a really great fireworks show going on right now and I won't EVEN try to describe that.

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