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Sun, 3 Sep 2000, 02:44 PM

INDY - Top Fuel Qualifying Notes, Session #4
By Larry Sullivan

CLERMONT, Ind. - Notes from round 4 qualifying in Top Fuel at the 46th annual U.S. 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: Luigi Novelli Runs 5.081/269.24, Now #21; Best prior run: 5.119/271.62, Was #21
Right Lane: Bob Vandergriff Runs 4.786/307.02, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.658/305.22, Was #2

12:45 PM The bump as we open the fourth qualifying session is Rhonda Hartman-Smith's 4.797. Novelli makes his best pass of the weekend, but is still a couple tenths away from the field. Vandergriff drove through two brief periods of tire smoke on the top end of the run for no improvement, but a good race-day test run. The Safety Safari went to work in the shutdown area of the right lane, so it looks like Vandergriff left a bit of oil on the track.

Left Lane: Steve Smith Runs 4.899/291.70, Now #20; Best prior run: 4.921/291.57, Was #20
Right Lane: Chris Karamesines Runs 6.644/128.60, Now #22; Best prior run: 5.312/243.11, Was #22

Karamesines sat there while Smith made a full pass, right down the groove, but too slow to make the field. Then Karamesines made his run, shutting down after 300 feet.

Right Lane: Shirley Muldowney Runs 4.847/309.42, Now #14; Best prior run: 4.779/306.53, Was #14

Shirley made a clean run, with no sign of problems along the way.

Left Lane: Tim Gibson Runs 10.809/85.87, Now #7; Best prior run: 4.738/303.64, Was #7
Right Lane: Kenny Bernstein Runs 4.815/292.77, Now #6; Best prior run: 4.697/314.46, Was #6

Gibson lost traction almost immediately. Bernstein dropped a cylinder on the right side early in the run, then another on the other side, then there was dense smoke from the engine and the header flames went out.

Left Lane: David Grubnic Runs 4.806/302.08, Now #17; Best prior run: 4.832/299.86, Was #17
Right Lane: Melanie Troxel Runs 4.872/273.44, Now #19; Best prior run: 4.875/264.70, Was #19

Both these cars figured to be easy qualifiers. Both made good runs, Melanie doing a good job of driving through tire smoke on the top end of the run. Both came up short of the bump time.

Left Lane: Cory McClenathan Runs 4.709/312.57, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.655/317.57, Was #1
Right Lane: Paul Romine Runs 4.784/309.07, Now #15; Best prior run: 4.849/306.95, Was #18

Two more good runs, Romine getting in and bumping Hartman-Smith. Now it's Andrew Cowin on the bubble with a 4.788.

Left Lane: Andrew Cowin Runs 4.825/302.55, Now #16; Best prior run: 4.788/303.71, Was #16
Right Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 4.713/299.53, Now #7; Best prior run: 4.755/301.81, Was #11

Cowin fails to improve and stays on the bubble. Good run by Kalitta to move into the top half of the field.

Left Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 8.558/93.20, Now #11; Best prior run: 4.755/306.95, Was #11
Right Lane: Don Lampus Runs 5.432/178.05, Now #9; Best prior run: 4.745/312.93, Was #9

Tire smoke, Herbert after 300 feet and Lampus just past half track.

Left Lane: Gary Scelzi Runs 4.699/310.70, Now #7; Best prior run: 4.751/308.28, Was #10
Right Lane: Rhonda Hartman-Smith Runs 4.803/292.90, Now #17; Best prior run: 4.797/306.19, Was #17

Scelzi finally gets into the sixties and the top half of the field on a good run. Hartman-Smith made a clean pass, but the car fell off the pace early in the run and she came up short of the bump time, failing to get back into the field.

Left Lane: Joe Amato Runs 8.710/100.11, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.689/312.57, Was #5
Right Lane: Bruce Litton Runs 4.822/304.67, Now #12; Best prior run: 4.778/308.43, Was #12

Amato lost traction, backpedaled, then gave it up. Litton made a full pass, but failed to improve.

Left Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 6.279/131.95, Now #4; Best prior run: 4.668/309.20, Was #4
Right Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 4.703/311.05, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.662/314.75, Was #3

"Sarge" lines up opposite the Miller Lite car once again to close the session. Dixon was on a good run until the blower belt came off around half track. Schumacher made another clean, straight run, his fourth of the weekend, four bullets right down the lane, making him the clear favorite in eliminations Monday, regardless of what happens in the final qualifying session this afternoon.

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