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Sun, 3 Sep 2000, 07:06 PM

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

CLERMONT, Ind. - Notes from final, round 5 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: Chris Karamesines Runs 5.086/282.95, Now #22; Best prior run: 5.312/243.11, Was #22
Right Lane: Luigi Novelli Runs 5.166/220.40, Now #21; Best prior run: 5.081/269.24, Was #21

5:14 PM This is the final shot for qualifying for Top Fuel. The bump is Andrew Cowin's 4.788. Karamesines made a good run, but well off the race pace. Novelli lost an engine on the top end of the run, trailing flames and "stuff" as he crossed the finish line.

Left Lane: Melanie Troxel Runs 4.689/313.37, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.872/273.44, Was #19

After a thorough Safety Safari cleanup in the right lane shutdown area, Troxel fired the Exide Batteries dragster and took her final shot at making the field for her first-ever U.S. Nationals in Top Fuel. She has made four complete passes to this point, but none quick enough to get in - make that five complete runs, the last one a beauty. She hazed the tires lightly at half track and controlled it well, bumping Cowin and putting herself securely in the top half of the field. The car she is driving is the one used as a backup car for Tony Schumacher up to this event, by the way, Schumacher's primary car repainted as the Army car.

Left Lane: Rhonda Hartman-Smith Runs 4.746/310.84, Now #12; Best prior run: 4.797/306.19, Was #18
Right Lane: David Grubnic Runs 5.730/153.14, Now #19; Best prior run: 4.806/302.08, Was #19

The bump facing these two was Paul Romine's 4.784. Grubnic lost traction after 200 feet and gave it up, but Hartman-Smith made a very nice pass to bump Romine and get securely in the field.

Left Lane: Paul Romine Runs 9.254/96.29, Now #17; Best prior run: 4.784/309.07, Was #17
Right Lane: Andrew Cowin Runs 4.802/301.40, Now #18; Best prior run: 4.788/303.71, Was #18

Two just-bumped drivers squared off here - needing to better Shirley Muldowney's 4.779 to get in. Romine lost traction early in his run. Cowin legged it all the way through, but wasn't quick enough to get in.

Left Lane: Shirley Muldowney Runs 4.852/305.91, Now #16; Best prior run: 4.779/306.53, Was #16
Right Lane: Doug Herbert Runs 8.408/110.07, Now #13; Best prior run: 4.755/306.95, Was #13

All of the drivers outside the field have run in this session except Steve Smith, and he will not run. Shirley is safely in, as are the other two female drivers trying to qualify in the Top Fuel field, the first time since 1997 three female drivers have made the Top Fuel field for eliminations at Indy, and with Cristen Powell in the Funny Car field, four will be running in the first round of fuel eliminations Monday. Shirley lost some elapsed time with tire spin in the middle of the run, while Herbert went up in smoke almost immediately.

Left Lane: Bruce Litton Runs 8.869/90.76, Now #14; Best prior run: 4.778/308.43, Was #14

Litton went about 100 feet and lost traction.

Left Lane: Don Lampus Runs 5.620/166.85, Now #11; Best prior run: 4.745/312.93, Was #11
Right Lane: Tim Gibson Runs 4.716/311.49, Now #10; Best prior run: 4.738/303.64, Was #10

Gibson ran his 4.73 right out of the box and hadn't gotten down the strip since then. Lampus had two full passes before this session. So much for "instant analysis," Lampus losing traction near half track while Gibson motors smoothly down the strip.

Left Lane: Doug Kalitta Runs 4.622/310.84, Now #1; Best prior run: 4.713/299.53, Was #9
Right Lane: Gary Scelzi Runs 9.566/80.09, Now #9; Best prior run: 4.699/310.70, Was #8

Kalitta moves to the top of the ladder on a smooth, smoke-free pass. Scelzi loses traction after 100 feet.

Left Lane: Kenny Bernstein Runs 4.797/311.41, Now #8; Best prior run: 4.697/314.46, Was #8
Right Lane: Joe Amato Runs 10.077/86.50, Now #7; Best prior run: 4.689/312.57, Was #7

Bernstein's run looked a little better than the numbers that came up, smooth and right down the groove. Amato, like many others before him, lost traction after 100 feet or so.

Left Lane: Tony Schumacher Runs 4.673/312.42, Now #4; Best prior run: 4.662/314.75, Was #4
Right Lane: Larry Dixon Runs 8.429/96.11, Now #5; Best prior run: 4.668/309.20, Was #5

These two have been side-by-side through most of qualifying, but Schumacher has been very consistent, four passes between 4.662 and 4.747, while Dixon has made good 4.66 runs on two passes and smoked the tires on the other two. True to form, Schumacher made a nice run, close to his best elapsed time, while Dixon once again smoked the tires.

Left Lane: Bob Vandergriff Runs 4.745/308.57, Now #3; Best prior run: 4.658/305.22, Was #3
Right Lane: Cory McClenathan Runs 4.665/315.27, Now #2; Best prior run: 4.655/317.57, Was #2

Last two cars, both very consistent. Vandergriff had three prior runs between 4.658 and 4.786, Cory Mac with three between 4.655 and 4.832. The results was a good side-by-side show, both cars smoke-free all the way down the strip.

That's it, we'll have a Muldowney-Kalitta matchup in the first round, which should spark a lot of interest.

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