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Mon, 4 Sep 2000, 12:58 PM

INDY - Top Fuel Round 1 Eliminations
By Larry Sullivan

Film At Eleven

CLERMONT, Ind. - Results of round 1 eliminations in Top Fuel at the 46th annual U.S. Nationals:

   8 Kenny Bernstein     4.697 314.46  Q    9 Gary Scelzi         4.699 310.70
 *****WINNER***** 0.479  4.711 309.91  E1                  0.483  4.713 304.53
11:00 AM Throw away the log books for the past three days and start over - it's overcast (but clearing) and cool, not hot and hazy. Roll the dice... These two meet in the first round next week as well, at the rained-out Englishtown rerun. The race was a good as you'd expect from these two, leaving together and side-by-side all the way through the lights. Scelzi was slightly ahead at 1,000 feet, Bernstein's car a bit loose and fishtailing in the middle of the run, but then Scelzi's engine started spitting smoke and flames and the Bud King nosed ahead to win by a margin of victory = 0.006 seconds (approximately 3 feet). The Safety Safari rolls to clean up the right lane, so Scelzi not only loses the race, he loses another 10 points for the oildown.

   6 Melanie Troxel      4.689 313.37  Q   11 Don Lampus          4.745 312.93
 *****WINNER***** 0.517  4.735 267.59  E1                  0.467  5.903 152.64
The cleanup was efficient and quick, a huge array of vehicles in a choreographed ballet. Lampus got a big starting line advantage, but started smoking the tires at half track and shut it down. Troxel was on a very good run, but lost the blower belt at 1,000 feet and coasted across the line.

   5 Larry Dixon         4.668 309.20  Q   12 Rhonda Hartman-Smi  4.746 310.84
 *****WINNER***** 0.495  4.852 273.27  E1                  0.478  5.001 261.52
Dixon was uncharacteristically inconsistent during qualifying, making two good runs in the mid-sixties and smoking the tires on the other three. Hartman-Smith was consistent all the way through, but only in the mid-seventies. Dixon dodged a bullet here, well ahead through the first half of the run and then hazing the tires, allowing Hartman-Smith to close the gap on the top end. Dixon stayed on the throttle throughout, the tires spinning and the over-revved engine leaving a trail of oil from half track all the way through the finish line. Dixon wins, but loses 10 points and lane choice in round two.

   4 Tony Schumacher     4.662 314.75  Q   13 Doug Herbert        4.755 306.95
 *****WINNER***** 0.511  4.673 309.27  E1                  0.772 10.395  83.37
When the green light came on Schumacher rocketed away like a Hellfire missile leaving its Apache helicopter launch tube, the Army-liveried dragster streaking away from a stationary Herbert. When Herbert finally left, his car did not respond and he shut it down. Schumacher will have lane choice against Dixon in the second round, a matchup with big implications in the points chase.

   2 Cory McClenathan    4.655 317.57  Q   15 Gary Clapshaw       4.779 307.44
                  0.542  7.246 111.49  E1 *****WINNER***** 0.544  4.706 310.41
Wow! Cory Mac lost traction violently about 200 feet out after a quick launch, with a 0.839 60-foot time. Clapshaw made his best lap of the weekend - in fact, his best run ever. His qualifying ET and speed were career-bests, and he demolished both of those numbers on this run. This is also his first round win of the year.

   3 Bob Vandergriff     4.658 305.22  Q   14 Bruce Litton        4.778 308.43
 *****WINNER***** 0.532  4.701 310.41  E1                  0.523  4.851 306.33
Good drag race, but Vandergriff was too quick in the first half of the run and Litton was unable to close the gap on the other end, neither car smoking the tires at all during their run. The margin of victory = 0.141 seconds (approximately 63 feet) and Vandergriff has lane choice against Troxel in round two.

   1 Doug Kalitta        4.622 310.84  Q   16 Shirley Muldowney   4.779 306.53
 *****WINNER***** 0.490 No Time        E1                  0.527 No Time
Connie Kalitta was seen engaging in animated, good-natured conversation with several of Shirley's team members during earlier oil cleanups, so it appears the "feud" is a bit overblown. This was a sure highlight reel run, Doug Kalitta losing traction early in the run while Muldowney's car went into a progressively higher and higher wheelstand. She was finally forced to lift at half track, the front end way in the air, and when the front end hit the ground the right front wheel snapped off and the car slid across the centerline, taking out the timing reflectors. The wayward wheel bounced across the track and hit the nose of Kalitta's car, then the wall. Neither driver gets a time, Kalitta is the winner, losing lane choice to Bernstein in round two.

   7 Joe Amato           4.689 312.57  Q   10 Tim Gibson          4.716 311.49
 *****WINNER***** 0.499  4.788 303.37  E1                  0.471  4.821 294.63
Gibson got a small holeshot and it was almost enough, Amato quicker over the first half of the run, then smoking the tires in the middle of the run, allowing Gibson to close the gap. Then Gibson started smoking the tires in the final 320 feet and Amato edged back ahead for the win by a margin of victory = 0.005 seconds (approximately 2 feet). The cameras got a good shot of it from overhead, so be sure to catch the TV show this evening. Amato wins, but loses lane choice to Clapshaw in round two.

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