Cannon fails to qualify for first time since E-Town in 2001
Memphis, Saturday: For the first time all season and since the Englishtown, N.J., race in 2001, Scotty Cannon failed to qualify his Oakley Funny Car at an NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event.
Today, Cannon's streak of qualifying for 56 straight events was snapped by his coming in No. 17, with a 5.134-second elapsed time in today's final qualifying session. The bump spot was a 5.11, and he fell agonizingly short.
"It is what it is," said the popular Mohawk-wearing racer from Lyman, S.C. "I take my hat off to all the fans. I have an awful lot of people up here in Tennessee who are my fans. I've done a lot of match racing here over the years. Well, I guess we'll just have to go back and see if we can make it better.
"We were too aggressive in the first session today, so we backed it down for the final round and we were just too conservative," he explained. "It's disappointing, without a doubt, but we're not down. We'll just keep plugging along and doing all we can to make improvements."
Cannon not qualified on Friday night
Memphis, Friday: In today's first round of qualifying Scotty Cannon was the only Don Schumacher Racing team Funny Car driver to make the field when he posted a 5.406/219.26 which placed him No. 12.
In the second round he dropped cylinders mid-way down the quarter-mile and shut it down, coasting to a 9.197/89.37 pass, knocking him out of the field to No. 17.
"We were probably just a little too aggressive tonight, because we know this Oakley Funny Car was capable of a 4.7-second run," he said. "We'll just have to get after it tomorrow and get it qualified," added Cannon, who has qualified for every event this season.
Cannon ready to face the music in Memphis
Memphis, pre-race: Scotty Cannon is ready to face the music at the O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals this weekend at Memphis Motorsports Park. In a city famous for its musical heritage, not to mention Graceland, home of probably the most popular American musician, the late Elvis Presley, the driver of the Oakley Funny Car is ready to rock and roll.
"We're getting tuned up for the race this weekend, but I won't be playing a guitar," said the popular Mohawk-wearing racer from Lyman, S.C. "I'll be working on my Oakley car tune-up, now that I'm the crew chief."
Cannon has had a rough season in 2003, but, now that he's crew chief and taking advantage of the Schumacher Racing brain trust of Mike Neff (Gary Scelzi's crew chief), Lee Beard (Whit Bazemore's crew chief) and Dan Olson (co-crew chief for Scelzi and Bazemore), he's looking for better results as the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series winds down in the final six races.
Cannon, No. 14 in points, has qualified for every race so far this season, which is quite an accomplishment on anybody's chart, but has advanced to the second round just four times. He is still looking for his first Funny Car win.
"We're going to try to pick up here in Memphis where we left off with the way the car was running at the U.S. Nationals in Indy," he said. "We'll just try to finesse it a little bit. In Indy we learned we had a car with the potential to run in the high 4.70s pretty easy. We just have to find the right buttons to mash.
"I think we can do it. The weather's going to make it easier here, I think. We're looking forward to trying to get into the field, getting it qualified in the first run, then be in a good position to back it up on Friday night to get it in the top half of the field.
"We're making progress. If I hadn't made what I call a driver error at the U.S. Nationals," where he says he stayed on the clutch just a tad too long and lost in the second round, "we probably would have had a better result and we could have gathered more data to help us at the rest of the races. But we're getting there."
Two consecutive rainouts (U.S. Nationals and Reading) are a concern, as the teams are looking at seven weekends of racing in a row at this stage. "At least it doesn't look like we have to worry about Hurricane Isabel in Memphis at this point," said Cannon, who also noted that Isabel has not affected his home state of South Carolina. This should lessen his stress level here in Memphis this weekend.
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