Fuller continues his first-place points battle
Gainesville, Sunday: Even the best starting line reaction time of the day wasn't enough to propel the Valvoline Top Fuel dragster into the second round of eliminations at the 37th Annual AC Delco Gatornationals.
After two days of qualifying, driver "Hot Rod" Fuller captured the 8th spot in Sunday's 16-car final elimination field. That meant being the first of the day to fire-up the nitromethane-burning machine after the Star Spangled Banner was sung.
The match-up pitted former NHRA Super Comp champion Fuller against Cory McClenathan. But even though Fuller hit the throttle in just .037-seconds, it wasn't enough to advance the David Powers-owned machine to the next round. Fuller tripped the quarter-mile timer at 4.60 seconds at 320.85 mph while McClenathan crossed the stripe a mere six ten-thousands of a second faster at 4.54 seconds at 327.63 mph.
"We just don't have the setup figured out with the new tires yet," crew chief Lee Beard said. "We plan to spend some time at the track tomorrow (Monday) to try to get a handle on them." Goodyear and NHRA mandated that all Top Fuel teams run the new rear slick here at the Gatornationals. The tire is different from last year's rubber in both its construction and compound. Teams were allowed to run either tire at the first two events. Since it was a known commodity, Beard opted to stick with last year's version early on while other teams went with the new one. "That got us a little behind," Beard said.
Fuller, who holds on to his second place points standing, was optimistic about the future. "We won Phoenix, the second event of the season and that shows how committed this team is to winning the championship. This is only the third stop of 23 so there's a long way to go before the trophy's are handed out. Mark my word's we'll be there at the end."
Despite today's early exit in final eliminations, the David Powers–Valvoline Top Fuel team is only 73 points behind leader Melanie Troxel. The next event on the POWERade Drag Racing schedule is the O'Reilly Spring Nationals in Houston, home track for the David Powers Motorsports operation.
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