Championship Drag Racing

NHRA Nationals
Las Vegas, NV
(April 6-9)

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Cory McClenathan
Rapisarda Racing

Car’s performance boosts Cory Mac’s confidence

Las Vegas, prerace: Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to find a diamond in a ton of coal than a competitive tune-up for a Top Fuel team seeking the NHRA POWERade Series championship.

Cory McClenathan isn’t digging through any piles of coal, but has been eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new tune-up for the Carrier Boyz Racing Fram Boost team. If their performance last Saturday and Sunday at Houston is a barometer, his wait may be over.

McClenathan’s No. 1 qualifying performance – his first in 30 races – and his march to the semifinals (where traction problems caused a loss to eventual race winner Brandon Bernstein) provided a promising glance at what crew chief Wes Cerny and Tony Shortall, his assistant, have been creating for the past two months.

Now the trick for Cerny, Shortall and the hard-working crew is to turn that humid-conditions tune-up into one that can excel in the higher altitude and much drier air at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the Nationals, Friday through Sunday.

“That was a great weekend,” McClenathan said, “but that’s over. Now we are concentrating on qualifying well and going rounds at Las Vegas. The conditions will be different because we were at sea level last week and the Vegas track has some elevation to it. But Wes and Tony seem to have a handle on what’s going on and that makes us all happy. We all are looking forward to going to Vegas.

“I’m really happy for the Carrier Boyz (Mark and Andy). We have been waiting for the combination to come around. Everybody has been waiting. I’m trying to be patient and everybody who knows me knows I’m not a very patient person.”

McClenathan was frustrated because the team had only one round win in three races and the he was not in the top 10. “We took some lumps early,” he added. “It has been a long time since I’ve been sitting outside the top 10. But I talked to Wes about our progress and he smiled and said, ‘Just wait. When it happens you’re going to be happy.’ He keeps telling Mark and Andy that, too, and I’ve been telling everybody else that. We are happy.

“If this had happened 10 years ago, I probably would have been upside down, but I’m real pleased for the team and Mark and Andy. Everybody did an excellent job.”

McClenathan grabbed 10th place in points Sunday and the goal now is to keep climbing as high as possible. The field from two through 10 is tightly bunched. McClenathan’s 193 points put him only 47 points behind second place. Pacesetter Melanie Troxel has been the most consistent thus far and has 368 points.

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