McClenathan suffers early exit
Madison, Sunday: Cory McClenathan was defeated by Rod Fuller in the first round of eliminations today at the NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway. The FRAM Top Fuel dragster has demonstrated to be one of the most consistent race cars on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series tour this season, but it uncharacteristically smoked the tires right off the starting line to end McClenathan's day early.
After two days of racing in cool temperatures and under overcast skies the weather changed today, producing a clear and sunny day. As Nos. 8 and 9 qualifiers, McClenathan and Fuller comprised the opening pair in eliminations. They left the starting line together with almost identical reaction times (.066 for McClenathan, .067 for Fuller), but the FRAM dragster blazed the tires almost immediately and Fuller drove to the win with an elapsed time of 4.530 seconds at 328.06 mph to Cory Mac's losing 10.845/78.80.
"Nobody wants to be in the first pair out," said McClenathan, "but I've kind of grown to like that after all the years of racing Top Fuel. It's one of those things where if you win everyone else has to keep up, but if you lose then you're waiting to see who's going to go out around you.
"We went up there with the same set-up we had yesterday. We weren't trying to rotate the earth. We were just trying to run a .52 to .53, which we knew this car could do. Mike Green (crew chief) is disappointed and I know these guys are better than this; I'm not worried about that. It's just one of those deals. I'm not sure whether we had a malfunction or what. We'll look into it and see what it was. This car never strikes the tires that early, so I was really surprised at that.
"We just have to pick up and go to the next race and try to gain some more points," continued McClenathan, who is now No. 5 in the rankings after Fullerís event win today. "We rooted for our teammate Tony Schumacher in the final round, but heís still in the points lead. For us it was tough to go out in the first round and have to sit back and wait and see who else goes where. It didn't help us much in the points."
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