McClenathan seeks first victory at Route 66
Chicago, pre-race: FramTop Fuel dragster driver Cory McClenathan has reached the winner's circle at 16 different tracks over the course of his 17 years of competition, but the most tenured driver in the class has yet to score a victory or reach the final round at Route 66 Raceway.
This weekend he hopes to change that at the Route 66 NHRA Nationals, the 10th stop on the 24-race NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series schedule. It also marks the beginning of the second half of the 18-race regular season, leading up to the Countdown to the Championship, which begins following the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day weekend in Indianapolis.
McClenathan is No. 5 in the Top Fuel point standings following a solid semifinal finish in Topeka last Sunday, where he qualified No. 2, the sixth time he's entered eliminations in the top half of the 16-car field. McClenathan's Don Schumacher Racing entry has been the picture of consistency for much of the 2008 season and he looks to continue that trend this weekend at the Route 66 Nationals.
Despite not scoring a win, Cory Mac has performed well at Route 66 in the past, notching No. 1 qualifying efforts in 2000 and at the fall race in 2003, where he recorded his career-best elapsed time of 4.463 seconds.
"Normally I would be a little skeptical about going into Chicago because you're skeptical about any race that you haven't had a lot of success at in the past," says McClenathan. "But because of the testing we did there earlier in the year with both the Fram dragster and the U.S. Army car I'm actually looking forward to it. We did very well during testing and I think we're going to have a pretty good race car there.
"Obviously it's a big deal for Don Schumacher because it's his home. He'll have lots of employees from Schumacher Electric (based in the Chicago area) and his whole family there.
"These back-to-back races are tough on everybody," McClenathan added. "But the Fram guys have kind of reeled their stuff in and they worked very hard on Monday and Tuesday to get ready for the race. I can't wait to begin qualifying on Friday. I'm hoping the weather is going to be like it was during testing and I think we'll be ready for them.
"We've qualified very well at Route 66 but I haven't gone a lot of rounds there in the past. I think now we have a car that is capable of doing so and that's proven by the way we've tested. And (crew chief) Mike Green has done well there. So I'd like to change our luck.
"Points-wise we're looking good, but we'd like to perform better and keep on going rounds. Obviously we'd like to win races, but winning rounds is our biggest hurdle right now. We're just going to keep trying to do that and accumulating points. We're half-way to Indy right now and we just want to keep on going.
"Route 66 Raceway is second to none. It's a beautiful place. They built quite a drag-racing facility there and it rates right up there with the top two or three, in my eyes. It's one of the tracks we love to go to, they get a great crowd there, and we really look forward to going there. You know the track conditions are going to be optimum, and I think the Top Fuel cars are going to fly."
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