McClenathan ousted in close first-round race
Chicago, Sunday: Fram Top Fuel dragster driver Cory McClenathan made his best run of the weekend, a 4.590-second pass at 321.94 mph, during the first round of eliminations today at the Route 66 NHRA Nationals, but it wasn't enough to take the crucial opening-round victory.
McClenathan entered race day from the No. 9 qualifying spot on the strength of his 4.598-second elapsed time and faced No. 8 qualifier Hillary Will in the first round. The pair was the first down the track and put on a close race. They left the starting line with almost identical reaction times (McClenathan's .097 to Will's .090) and were side by side down the quarter-mile until Will edged out McClenathan with a 4.539/314.17 winning pass to McClenathan's stout but losing 4.590/321.94. Margin of victory: .0581 of a second.
"(Crew chief) Mike Green tried to run a 4.57 on that run and the Fram dragster ran a 4.59, and we were just a little bit off of what we were trying to run," said McClenathan. "When somebody (Hillary Will) turns around and runs a 4.53 after they qualified with a 4.58 there's nothing you can do but just keep on going.
"The worst thing is that after looking at what the rest of the cars were running we had the fourth quickest elapsed time of the round and the second quickest losing time. It just looks like we chose the wrong person to race against in the opening round.
"We're going to have to pick it up all the way around," added McClenathan, who is now No. 6 in the Top Fuel point standings. "From the car aspect to my driving aspect, we just need to get better. That's all there is to do at this point. Testing won't do it; we're going to have to make it better on the race track.
"We've got a week off and then we'll be in Englishtown and we're just going to have to make it work one way or another. This is too good a team. Right now we're lucky to be in the top five and we just have to keep on marching on. There's nothing we can do about this one. The FRAM car didn't run bad, we just got beat by a very quick car."
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