Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals
Tough class keeps McClenathan working to win
In the two events run thus far in 2005, two former NHRA POWERade Top Fuel Champions have ended Cory Mac's day. Two weeks ago he lost to two-time champion, Larry Dixon, who won the title in 2002 and 2003, in the season opening race. Today, he was turned back by the defending champion Tony Schumacher in the second round of the 21st annual NHRA Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals being held this weekend at Firebird International Raceway in
"While everybody used to think that Pro Stock was the closest and toughest class, I, in my personal opinion, think that Top Fuel has assumed that role by far," said McClenathan. "It's tougher than Pro Stock and Funny Car or any of them. It brings it down to a driver's game as long as your car can run the big numbers.
"Not to mention that I go to Pomona and have to run world champ Larry Dixon and then turn right around and come here and second round I have to run the 2004 champ Tony Schumacher. I don't mind racing the tough guys but that's really tough."
In the opening round against David Baca, McClenathan ran a notch better than his qualifying time of 4.569 seconds, recording a pass of 4.558 seconds at 323.85 mph in his Fram AirHog dragster. Baca dropped a cylinder at about half-track and Cory Mac motored away to the win light. McClenathan, fifth on the all-time Top Fuel career win list with 28, now owns a 5-2 advantage in head-to-head competition over his former
In a battle of David versus Goliath, McClenathan squared off against No. 1 qualifier Schumacher in the quarterfinal. This time Goliath moved on. It was a good drag race until about the 1000-foot mark when Cory Mac momentarily lost traction and Schumacher took the win light in 4.52 seconds. McClenathan slowed to a 4.97.
"We got by that opening round and that win helped move us back into the top 10 in points. As to Schumacher, he's in a class all by himself right now and we have to find a way to start running with him and the other cars too," said McClenathan.
"Schumacher and Alan Johnson (crew chief) did a much better job than we did. He was out on me from the start and we started spinning the tires somewhere after half track.
"Our goal is still to be consistent with this car. We think that will allow us to win rounds and then step on it when we need to. We're going to stay and test this Fram AirHog car for the next couple of days. We'll be checking out blowers. We'll go from there and then on to the Mac Tools Gatornationals."
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