Norwalk Saturday qualifying summary

NORWALK, Ohio -- Cory McClenathan made his name in NHRA competition, winning 33 times during his 14-year career. McClenathan, in his Carrier Boyz/Fram Air Hog dragster, set his sights on the IHRA this weekend as he entered the Skull Gear World ...

NORWALK, Ohio -- Cory McClenathan made his name in NHRA competition, winning 33 times during his 14-year career. McClenathan, in his Carrier Boyz/Fram Air Hog dragster, set his sights on the IHRA this weekend as he entered the Skull Gear World Nationals presented by PPG Automotive Refinish.

The new kid on the block has made quite a splash so far.

McClenathan nailed down the #1 qualifying spot at Norwalk Raceway Park with a 4.568/316.30 pass Friday evening. With difficult weather conditions Saturday no one was able to threaten McClenathan's Friday run, giving the Bristol, Tenn. resident the pole position at his first-even IHRA event.

"This is a great test for us out here before going to Indy," McClenathan said. "At the same time we love coming out here. The track here is excellent and IHRA really puts on a good show. It was a lot of fun and the pressure is really off me because I'm not worrying about points here. I love running against Millican and those guys. It's one of those things where they come over and run some NHRA races, so why shouldn't we come over and run some IHRA races?"

McClenathan knew Millican would come hard at him in Saturday evening qualifying. After a side-by-side race Millican won on a slight holeshot, running a slower et by a thousandth of a second but making up for it with a better reaction time.

"That's what this sport is all about," McClenathan said of the run with Millican during the last round of qualifying. "The crew chiefs are throwing everything they have at each other and the drivers are having fun. Clay and I get along real well and we love running against him. But when it comes down to it, we still both want to win tomorrow."

Doug Foley (Sewell, N.J.) took the #2 qualifying spot with a career-best 4.589/310.77 run while Millican (Drummonds, Tenn.) checked in third at 4.635/296.83.

Jim Halsey (Street, Md.) captured the pole in Torco Pro Modified with a 6.165/227.04. Halsey, who currently stands third in Hooters IHRA World Championship points, fought off teammates Mike Castellana (Westbury, N.Y.) and Shannon Jenkins (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) who finished second and fourth in the final qualifying order. Carl Spiering (Jordan Station, Ont.), winner at Toronto Motorsports Park last month, finished third.

The streak may have been broken, but Steve Spiess (Manhattan, Ill.) ended up on top of the Torco Pro Stock heap for the fourth race in a row after all qualifying was over. Spiess had been the quickest car in 30 consecutive IHRA qualifying or elimination rounds before Tony Gillig posted a 6.519 in the first qualifying session Saturday afternoon. Spiess ran a 6.533 in that session, so the streak came to an end. However, his 6.462/213.27 Friday evening stood up, earning him the pole.

Spiess has won two consecutive Hooters IHRA national events, three overall this season, and held a commanding 122 point lead over second place Robert Patrick in the IHRA World Championship points race heading into the Skull Gear World Nationals presented by PPG. Patrick was unable to qualify for the field at the World Nationals, leaving Spiess in position to take an even more commanding lead with three events remaining on the '05 schedule.

The Funny Car final qualifying order had a very familiar name at the top. Rob Atchison (London, Ont.) claimed the top qualifying post for the eighth time in nine Hooters IHRA national events this season. The current points leader posted a 5.769 in his last shot at the track Saturday evening to overtake Terry Munroe, who ran a 5.786.

The Skull Gear World Nationals presented by PPG Automotive Finish will conclude Sunday at Norwalk Raceway Park. Professional elimination rounds in Torco Pro Stock and Torco Pro Mod are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.

-ihra-

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Series Drag
Drivers Tony Gillig , Robert Patrick , Cory McClenathan , Shannon Jenkins , Doug Foley , Jim Halsey , Steve Spiess