Rockingham I: Friday qualifying summary

MCCLENATHAN SETS RECORD IN FIRST DAY QUALIFYING DURING NICKO'S NY STYLE PIZZA SPRING NATIONALS ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (April 21, 2006) -- Driving for the sons of IHRA founder Larry Carrier, Cory McClenathan of Anaheim, Calif., raced to ...

MCCLENATHAN SETS RECORD IN FIRST DAY QUALIFYING DURING NICKO'S NY STYLE PIZZA SPRING NATIONALS

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (April 21, 2006) -- Driving for the sons of IHRA founder Larry Carrier, Cory McClenathan of Anaheim, Calif., raced to a Rockingham Dragway speed record Friday and took the first day lead in Torco Racing Fuels Top Fuel qualifying at the Nicko's NY Style Pizza Spring Nationals presented by Advance Auto Parts.

McClenathan, driving for brothers Andy and Mark Carrier, was clocked in 4.549 seconds at 326.32 miles per hour, shattering the 323.19 mph record held by five-time IHRA Top Fuel champion Clay Millican.

If there was a Friday surprise in Top Fuel, it wasn't so much that McClenathan was No. 1, it was that Millican was not in the eight-car lineup after the first of three qualifying sessions. The 40-year-old veteran from Drummonds, Tenn., was forced to abort his first attempt when his dragster shook hard and lost traction.

It was a rare stumble at Rockingham for the IHRA champ who is bidding for his 10th consecutive victory on the North Carolina track, a streak that dates to 2001.

With Millican, points leader Doug Foley and former IHRA record holder Andrew Cowin all experiencing traction problems, McClenathan's 4.549 was all the more impressive.

Traction problems were not limited to Top Fuel.

In the Torco Racing Fuels Pro Nitro Funny Car class, contested at Rockingham for the first time since 1998 and in the eMax Drag Racing Series for the first time since '92, pre-race favorites Gary Densham of Bellflower, Calif., and Bob Gilbertson of Gastonia, N.C., both experienced traction problems.

As a result, the first day spotlight belonged to Dale Creasy Jr. of Beecher, Ill., who was clocked in 5.132 seconds at 250.42 mph to lead a short field of seven cars.

Densham, the 2004 winner of the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Ind., drag racing's biggest single event, was clocked in 5.481 seconds at only 184 mph. Winner of the season-opening IHRA Lone Star Nationals at San Antonio, Texas, the former auto shop teacher will have two opportunities to improve his position on Saturday.

Other first day leaders were Tommy D'Aprile of Port Charlotte, Fla., in Torco Race Fuels Pro Modified; Frank Gugliotta of Mt. Airy, Md., in Torco Race Fuels Pro Stock; and reigning series champion Rob Atchison of London, Ontario, Canada, in Alcohol Funny Car.

D'Aprile was the quickest of the 32 who made qualifying runs in the increasingly popular Pro Mod category. He drove his 1963 Chevrolet Corvette replica to a time of 6.139 seconds at 231.24 mph to take the provisional No. 1 with Rick DiStefano of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, second at 6.157 and Jim Halsey of Street, Md., third at 6.183.

Asheboro's Mike Bell, the track record holder at 6.046 seconds, was the quickest Carolinian at 6.198 seconds, good enough for the No. 4 spot ahead of Chip King of Semora, N.C., and Josh Hernandez of Conroe, Texas, both at 6.201.

-ihra-

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Series Drag
Drivers Clay Millican , Bob Gilbertson , Chip King , Andrew Cowin , Dale Creasy Jr. , Cory McClenathan , Doug Foley , Jim Halsey , Mike Bell , Rick DiStefano , Frank Gugliotta