"Root Beer" Hedge Sears Point Preview

May 30, 1999, Los Angeles, CA--Sometimes you can't leave well enough alone. . . and sometimes situations dictate radical overhauls just when things seemed to coalesce properly. . . such is the quandary faced by "Root Beer" Hedge as his Mastercam...

May 30, 1999, Los Angeles, CA--Sometimes you can't leave well enough alone. . . and sometimes situations dictate radical overhauls just when things seemed to coalesce properly. . . such is the quandary faced by "Root Beer" Hedge as his Mastercam AA/Fuel Dragster team prepares to square off against the creme de la creme of the front-motored Top Fuel circuit this weekend at the Goodguys 11th Nitro Nationals at Sears Point Int'l Raceway, Sonoma, CA.

Since a successful appearance at the season opening March Meet in Bakersfield upon which the team runner-upped as well as scored a career best elapsed time for driver "Wild Bill" Alexander (6.08), the always-wily Hedge has resorted to making some unspecified changes in the clutch can as well as adding more nozzles to the fuel system in an attempt to lean out a couple of cylinders that have recalcitrantly remained too wet. Moreover, both Hedge & Alexander realize that despite career-best performances last month the bar has been raised by the accomplishments of Bob McLennan's Chevy-powered Champion Speed Shop railjob, which recorded an unprecedented 5.87 at Bakersfield.

"We've made quite a few changes after Bakersfield--you can't go forward unless you make change," said Alexander. Then, after likening the fuel system changes to moves in a chess match, Alexander noted that, "This should bring around the midrange and the top end of the car." He also added, "The air will be good since we're right there at the ocean, but whether the track can take it. . . " What makes the challenge even more daunting is the conventional wisdom that the light weight of its Champion's small block Chevrolet engine enables driver Sammy Hale to manuever over slippery surfaces with less chance of traction problems.

Ergo, the anticipation of an unforgiving surface has compelled the Mastercam team to calm down the clutch in the first 60' of the run. "To make the cars run a '5', you can't 60' 'em," is how Bill explained the paradox of softening the leave in an attempt to get more aggressive. "The 60' has to be down around a .115 to make the thing really haul ass, the clutch can come in more aggressively 100 or 200--even 300 feet out. Let it leave soft and then get more aggressive with the clutch." Alexander declined to share specific information on how the team will accomplish this. . .

Although one key team member refered to this weekend endeavors as "going on safari: Chevy hunting," Alexander is using this weekend to focus on what is going on in his lane and improve his performance off of the pad. "I try my best not to even consider who's in the other lane." He also plans to ignore the reality that this weekend presents an opportunity for the team to catch and surpass Jim "Holy Smokes" Murphy and his W.W. II team, the only outfit ahead of the Mastercam team in the Goodguys VRA Points Race.

Top Fuel Qualifying for the Nitro Nationals commences at 11 AM on Saturday, May 1st; Eliminations begin at 11 AM, Sunday, May 2. SPIR is located at the junction of Hiways 37 & 121, north of San Francisco.

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