Atlanta Pennzoil Finals Round One Notes

COMMERCE, Ga. (May 16) - Led by the legendary Eddie Hill, Team Pennzoil charged out of Sunday morning's first round of elimination racing at the 19th Advance Auto Parts Nationals with two of its three drivers advancing to the quarterfinal ...

COMMERCE, Ga. (May 16) - Led by the legendary Eddie Hill, Team Pennzoil charged out of Sunday morning's first round of elimination racing at the 19th Advance Auto Parts Nationals with two of its three drivers advancing to the quarterfinal round.

Aside from Hill, who bettered Jim Head in his first round race, Pennzoil Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas will also continue his quest for the race's crown when racing resumes later this afternoon. Unfortunately, fellow Pro Stocker Bruce Allen fell victim to Jim Yates in Round 1 and was eliminated.

Here's a recap of each man's Round 1 lap.

Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, held off Jim Head in the opening round despite slightly smoking his tires near the finish line. Hill ran a 4.698-second lap at 291.95 mph to Head's 4.874-second pass at 259.46 mph.

"The car ran pretty good until just near the end of the track when we hazed the tires slightly," Hill said. "Fortunately, we had already built up enough of a lead that we were able to take the win. It looks as though we made the right tune up call. We'll have to dissect the data to see if something went wrong at the long end or if it was the track itself."

Hill advances to the quarterfinal round with lane choice over Tony Schumacher, who ran an uncontested 5.069 at 207.94 mph after his first-round opponent Cory McClenathan broke at the starting line.

"I love it a bunch," said Hill, referring to the lane choice advantage he earned. "It really means a lot at this track and it's a nice bonus to have but it doesn't win the race for you. We still have to be ready to go if we want to get to the semis."

Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, buried current Winston points leader Kurt Johnson in the opening round with a 6.986-second lap at 198.61 mph to Johnson's 8.385-second pass at 138.14 mph.

"I didn't have a good light (0.511 seconds to Johnson's 0.475 seconds) but the car made up for it this time," Thomas said. "We switched up the clutch pedal and I'm just not used to it yet. Now I know what to expect and I should be ready in Round 2.

"The car ran okay. It felt like it was starting to shake in first and second gear so I shifted early to second and third. That definitely cost us a little time. Fortunately we ran fast enough to keep lane choice because we all saw how crucial it is at this track."

Seven of eight cars won in the right lane in Round 1.

Thomas will face good friend Greg Anderson in Round 2. Anderson beat Troy Coughlin with a 6.987-second pass at 198.50 mph, thereby yielding lane choice to Thomas by one-thousandths of a second.

Bruce Allen, the driver of The Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, lost his first round race against two-time Winston champion Jim Yates when his car shook violently just off the starting line. Yates went on to card a 6.946-second pass at 198.76 mph to Allen's aborted run of 14.113 seconds at 60.50 mph.

"Like just about everyone else in that lane we just blew the tires right off," Allen said. "That thing spun up immediately. It felt like I never had any traction at all. That proves the advantage of lane choice. Your No. 1 goal at every race is to get in the field. A real close No. 2 goal is to be in the top half of the field so that you have lane choice. Especially at tracks like this where one lane is so much better than the other.

"Overall, this weekend was much more positive for us than the past few races have been. It feels like we made a lot of progress and that we're on the way to turning this thing around. I'm encouraged by the way the car ran and the way the engines performed. I'm starting to think that we're not too far away from having a car that can be in the top half of the field at every race. Then we can start to work on goal No. 3, which involves getting a trophy at the end of the day."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Mike Thomas , Troy Coughlin , Kurt Johnson , Greg Anderson , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen