Baytown: Cory McClenathan final report

McCLENATHAN LANDS IN SECOND STRAIGHT FINAL ROUND IN HOUSTON BAYTOWN, Texas (March 29, 2009) - Cory McClenathan and the FRAM Tough Guard Top Fuel Dragster team, whose crew members came over from the Funny Car class this year, are adapting well to...

McCLENATHAN LANDS IN SECOND STRAIGHT FINAL ROUND IN HOUSTON

BAYTOWN, Texas (March 29, 2009) - Cory McClenathan and the FRAM Tough Guard Top Fuel Dragster team, whose crew members came over from the Funny Car class this year, are adapting well to the changes. Crew chiefs Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler tuned the FRAM Tough Guard car to its second straight final round of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series and nearly came home with a victory today at the NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park.

They're not that disappointed, however, as they were defeated by their Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher on a holeshot in the final round, and they're on their way to producing a killer race car. Schumacher won his first race of the year and the 125th for DSR overall as a team in all classes.

McClenathan first defeated rookie Shawn Langdon with a 3.873-second pass at 311.27 mph in the opening round of eliminations on a clear day that was slowly heating up as it wore on. He then dismissed points leader Antron Brown in the quarterfinal with a 3.909/303.23 on a holeshot advantage (3.883/310.63 for Brown). Joe Hartley was easy pickings in the semifinal round when he lost traction early, giving McClenathan a 3.985/296.70 victory.

The final round was a thrill for the fans, as they watched the DSR pair go nose to nose to the finish line. It was Schumacher, however, claiming the victory on a holeshot advantage with a 3.881/314.75 pass to McClenathan's quicker but losing 3.880/313.66.

"Live by the sword, die by the sword, and that's how it is," said McClenathan, whose team had changed the throttle system on the car after he red-lighted in Phoenix. "And I thought about that going up there. I asked myself, Should I stage it harder? I decided not to. I decided to stage it light and learn how to make this pedal work for me.

"I'm trying to get used to it. And I need to be more consistent with it. It's going to take some time. After driving a certain way for 18 years it's not that easy to teach an old dog new tricks.

"Tony won on a holeshot. We're teammates. It's all good for everybody, DSR, all the way around. We're gaining points, and so is Tony. It's a good thing.

"I do feel bad that I couldn't bring these FRAM Tough Guard guys their first Wally. These guys earned it all the way, all weekend long and all day today.

"You win one on a holeshot, you lose one on a holeshot. That's the way this game is played and I can deal with that. But two final rounds in two races, I'm happy with that.

"Todd and Phil and the FRAM guys have done a great job. We get everything we need to win from DSR and Don Schumacher and a lot of help from (team manager) Lee Beard. So I will just keep marching on. I'm smiling because it's been a good day."

By the numbers, this was the duo's sixth final round against each other, the third as DSR teammates (Tony has won all three). They met here in the final in Houston in 2005, where Schumacher won. In all, Schumacher leads 2-4 in final-round wins against McClenathan.

Next up is the NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway next weekend, April 3-5.

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Tony Schumacher , Cory McClenathan , Joe Hartley , Don Schumacher , Shawn Langdon