Hill dazzles in final round as entire team sets sights on Race Day battles BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 21) -- The final round of professional qualifying for the Colonel's Truck Accessories Nationals was highlighted by a pair of spectacular runs by ...
Hill dazzles in final round as entire team sets sights on Race Day battles
BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 21) -- The final round of professional qualifying for the Colonel's Truck Accessories Nationals was highlighted by a pair of spectacular runs by legendary Pennzoil driver Eddie Hill and back-to-back Winston champ Gary Scelzi. Midway through the session Hill blistered Brainerd International Raceway's track with a stunning 4.575-second pass at 316.82 mph. The time temporarily gave him the No. 1 spot on the qualifying ladder until Scelzi slightly bettered the mark with the day's final Top Fuel lap, a 4.564-second squirt at 309.98 mph.
Hill's heroics highlighted a great session of qualifying for Team Pennzoil. For the seventh time this year all three Pennzoil-sponsored pros will start Sunday's elimination action with a shot at the event's championship after each man successfully qualified in his respective class.
Here is the final rundown of each driver's best qualifying effort.
Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, delighted his adoring fans with the event's second quickest lap, a 4.575-second pass at 316.82 mph. The mark sets up a Sunday morning sudden-death showdown with fellow legend Kenny Bernstein, who struggled to qualify in the 15th spot with a 4.723-second, 284.42-mph lap. Bernstein and Hill have raced each other three times this year with Bernstein holding a perfect 3-0 mark.
"We were having a great time until that young rascal Gary Scelzi came in there and showed us up," Hill said with a laugh. "Obviously we're thrilled with that lap. It actually could have been a little bit better but that was pretty close to perfect. It's a great feeling to be starting Sunday's title chase from a top perch like that and after finishing qualifying with such a nice run.
"We start with lane choice over Kenny, which is a nice advantage. But he's No. 2 in the championship points race for a reason -- he has a great racecar. I guess he owes us a win the way our head-to-head battles have been this year. Hopefully I'll collect tomorrow."
Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, ran a steady 7.035-second lap in Round 4 but will use his earlier pass of 7.030 seconds at 194.58 mph to finish qualifying in the No. 10 spot. Thomas will face one of his engine customers, Ron Krisher, in the first round of eliminations. Krisher qualified seventh with a pass of 7.025 seconds at 194.63 mph.
"We're very pleased overall," Thomas said. "We just got started a little late. Both of today's runs were stout. If we had this set-up yesterday in the one session when everyone else qualified (Round 2) then we would be up near the top of the field. But we'll be fine. We're right where we want to be and you sure won't here any complaining out of this pit."
Bruce Allen, the driver of The Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac, will use his Friday night pass of 7.011 seconds at 195.28 mph to start Sunday's action out of the No. 5 qualifying spot. Allen will open against crowd favorite Tom Hammonds, whose real job is playing professional basketball with the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves. Hammonds finished the qualifying sessions in the 12th slot after recording a 7.040-second lap at 194.69 mph.
"It's great to have our best qualifying effort of the year at a track we truly love," said Allen, a three-time champion of this event. "This car is running well and it's very encouraging that we're starting to come around like this. It's been a lot of hard work to get this car straightened up and we haven't quite figured it completely out, but we're close. If we could put four runs together tomorrow it would be such a lift for this Outlaw team. I'm ready to go."