Charlotte: Cory McClenathan final report

McCLENATHAN WINS NHRA CAROLINA NATIONALS, TAKES POINTS LEAD CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 20, 2009) - Cory McClenathan won his first national event since the spring race in Las Vegas in 2008 today at the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway, driving...

McCLENATHAN WINS NHRA CAROLINA NATIONALS, TAKES POINTS LEAD

CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 20, 2009) - Cory McClenathan won his first national event since the spring race in Las Vegas in 2008 today at the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway, driving the FRAM Tough Guard Top Fuel Dragster.

He claimed his 31st national event triumph in 57 final rounds, his first win of the season in four final rounds, and now leads the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Countdown to 1 playoffs points for the first time since 1998. "Cory Mac" also claimed the 134th victory for Don Schumacher Racing since 1998 out of the 255th final round for DSR.

En route to the final, he dismissed Morgan Lucas with his stellar elapsed time of 3.861 seconds at 315.05 mph, and followed that up with another 3.861/315.86 to defeat Larry Dixon in the quarterfinals. His winning match-up against Doug Foley in the semifinal produced another solid 3.868/314.31, and he bettered that in the final round against Shawn Langdon with another stunning 3.857/312.64. Not bad for the No. 9 qualifier who posted a what now seems an incredibly slow 3.877/310.84 during qualifying.

"You feel bigger than life sometimes and that's the moments that I think I cherish the most," said McClenathan. "You're going down through there and you want that win light to come on so bad, you're almost willing your car to the other end, and when it did today, I was just overcome with Oh, my God, it's been so long.

"Going a year and a half without winning a race, that's a long time. My teammate (six-time world champion Tony Schumacher) wins all the time, so it's easy for him to say, but for me it is that very moment, right then. It's unbelievable.

"This is for (crew chiefs) Todd Okuhara, Phil Shuler and all the FRAM Tough Guard guys who work on this car. I'm just trying to do the right thing in the cockpit, so I'm just really happy."

As for the big change in performance between qualifying and eliminations, "The FRAM Tough Guard car just hadn't been itself, and the parts were unhappy and I saw that," he said. "And all of a sudden today everything turned around. It got happy and it ran good. The FRAM guys found a couple of things last night. They don't want to tell anybody what it is. It is something we've been trying and we found one little thing that changed everything.

"I had more confidence this morning knowing it was going to go from A to B and not hurt itself, and it did."

Next up is the NHRA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex in Dallas, Sept. 25-27.

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Tony Schumacher , Cory McClenathan , Cory Mac , Morgan Lucas , Doug Foley