Chicago John Force, Cory McClenathan Lead Eliminations

JOLIET, Ill. - John Force will go for a record-breaking 86th NHRA victory Sunday as the top qualifier in Funny Car at the Prestone Route 66 Nationals. Cory McClenathan, Ron Krisher, Matt Hines and Bob Panella also will lead their respective ...

JOLIET, Ill. - John Force will go for a record-breaking 86th NHRA victory Sunday as the top qualifier in Funny Car at the Prestone Route 66 Nationals. Cory McClenathan, Ron Krisher, Matt Hines and Bob Panella also will lead their respective categories into tomorrow's 10 a.m. eliminations at Route 66 Raceway. The $2 million race is the 10th of 23 events in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

In racing completed Saturday, Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Randy Daniels were winners in Holley Pro Stock Dominator Duel bonus events. Coughlin defeated older brother Troy for his second-straight $50,000 Pro Stock duel victory, while Daniels earned $20,000 by defeating Bob Panella in the Pro Stock Truck segment of bonus events that feature the eight quickest cars and trucks from the last year.

Both Coughlin and Daniels are eligible for lucrative 'double-up' bonuses from the NHRA should they post victories tomorrow. Coughlin can claim an additional $25,000, while Daniels could earn an extra $10,000.

Force, 51, claimed his 96th No. 1 qualifying award with a track record run of 4.851 seconds at 312.78 mph in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. He'll face local favorite and Funny Car rookie John Lawson in the first round of eliminations.

"We used today to get a baseline setup for tomorrow because you don't run 4.80s on Sunday, you try to run 4.90s and be consistent," said Force, who has never won at the quarter-mile located just southwest of Chicago. "We've got the new kid from Joliet in the first round tomorrow. There's a number of people I hate to race and a new guy is one of 'em. I don't know him that well, but the fans do. They're cheering for the hometown hero. If he can beat John Force tomorrow he'll have a good story to share with his buddies." If Force can win however, what a story he'll have to tell. With a victory, Force will become the NHRA's all-time win leader, moving past Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden, who is currently tied with Force for the mark with 85 wins.

"I'd just like to win it at this race for Austin (Coil, crew chief)," Force said. "This is his hometown. He used to race the old Chi-Town Hustler, which is one of the most famous cars in drag racing. He's got a ton of friends out here and people cheerin' him on. Besides, these Chicago fans are great. I'd love to win it here for them, too."

McClenathan powered his Joe Gibbs-owned MBNA dragster to his 25th career No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel, recording a career-best 4.547 at 317.72 , the quickest run of the year under the new 90-percent nitro rules established by the NHRA.

"Wes (Cerny, crew chief) put some new parts on the car and said hang on kid," McClenthan said. "I'd say he was right. That car really puts you back in the seat when it's on a run. I can't believe I had my career-best with the 90-precent rules. These crew chiefs are like mad scientists and when everything comes together on a run it's a dream to drive."

Krisher earned his second No. 1 qualifying award of the season in Pro Stock, posting a track record run of 6.868 at 200.14 in his Eagle One Pontiac Firebird.

Panella claimed the top position in Pro Stock Truck, covering the distance in 7.477 at 179.61 in a Chevy S-10.

Hines took top qualifying honors in Pro Stock Motorcycle, as he sped down the quarter-mile to a track record run of 7.200 at 186.61 on his Eagle One Suzuki.

-NHRA-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Matt Hines , Jeg Coughlin , Bob Panella , John Force , Ron Krisher , Randy Daniels , Bob Glidden , Cory McClenathan