Dallas Finals Round One Team Pennzoil Report

Hill scorches Texas track in Round 1 DALLAS (Oct. 25) -- Pennzoil Top Fuel driver Eddie Hill kicked off the elimination rounds of the 13th annual Revell Nationals with a fraction-of-an-inch win over friend and rival Jim Head. The ...

Hill scorches Texas track in Round 1

DALLAS (Oct. 25) -- Pennzoil Top Fuel driver Eddie Hill kicked off the elimination rounds of the 13th annual Revell Nationals with a fraction-of-an-inch win over friend and rival Jim Head. The split-second decision brought the appreciative crowd at the Texas Motorplex out of their seats for the first of many exciting Round 1 races.

Hill's Pennzoil teammates, Pro Stock drivers Mike Thomas and Bruce Allen, both were eliminated in the opening round. Thomas fought through traction problems while Allen bowed out to No. 1 qualifier Warren Johnson.

Here's an in-depth look at each driver's first round race.

Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, used his best lap of the weekend in Round 1 - a breathtaking side-by-side race against Jim Head that Hill won by 0.004 of a second -- to gain a berth in the quarterfinals. Head got the initial jump at the starting line, 0.461 seconds to 0.523 seconds, but Hill's Pennzoil machine caught Head at the far end of the track and nipped him at the finish line. The final numbers saw Hill take the victory in 4.622 seconds at 308.32 mph to Head's 4.688 second lap at 302.62 mph.

"I couldn't tell who won until the (win) light went on," Hill said. "It was that close. Credit the crew for that one. The car was absolutely perfect. We had no shake, no tire spin; it was as smooth as could be. I could have made that run down a dirt road." The lap marked the 450th four-second pass of Hill's career. He ran the sport's first four-second pass at the Texas Motorplex on April 9, 1988.

Hill will face reigning Winston points champion and current Winston points leader Gary Scelzi in Round 2. Scelzi advanced to the quarterfinals despite blowing his engine midway through his opening round race against Randy Parks. His sub-standard 5.202-second pass at 194.17 mph awards lane choice to Hill. The two men have raced each other three times this year with Scelzi holding a 2-1 edge on the scorecard.

"We're not changing anything on the car," Hill said. "With the car running the way it is and having lane choice over Scelzi in the second round, I sure like the way this day has started. The Motorplex has always been a magical place for us. I hope that continues."

Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, suffered a first-round loss to Robert Patrick. The start of the race favored Thomas (0.481 seconds to 0.511 seconds) but he quickly drifted out of the groove and neared the centerline forcing him to shut his engine off to avoid an accident. Patrick took the win in 7.053 seconds at 197.23 mph to Thomas' 9.856-second pass at 94.45 mph.

"We left the line with the clutch set-up way too high and I just spun right out of the groove," Thomas said. "By the time it hooked up, Patrick was way ahead of me so I just turned it off. I knew I couldn't catch him. This is really disappointing for us. Even a mediocre run would have won that round and I could have really made a move in the points. I guess the bright side is that at least I didn't lose any ground."

Thomas has one 13 elimination round races this year and captured the title of the Inaugural Route 66 Nationals in Chicago in May. He is currently in seventh place in the Winston points standings.

Bruce Allen, the driver of the Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, led his first round race against 1998 points champion Warren Johnson until the last 400 feet of the track when Johnson slipped by Allen to take the win. The official numbers saw Johnson cross the lights in 6.939 seconds at 199.96 mph to Allen's 6.987-second lap at 196.93 mph.

"You can't run the baddest guy on the circuit and expect him to screw up," Allen said. "We should have qualified better and then we wouldn't have opened against Warren. That was a real good run for us and I probably would have won a lot of the other races in the first round. We feel good about the way the car is running but we sure don't feel good about losing.

"To have given Warren a run for his money gives us a lot of confidence heading into Houston. We know this particular car is real good. We just haven't put it all together a bunch of good runs in one weekend yet. I believe we will soon. Maybe Houston's the place."

Allen has recorded 11 elimination round wins this year.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Mike Thomas , Robert Patrick , Gary Scelzi , Bruce Allen