Denver: Cory McClenathan preview

Cory McClenathan looks for consistency in his quest to be "King of the Mountain". MORRISON, Colo. -- This weekend's 23rd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, the 13th of 23 national events on the NHRA POWERade® Drag Racing Series, marks the...

Cory McClenathan looks for consistency in his quest to be "King of the Mountain".

MORRISON, Colo. -- This weekend's 23rd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, the 13th of 23 national events on the NHRA POWERade® Drag Racing Series, marks the start of the second half of the 2002 schedule. It is also the start of the "Western Swing" -- three consecutive weekend of competition in Denver, Seattle and Sonoma, Calif.

Cory McClenathan, 39, driver of the Henkelman & Baca Motorsports Top Fuel Dragster, looks for a return to the team's first-half consistency as his quest to become "King of the Mountain" at Bandimere Speedway, which sits at an elevation of 5,860 feet above sea level, in Morrison, Colo., just west of Denver. The first two of four rounds of qualifying get underway Friday. The final two rounds conclude on Saturday and set the field for Sunday's eliminations.

"The one thing we have lacked the last couple of races is consistency," said McClenathan, who is fourth in NHRA Top Fuel POWERade point standings entering this race. "It's been tough lately and we need to return to basics at Denver and get back to the consistent mode that got us to the later rounds in the early part of the season. If we do, then maybe we'll be king of Bandimere Mountain.

"In the points battle, we need to regain third so that we can set our sights on catching Kenny (Bernstein) in second. Catching Bernstein is going to be a tough thing to do. Dixon, even missing the last race, still is the car to beat and maybe not even on our radar screen.

"We need to start racing our own race instead of trying to run with those guys (Dixon and Bernstein). We can't run the numbers they're running. There are very few Top Fuel teams out there that can run with them on a consistent basis. So, I think we'd almost rather go back to going down the track every time. We can't beat ourselves in the first few rounds of eliminations. No matter how you say it, it all goes back to being consistent and giving ourselves a chance to beat the beer cars."

McClenathan reflected on why the "Western Swing" is hard on man and machine.

"Parts are the key to the three races coming up. If you're good on parts you can make the swing a little bit easier. If you hurt a lot of parts the first or second race, it makes the remaining races all the more tougher. It's harder for the guys working on the car than it is for the driver or anybody else.

"The lack of days to work on the car between races puts an additional strain on everybody. It kind of separates the men from the boys because when you're racing every weekend there's no time to worry about the weekend behind you.

"From a driver's perspective I kind of like the three races back-to back-to-back. It keeps you in the car three weeks in a row. Keeps you going. Keeps you on your toes. Your reflexes are better. Personally, I don't like several weeks off between races. I'm looking forward to getting back to work."

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Cory McClenathan