Denver: Cory McClenathan preview

McClenathan Says Round Wins Now Are Critical in Pursuit of POWERade Championship The drive from Eastern Tennessee to Denver was a long one (1500 miles), giving Cory McClenathan plenty of time to think about NHRA's new Countdown to the ...

McClenathan Says Round Wins Now Are Critical in Pursuit of POWERade Championship

The drive from Eastern Tennessee to Denver was a long one (1500 miles), giving Cory McClenathan plenty of time to think about NHRA's new Countdown to the Championship. He's definitely not the only one pondering their playoff fates as the run for a top eight finish after 17 races heats up.

The Mopar Mile-High Nationals this weekend at Bandimere Speedway is the 13th event on the POWERade Series schedule. This is the beginning of the traditional Western Swing -- races at Denver, Seattle and Sonoma -- with a major difference: The teams have already completed three events in succession (Englishtown, N.J., Norwalk, Ohio, and Bristol, Tenn.) to make this six in a row.

"Obviously, the big thing on everyone's mind is the points chase," said McClenathan, driver of the Scott Griffin Motorsports FRAM Top Fuel dragster. "Right now we are 10th (539 points), but we're only 12 points out of eighth place and 45 points, a little more than two rounds (at 20 points per round) out of seventh. We have to be consistent and win rounds on any Sunday, but we haven't been doing that. We need to fix the problem areas or otherwise we'll find ourselves in ninth or 10th place and on the outside looking in, watching the top eight drivers decide the championship."

McClenathan has been successful at Bandimere Speedway, winning two times (1997-98) in three final rounds. He swept the Swing in '97, adding wins at Seattle and Sonoma, Calif.

"It's hard to take your mind off the POWERade championship," said McClenathan, who has 29 victories and four series runner-ups in 15 years of competition, but no championships. "We are in a position where we can go win some rounds . . . maybe get to the semifinals and stay ahead of the drivers behind us and try to overtake one or two drivers in front of us.

"All-in-all, it's anybody's game for sixth, seventh and eighth places right now. I just hope we can step up and get to the next level by doing well at Denver, Seattle and Sonoma."

McClenathan and the FRAM team won the first round at Bristol, Tenn., Sunday with the fourth-quickest time of the round (4.622 seconds) before losing to eventual race winner Brandon Bernstein in the quarterfinals.

-credit: sgr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Cory McClenathan , Brandon Bernstein