Gainesville: Cory McClenathan final summary

Cory Mac advances to semifinals at Gators GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 20, 2005) -- One of the many stories that unfolded this weekend at the 36th annual NHRA Mac Tools Gatornationals, is the resurgence of Cory McClenathan, ...

Cory Mac advances to semifinals at Gators

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 20, 2005) -- One of the many stories that unfolded this weekend at the 36th annual NHRA Mac Tools Gatornationals, is the resurgence of Cory McClenathan, driver of the Carrier Boyz FRAM AirHog Top Fuel dragster.

McClenathan and the Carrier Boyz Racing team, led by crew chief Todd Smith, uncorked three consistent runs during qualifying of 4.506, 4.529 and 4.497 seconds. The only thing that prevented the team from adding a fourth outstanding pass was a battery problem in Friday's second session.

In the opening round of eliminations, McClenathan turned back Scott Weis. It was a 4.573-second pass for Cory Mac. Weis, with his engine giving up near the finish line, recorded a time of 4.732 seconds at a slowing 284.81 mph.

"That was a fantastic run. We decided to play it safe and were able to maintain consistency from qualifying... I can't wait for second round," said McClenathan.

In the second round, Cory Mac's FRAM AirHog dragster was paired against the second-year Top Fuel driver Morgan Lucas, who pilots Hall of Famer Joe Amato's car.

Lucas was away first at the light. It was a great drag race with McClenathan going by Lucas about the 1000-foot mark and crossing the finish line strip first in 4.631 seconds at 320.17 mph. Lucas trailed slightly with a run of 4.706 seconds posted on the Gainesville Raceway timing lights.

In the semifinals, McClenathan, from Lake Havasu City, Ariz., had lane choice over Doug Kalitta.

On a track that has not been kind to McClenathan, he broke the big Goodyears loose shortly after hitting the throttle and Kalitta set sights on the finish line. While Kalitta crossed the win strip in 4.631 seconds, Cory could only coast and watch.

"There's so much parity in the class that just to get past the first round is like hitting a home run," reflected McClenathan as he recalled the day. "I'm really proud of (crew chief) Todd Smith and his guys. They brought this team a long way this weekend.

"Bob Bauer, on the clutch, and Todd are working really great together. Those two along with the entire team have brought this team to a level that we can be considered a contender. We have turned this FRAM AirHog program around in a big way.

"Unfortunately, for the guys it wouldn't have mattered if we hadn't smoked the tires. For the first time since I started racing I had the strangest thing happen. I couldn't see the starting lights and had to guess when to leave. Anybody that has seen my reaction time will know I didn't make a good guess."

"I'm proud of these guys," said Andy Carrier. "We've been trying to achieve consistency with this FRAM AirHog dragster and made big strides this weekend. We made the semifinals this weekend; maybe we can improve next time out. I can't wait until we race in Houston."

Unofficially, McClenathan has 160 points and is ninth in the NHRA POWERade Top Fuel point standings.

Next up for Cory Mac and the Carrier Boyz FRAM AirHog Top Fuel dragster is the NHRA 18th annual O'Reilly Spring Nationals which will be held at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Texas, just outside Houston. The event will unfold April 8-10th with professional qualifying beginning on Friday, April 8th.

ESPN2 will air same-day television coverage of eliminations today (Mar.20) from 5 until 7 p.m. Television times are Eastern Time (ET) and subject to change at anytime. Check local listings.

-cbr-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Joe Amato , Doug Kalitta , Cory McClenathan , Cory Mac , Morgan Lucas , Todd Smith