Houston Eddie Hill Sets Career-Best speed

Hill sets career-best speed in Round 1 HOUSTON (April 9) -- The first of four professional drag races scheduled for the Lone Star state in 1999 officially began Friday afternoon at Houston Raceway Park with the opening round of qualifying for...

Hill sets career-best speed in Round 1

HOUSTON (April 9) -- The first of four professional drag races scheduled for the Lone Star state in 1999 officially began Friday afternoon at Houston Raceway Park with the opening round of qualifying for the 12th Annual O'Reilly Nationals presented by Pennzoil. While clear skies and hot temperatures managed to slow the historically quick track, many drivers were still able to post some impressive times and speeds.

Here's a quick recap of Team Pennzoil's Round 1 effort.

Eddie Hill, the driver of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, reached the fastest speed of his 43-year racing career when he registered 316.38 mph during a 4.651-second first round pass. The mark helped put Hill into the No. 6 spot of the Top Fuel field.

"That's pretty neat to hit a career-best speed right out of the box like that," Hill said. "It's a real good indicator of how hard this car wants to run. We had actually backed her down a little after we saw (Gary) Scelzi smoke his tires right before we ran. Consequentially, the launch was a little lazy. Then the car just took off. The tune-up looks good and we should be in good shape for the rest of the weekend."

Bruce Allen, the driver of The Outlaw Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, successfully dipped into the six-second range with an opening round lap of 6.996 seconds at 197.59 mph. The time puts the Arlington, Texas resident into the No. 8 spot with three rounds to go.

"This was our first competitive lap with this new car and we're pretty pleased," Allen said. "You've got to start somewhere. I would have been tickled if we had been three or four hundredths of a second quicker but I'm confident that as the qualifying sessions get better we'll get better also. We plan on switching motors and that should definitely help. Plus we'll be in the right lane tonight and it seems to be a tad quicker."

Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, aborted his first qualifying attempt after losing traction near the starting line and spinning his tires. Thomas eventually went through the timing lights in 9.850 seconds at 116.92 mph.

"We obviously missed the clutch set-up but I think we'll be fine," Thomas said. "I've got my entire racing staff here including my engine builders and as soon as we all get our thoughts together we should be flying. I love this track and my car loves this track so I really don't want to miss any more chances to race. We'll be ready for tonight's session."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Bruce Allen