MCCLENATHAN IS RUNNER-UP AT U.S. NATIONALS CLERMONT, Ind. (Sept. 6, 2010) - No. 2 qualifier Cory McClenathan continued his hot streak of reaching final rounds this year, landing in his seventh of the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series in...
MCCLENATHAN IS RUNNER-UP AT U.S. NATIONALS
CLERMONT, Ind. (Sept. 6, 2010) - No. 2 qualifier Cory McClenathan continued his hot streak of reaching final rounds this year, landing in his seventh of the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series in today's 56th annual U.S. Nationals and the first of six races of the Countdown to the Championship. He won three of those, but today he lost his second straight final-round match-up to points leader and No. 1 qualifier Larry Dixon.
Driving the FRAM Top Fuel dragster, arguably the hottest and most consistent rail in the series this year, McClenathan first eliminated Terry McMillen with a round-best 3.811-second elapsed time at 324.05 mph, then dismissed TJ Zizzo with another round-best 3.821/321.27. In an all-Don Schumacher Racing semifinal contest against his teammate Tony Schumacher, both cars launched with identical reaction times and both struck their tires, resulting in a pedalfest to the finish line. "Cory Mac" recovered first and crossed the stripe in 4.342 seconds at 236.05 mph, to Schumacher's losing 4.406/235.76.
McClenathan's final-round face-off against Dixon produced an excellent race for the fans under hotter conditions than they had seen the previous three days. It also resulted in McClenathan's fifth round loss to Dixon this year. They raced wheel to wheel down the 1000-foot race track, but it was Dixon first across the line with a 3.838/319.60 to McClenathan's 3.870/319.82. Margin of victory: .0456 of a second.
Cory Mac held on to second place in the point standings, and is just 46 markers shy of first place.
"Last year we went into the Countdown in Concord, N.C., not Indy and next thing you know you're at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis and you've got all the drama of that, you're at home (he lives in Fisher's, Ind.), it's Don Schumacher Racing's home, and it's early in the Countdown. So, yeah, that's a lot to chew," said the two-time U.S. Nationals champion.
"I was thinking about that up there right when we started the car, so I had plenty of motivation today and that's a good thing. Sometimes the pressure can make you the best and we were good, and everybody did a great job.
"You know what, you always think it's your time," he said of his chances of finally beating Dixon this year. "I mean, the tables will turn eventually and they just have a very stellar car right now. Larry is a good driver. We brought our A-game today; we had a good day.
"(Crew chiefs) Todd (Okuhara) and Phil (Shuler) and the FRAM boys did their job with their excellent tuning abilities. In the semis, I was able to kind of help them. It's my job to help when I can, and that's a big deal.
"While it's great to get to the finals in Indy, you want to win it, so it was tough to lose. We just need to keep making sure they know we're there.
"Larry and his wife both said at the other end today that they were scared. They said they were worried; they knew we had a good car. Right now, if there's a car out there that should be scaring everybody, it should be this FRAM Top Fuel dragster."
Next up is the third annual NHRA Carolinas Nationals in Concord, N.C., Sept. 17-19.