Las Vegas: Cory McClenathan eliminations summary

Eliminations: Cory McClenathan Qualified No. 2: 4.608 seconds at 320.89 mph Round ...

Eliminations: Cory McClenathan
Qualified No. 2: 4.608 seconds at 320.89 mph
Round #1: Cory Mac (4.732/318.77) def. Doug Kalitta (4.791/311.05)
Round #2 (Quarter-Finals): Cory Mac (4.769/303.78) def. Melanie Troxel (6.822/147.26)
Round #3 (Semifinals): Cory Mac (4.701/313.80) def. Kenny Bernstein (4.793/313.66)
Round #4 (Finals): Cory Mac (4.728/131.88) runner-up to Larry Dixon (4.639/319.29)

McClenathan runner-up at NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals.

LAS VEGAS -- In search of his 27th win, Cory McClenathan, from Anaheim, Calif., driver of the Henkelman & Baca Motorsports Top Fuel Dragster, turned back Doug Kalitta from Ann Arbor, Mich., in the opening round of the NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

McClenathan ran the quarter mile in 4.732 seconds at 318.77 mph, while Kalitta recorded an elapsed time of 4.791 seconds at 311.05 mph in a losing effort.

"It a little warmer today than yesterday," said McClenathan regarding his first round victory. "The team was trying to fight that. We felt we could run in the neighborhood of a 4.75 (second). (Crew chief) Wes Cerny turned back some of the timers so the car wouldn't be so aggressive out there. The track was getting slick. It got out about 200 feet and started to shake. I thought it was going to smoke the tires. I peddled it once and it griped right up and went down through there. I knew it was a close race because I could hear Doug Kalitta right next to me."

The win paired McClenathan against Melanie Troxel, from Parker, Colo., in the quarter-finals. For Troxel it was over right after she hit the throttle and smoked the tires. McClenathan thought he had problems of his own.

Recalling his second round run, McClenathan said, "The car ran well. It quivered about the same place as the first round. I got ready to peddle it, but didn't need to. So we just ran down the middle. It spun the tire, put a cylinder out early, so we lost some mile per hour. We didn't run quite the E.T. we would have like to, but who knows it might have saved our butt putting that cylinder out. Now we have 'Big Red' -- Kenny Bernstein. I want to win the next round bad."

McClenathan got his wish when he turned back the Budweiser King and slowed down Bernstein's "Forever Red" farewell tour. He now faces the hottest Top Fuel driver on the circuit, Larry Dixon, Jr., from Indianapolis. This is Dixon's fourth final round in as many events. Entering the final round today Dixon has two wins and one runner-up.

For McClenathan it is his first final round since October of 2000, as he sat out all but one race in 2001 due to lack of a ride or sponsorship. Against Dixon in final rounds, McClenathan holds a two zip advantage. Overall, McClenathan also holds a 12 to 11 advantage over Dixon.

Both driver left together, but Dixon started opening a slight lead as McClenathan dropped a cylinder. At the finish line it was Dixon first in 4.639 seconds at 319.29 mph. McClenathan cross immediately thereafter in 4.728 seconds at 313.88 mph.

For his career McClenathan has been to 39 final rounds, winning 26. The runner-up spot today moved McClenathan into fourth in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing point standings. He now has 279 points, 172 points behind point leader Larry Dixon. Kenny Bernstein is second with 304 points, followed by Tony Schumacher in third with 281 points. One spot behind McClenathan in fifth is Doug Kalitta with 214 points.

After the final round, McClenathan reflected on his semifinal and final round, "I'm ecstatic that we got to the final round. The semifinal win against (Kenny) Bernstein was big for me. He's been beating up on us all this year in the semifinals. We finally got to beat the big, bad, red car. That feels good. Bernstein, he's a class act. Although he doesn't like to lose, he was happy for us. He just told me to beat that blue beer car in the finals.

"We just didn't have enough muscle for that blue beer car.  We dropped
a cylinder out there.  It was just one of those deals, they made an
excellent run.  I knew Dick LaHaie (crew chief for Dixon) would try to
run a low 60 (4.60 second) and we were trying to do the same thing.  It
just dropped a cylinder.  It wasn't meant to be.

I'll tell you my guys did a great job. (Rick) Henkelman and (David) Baca, I'd like to thank them for this opportunity. A big thanks to the guys who got us here: Waterloo Tool Storage, MBNA, PurePower Lubricants, Centennial Batteries, Ironclad Gloves and Champion Spark Plugs.

-h&bm-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta , Cory McClenathan , Dick LaHaie , Melanie Troxel , Cory Mac