Las Vegas: Cory McClenathan final report

McCLENATHAN BUMPED OUT BY TEAMMATE IN VEGAS QUARTERFINAL LAS VEGAS (April 5, 2009) - In a match-up similar to last Sunday's Top Fuel final round in Houston, Don Schumacher Racing teammates Cory McClenathan and Tony Schumacher faced off in the ...

McCLENATHAN BUMPED OUT BY TEAMMATE IN VEGAS QUARTERFINAL

LAS VEGAS (April 5, 2009) - In a match-up similar to last Sunday's Top Fuel final round in Houston, Don Schumacher Racing teammates Cory McClenathan and Tony Schumacher faced off in the quarterfinal stanza today at the NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. And, as was the case in Houston, McClenathan was bumped out by Schumacher, who went on to win the 127th national event for Don Schumacher Racing since 1998.

McClenathan drove the FRAM Tough Guard Top Fuel dragster into the second round after he defeated Troy Buff with a solid 3.915-second pass at 311.20 mph in the opening match-up.

As the pair lined up for the quarterfinal run, without lane choice, McClenathan rolled up to race in the left lane until a change of mind by Schumacher's crew chief Mike Green resulted in a last-minute swap of lanes. After the two launched with nearly identical reaction times, McClenathan struck the tires late in the run and slowed to a 4.415-second pass at 201.19 mph as Schumacher claimed the win with a 3.937/309.70.

"In the back of the staging lanes we were told we were going to have the right hand lane," explained McClenathan. "Then we were swapped over to the left and I thought this might play in our favor. And, obviously, at the last second Mike said, 'OK, we want the left-hand lane back,' after what they saw in front of them (Brandon Bernstein beating Larry Dixon out of the left lane).

"Lane choice is the crew chiefs' prerogative. We kind of had it tuned up for the right lane to begin with, so I wasn't too concerned about the lane changes. You can't let that mess with your head. You just go up there and do your job as a driver.

"It got to that point where it seemed that everybody was struggling in that right-hand lane and we had the same problem: early wheel speed and it just kind of came unglued out there. I tried to pedal it once and twice, and saw Tony way out in front. I thought, Just save the car, save the motor and go on to the next event.

"Once again, I think (crew chiefs) Todd (Okuhara) and Phil (Shuler) have a really good handle on this FRAM Tough Guard car. The track will just throw some curves at you. And I think they're seeing that. And they're on a learning curve at the same time.

"They'll make this FRAM Tough Guard car go down the track. It will go from A to B all the time and it can run with everybody else. And everybody realizes that. If your teammate is going to beat you, you want it to happen later in the round. That’s what we want. Right now it's all about points."

Next up is the NHRA Southern Nationals in Commerce, Ga., April 17-19.

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Tony Schumacher , Cory McClenathan , Brandon Bernstein , Don Schumacher , Troy Buff