CORY MCCLENATHAN: "IT'S NOT OVER BY A LONG SHOT" BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Oct. 26, 2010) - The battle for the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Top Fuel championship continues this weekend at the 10th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals at The...
CORY MCCLENATHAN: "IT'S NOT OVER BY A LONG SHOT"
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Oct. 26, 2010) - The battle for the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Top Fuel championship continues this weekend at the 10th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. With only two races left in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, second-place Cory McClenathan is aiming to win his first crown in 20 years of competition.
The only obstacle that stands in the way of the driver of the FRAM Top Fuel dragster is points leader Larry Dixon, a two-time NHRA world champion who holds an 89-point margin over McClenathan. That's five rounds of racing with eight rounds left in the season. It makes every point available, including qualifying bonus points and national-record points, more valuable than ever.
"We're not going to change anything," said "Cory Mac," who won the Vegas spring event in 2008. "I think (crew chiefs) Phil (Shuler) and Todd (Okuhara) may be a little more aggressive when it comes to Friday-night (qualifying) tune-ups, and we need some of those small qualifying bonus points (three, two, one points for the top three in each qualifying round). Those small points can add up to where you can earn a round advantage. We can't afford to lose any of those going into Pomona.
"We're going to try to scrape up as many of those points as we can. And, if the racing gods are with us and we get a little bit of luck on Sunday and go to the final and Larry doesn't, that will make the difference going into Pomona.
"Obviously, we go into every weekend wanting to win every single race, but we need somebody to help us a little bit with Larry; that's all there is to it," added McClenathan, who has yet to beat Dixon in any round this year. "If Dixon and his team keep being as consistent as they are, it's going to make it awfully tough for us to get this job done. I know the FRAM team is up for the challenge and I certainly feel that I am.
"The odds should be working in my favor now, I think. We always do well in Vegas and Pomona, but so does Larry. We're going to battle it out. It's not over by a long shot. And we have my DSR teammate Tony Schumacher behind us. We know how strong he and the Army team can run at any given time, so we will be looking over our shoulder." Schumacher is in third, 65 points back of McClenathan.
As for being able to set a national record to earn an additional 20 bonus points, "There's a chance at Pomona," said McClenathan, who set the quickest elapsed time in NHRA history of 3.752 seconds in Englishtown this year. "I hope it doesn't come down to the very last round that you have to make that happen, like Tony (Schumacher) did. (In 2006, at Pomona, Schumacher set the national record while winning the event to take the championship.) Because that's just simply a once-in-a-lifetime deal. But, hey, if it's there and we have the opportunity, we're going to go for it."