Pennzoil posse poised for Sunday run PHOENIX (Feb. 27) -- The field of drivers who will battle for the title of the 15th Annual Checker Schucks Kragen Nationals was officially set Saturday afternoon at Firebird International Raceway with the ...
Pennzoil posse poised for Sunday run
PHOENIX (Feb. 27) -- The field of drivers who will battle for the title of the 15th Annual Checker Schucks Kragen Nationals was officially set Saturday afternoon at Firebird International Raceway with the completion of the fourth and final qualifying session.
Team Pennzoil will enter Sunday's chase for the championship with its full complement of professional pilots. Eddie Hill will be battling in his 42nd straight Top Fuel elimination session. Meanwhile, in a classic good-news-bad-news scenario, teammates Mike Thomas and Bruce Allen will square off against each other in Round 1 of the Pro Stock bracket. While it's good news that both drivers qualified for the elimination rounds, the fact that one Pennzoil-sponsored pro will be eliminated in the opening session remains.
Here's the latest news from Pennzoil's pit row.
Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, posted a competitive 4.639-second lap at 304.53 mph on Friday morning and then spent the rest of the weekend fine-tuning his machine. Hill finished in the ninth spot and will open Sunday's action against Cory McClenathan, who carded a 4.635-second lap at 313.15 mph to grab the No. 8 position.
"We have explored the limits of the car and this track and are pretty confident we know what's going on out there," Hill said. "It's a shame that we slipped below the top half of the field because you always like to have lane choice, but both lanes here have been pretty good to us. This car really likes to go fast and the track has improved considerably over the course of this weekend. The conditions should be ideal tomorrow and we will be ready to go. That first round will be a beauty. The temperatures will be perfect for some really quick racing. I'm excited."
Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, fought his way to title-contender status with a 6.956-second lap at 197.97 mph Saturday morning. The pass was the third best of the weekend and will award Thomas lane choice over Allen in Round 1.
"The draw for tomorrow is really tough and it all starts with Bruce," Thomas said. "The best 16 drivers make the show and every one of them is good. I'll have to do everything right to win. Bruce is a great driver so I know I'll have to be perfect to beat him. We do have lane choice and that should be a big advantage. The right lane has definitely been better for us. The car has been strong and we are very excited to have qualified so well. I can't wait for tomorrow."
Bruce Allen, the driver of The Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, earned a spot in the field with a workman-like 7.003-second pass at 195.51 mph during Round 3. He finished the qualifying rounds in the 14th position and will face his Pennzoil stablemate Thomas in Round 1 of eliminations.
"It's a bummer how often Mike and I end up racing each other," Allen said. "But it's just one of those things that's bound to happen. I think he has the better car right now so I need to try and cut a great light and get all of the elapsed time we can out of this thing. I can't be over-aggressive and give him the race, but I do need to be on my game and make him beat me. We've had four solid runs here which should help us make a accurate assessment of the track and we'll just go from there."