Phoenix - Team Pennzoil Round 1 Report

Round 1 Belongs to The Outlaw PHOENIX (Feb. 28) -- Outlaw Fuel Additives driver Bruce Allen emerged as the sole survivor from Team Pennzoil after the opening round of professional elimination racing at the 15th Annual Checker Schucks ...

Round 1 Belongs to The Outlaw

PHOENIX (Feb. 28) -- Outlaw Fuel Additives driver Bruce Allen emerged as the sole survivor from Team Pennzoil after the opening round of professional elimination racing at the 15th Annual Checker Schucks Kragen Nationals. Allen used a hole-shot (starting line reaction time) advantage to beat teammate Mike Thomas in the opening stanza while Top Fuel legend Eddie Hill lost by a whisker to Cory McClenathan.

Here's a recap of Team Pennzoil's first round of elimination racing Sunday morning at Firebird International Raceway.

Bruce Allen, the pilot of The Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, proved to be the best Pennzoil-sponsored driver in the first round. Allen used a fractional reaction-time advantage (0.487 seconds to 0.502 seconds) to take a narrow win over teammate Mike Thomas, who drives the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac. The difference at the timing lights was just one thousandths of a second with Allen recording a 7.031-second pass at 195.03 mph to Thomas' 7.030-second lap at 195.79 mph.

"That was pretty a close race," Allen said. "It's great to get a win for our team. We really needed the moral boost. It's really too bad that it happened against Mike. We made a good run and we'll need to do it again in this next round to get by Jeg (Coughlin, who ran a 6.970 at 198.64 mph in the first round.) We don't have lane choice but about half the guy that won that round didn't have lane choice either. Just like I said before this race, we'll need to be perfect to win."

While crediting Allen for his win, Thomas explained his team's bad luck. "My hats off to Bruce," Thomas said. "He did everything he needed to do to win and that's the mark of a great driver. We were way down on power. Just before the run we discovered a slight crack in the head and we just didn't have time to switch motors.

"We can't catch a break this year so far. It's frustrating to have a car that you know is really fast and then to not be able to show it off at the track. We will get all these motors freshened before Gainesville (Fla.) and we'll just have to fight through this dry spell."

Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, lost a thrilling side-by-side battle against Cory McClenathan at the start of the opening round. The final numbers saw McClenathan covering the strip in 4.583 seconds at 318.92 mph to Hill's 4.626-second, 305.70 mph lap.

McClenathan got the jump at the starting line with a better reaction time (0.477 seconds to Hill's 0.509-second start.) But Hill quickly made up the deficit and was solidly ahead at half-track (3.053 seconds to McClenathan's 3.092-second mark.) Then a slight loss of traction by Hill's machine allowed McClenathan to power by on the back portion of the track and take the win.

"What a horse race that turned out to be," Hill said. "You usually don't see that much passing in a drag race. The track was awesome and it just looks as though we were asking the car for a little too much. Cory had put such a great lap down yesterday that we felt like we needed to go for it that run and we ended up puffing the tires slightly. I did not expect that to happen.

"The Pennzoil car continues to be very, very strong and it's obviously quick and consistent. It just wasn't our turn. I'm already daydreaming about that extra-fast track in Gainesville (Fla.) I know we are really close to where we need to be. It's just a matter of having all the pieces fall into place at the right time."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen