Cory Mac shooting for another win and $100,000 of the Big Bud Money POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 6, 1999) -- Cory McClenathan is again looking forward to the NHRA Auto Club Finals, but for much different reasons this year. In the past two years, the...
Cory Mac shooting for another win and $100,000 of the Big Bud Money
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 6, 1999) -- Cory McClenathan is again looking forward to the NHRA Auto Club Finals, but for much different reasons this year.
In the past two years, the season-ending event has meant the culmination of stellar, six-win campaigns and runner-up finishes in the final standings. The Nov.11-14 race at Pomona Raceway this time around signals the conclusion of what McClenathan calls "a frustrating year for our MBNA Top Fuel team."
"We will all be glad when this season is over," said McClenathan. "But before it ends, we'd like to add one more win to our total."
McClenathan, a two-time 1999 winner (Richmond, Va., and Indianapolis) in the first 21 events, wants a good performance to solidify a top 10 finish. He's ninth with 1115 points, 64 behind eighth-place Larry Dixon. "We still have a chance to catch him, too," McClenathan noted.
He also will have an opportunity to collect $100,000 from Budweiser as one of eight drivers competing in Saturday's Big Bud Shootout. McClenathan finished ninth in the season-long point total but will start in place of Eddie Hill, who was injured Oct. 30 at Houston and won't be able to compete.
"We are sorry Eddie isn't able to race but we are excited to have the chance to be in the Bud Shootout again," McClenathan said. "I've raced in it for the last eight years and I couldn't have imagined being on the sidelines watching. We'd like to win one in front of my hometown fans."
McClenathan is giving his first-round Shootout money to Hill. "We feel since they worked so hard to get that spot in the field that they deserved the prize money," McClenathan said. "I know Eddie and Ercie are doing everything they can to keep their team together for next year and that they are searching for a new sponsor. Plus, I know they've spent a lot of money over the last two races with two big engine explosions. It's a small token of how we feel about them." McClenathan will meet Doug Kalitta in the opening round of the Shootout, which is run during Finals qualifying sessions. Other drivers competing for the big payday are Gary Scelzi, Joe Amato, Larry Dixon, Tony Schumacher, Mike Dunn and Kenny Bernstein.
McClenathan, from Anaheim, Calif., knows the problem plaguing the Joe Gibbs-owned team all season was a lack of racing consistency. "We struggled trying to reach the performance levels we had in 1997 and 1998," he said. "It has been a very trying year and, quite honestly, I will be glad to see it end.
"The highlight of the season was winning the U.S. Nationals (at Indianapolis, NHRA's most prestigious event). If you can't contend for the championship, then it's a very satisfying feeling to win at Indy."
Despite his ups and downs, McClenathan maintained his impressive qualifying streak, which is at 156 races in a row going into the Finals.
McClenathan is also looking ahead to next year when he'll have a new crew chief and crew. Gibbs is dissolving his Funny Car team at the end of the season and will operate a single-car team in 2000, the MBNA dragster.
"There will be some big changes for the millenium," he commented. "Wes Cerny is coming from Joe's Funny Car to be our crew chief, and he's bringing along most of his crew. I'm excited because Wes can put up championship numbers (in elapsed time and speed) and I think we have a shot at winning it all. We plan to start testing early so we'll be ready when the new season begins."