McCLENATHAN IS RUNNER-UP AT WINTERNATIONALS POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 10, 2008) -- FRAM Top Fuel dragster pilot Cory McClenathan made an impressive debut in his first race under the Don Schumacher Racing banner at the NHRA Winternationals at Pomona...
McCLENATHAN IS RUNNER-UP AT WINTERNATIONALS
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 10, 2008) -- FRAM Top Fuel dragster pilot Cory McClenathan made an impressive debut in his first race under the Don Schumacher Racing banner at the NHRA Winternationals at Pomona Raceway. McClenathan rode a string of 4.50-second elapsed times in eliminations to a runner-up finish against new teammate and defending Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher in an all-Don Schumacher Racing final.
"This race showed the amount of work that (crew chief) Mike Green and the FRAM crew have put into this car," said McClenathan, who grew up in nearby Anaheim, Calif. "Everyone at Don Schumacher Racing, from the girls in the office to the people who do the apparel all the way down to the people back at the shop who don't even come to the races, are the ones who actually need to be thanked for this. It's my privilege to drive the car and it's something else to work with people and an organization like DSR. I can't thank Don Schumacher and his family and everyone involved with the team enough."
McClenathan marched into the final round with victories over Brandon Bernstein, Antron Brown and Morgan Lucas, recording passes of 4.518/329.34, 4.530/329.34, and 4.555/329.34. He remained consistent during the final round with a solid 4.536-second pass at 329.26 mph, but it wasn't enough to hold off Schumacher's 4.499/331.28.
"The best way to win a championship is to get a leg up on it and I think we did that this weekend," said McClenathan. "No matter how you look at it, we still leave this race in second place in points and walk into Phoenix behind our teammate Tony Schumacher. We used to count points in the middle of the season, now we count them from day one. We may have been the No. 8 qualifier but the FRAM dragster showed what it's made of today and that includes the guys who work on it."
McClenathan made his 51st career final-round appearance and his second at the Winternationals. It was the fourth time in his 17-year career that he's met Schumacher in the finals. He beat the five-time Top Fuel champion at the U.S. Nationals in 1996 and in Denver in 1997 and was runner-up to him in Houston in 2005. His final-round appearance on Sunday filled him with plenty of optimism for the new season. His round-win record against Schumacher now stands at 11-20, and 1-3 in final rounds.
"This weekend was a 10 all the way around," McClenathan said firmly. "We didn't win, but our teammate won. We ran heads-up all the way, side-by-side in the final and we beat some great competitors along the way, so we had no gimmes. Nobody gave us anything and we won square and fair and Tony won the final square and fair.
"This is an A-plus weekend for me and I'm very happy. The guys came prepared and they did their job. Everything might be brand new but there are some very good people behind the scenes here.
"A lot of people didn't talk about us before the season started because we didn't run big numbers during testing in Phoenix," McClenathan added. "But we didn't make full passes when we were in Phoenix. We did what we were supposed to do, which was make sure the car was right, that the fuel system was right, be smart about it and don't go out there and beat up parts. We came into Pomona without hurting anything and actually made our first full pass on Friday. I'm very thankful to have Mike Green back on my side and behind me. He's got my back and I have his."
McClenathan's final-round appearance in Pomona has him excited about the possibilities that lay ahead for the 2008 season. "Last year was the first season I finished out of the top 10 in 17 seasons and I don't think we're going to do that again. I'm hoping that this is a top-five team this year, but we'll let our car speak for itself. We're just going to take one step at a time. We're excited about the future here at DSR."