Pomona: Cory McClenathan preview

"UNDERDOG" McCLENATHAN READY TO GET SEASON STARTED IN POMONA BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Feb. 3, 2009) - Cory McClenathan is ready to take the FRAM Top Fuel dragster to a higher season points finish in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series ...

"UNDERDOG" McCLENATHAN READY TO GET SEASON STARTED IN POMONA

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Feb. 3, 2009) - Cory McClenathan is ready to take the FRAM Top Fuel dragster to a higher season points finish in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series following his solid third-place result in 2008. And the battle for supremacy begins this weekend at the NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Calif.

McClenathan will begin the season with an all-new crew, including crew chiefs Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler, and a strong push to shed the "underdog" image he seems to have acquired before the season has even begun. The big news stories so far this year have been about his teammate Tony Schumacher's former crew chief Alan Johnson leaving to start his own team with Larry Dixon driving, McClenathan's crew chief Mike Green moving over to Schumacher's team, and rookie Spencer Massey taking over Dixon's seat. But don't count out McClenathan. The man who scored one victory in three final rounds, was low qualifier twice in 2008 and came close to earning the No. 2 spot behind his teammate Schumacher is geared up for a charge following recent test sessions in West Palm Beach and Phoenix.

"Testing for us was kind of an up-and-down process," said McClenathan, who is recovering from a recent bout of pneumonia. "We had a very good day staying later in the week in Phoenix and made some very big strides in our performance and getting down the track. We weren't really trying to make full passes. We found a few things wrong with the car and corrected those and the car seemed to be very consistent at that point.

"We would have liked to have made some full passes, but we decided not to. The conditions weren't perfect for us, so we're going to go ahead and wait for Pomona.

"I'm eager to get this season started," added McClenathan, who turned 46 on Jan. 30 while recuperating from his illness. "I think the whole FRAM team has come together. They have worked very hard. Mike Green and the guys over on the Army team have certainly been there when we needed them. They'll work very well together with Todd Okuhara, Phil Shuler, myself and the FRAM crew. So, I'm very excited to see the outcome.

"After reading the reports so far this season, all the news seems to be about the Army car, rookie Spencer Massey and Larry Dixon. I'm eager to see how things turn out. It just gives me more motivation to go out there and beat them all. Since it appears we're being considered the underdog, I guess we have something to prove. We'll let the FRAM dragster do the talking for us."

CORY MCCLENATHAN QUICK FACTS:

* No. 3 in 2008 Top Fuel point standings

* One win in three final rounds, as well as eight semifinal, six quarterfinal, seven first-round finishes and two No. 1 qualifiers

* Won the '08 NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas2 for his 30th career Top Fuel victory in 53 final rounds

* Qualified No. 8 and was runner-up in 2008 season-opening race in Pomona

* First driver to break the 320-mph barrier with 322.17-mph run in Dallas in 1997

* Has recorded 430 career round wins in Top Fuel

* Qualified No. 1 32 times, with a career-high seven times in 1993

* Recorded 400th round win in Top Fuel in Richmond 2007

* Has finished No. 2 in the standings four times (1992, 1995, 1997 & 1998)

* Finished No. 10 in rookie season in 1991. Made first 4-second run

* Made NHRA history with first run in the 4.70s (4.799) at Reading in 1992

* Swept the three-race Western Swing in 1997 en route to four consecutive wins and career-high six victories in eight final rounds

* Won four of the first six races in 1998. Equaled career-best with six wins in eight finals

* Won the U.S. Nationals twice (1996, 1999)

* Missed four races in 1993 after crash in Rockingham and still finished sixth in the Top Fuel points

* Age 46 (January 30, 1963); born in Wichita, Kansas, now lives in Brownsburg, Ind.; has 17-year-old daughter Courtney

* Joined Don Schumacher Racing in 2008; third season with sponsorship from FRAM

-credit: dsr

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Tony Schumacher , Cory McClenathan , Don Schumacher , Spencer Massey