MCCLENATHAN ADVANCES TO HIS EIGHTH FINAL ROUND OF SEASON IN MAPLE GROVE MOHNTON, Pa. (Oct. 10, 2010) - It looked like Cory McClenathan was heading straight to his fourth victory of the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series in his eighth...
MCCLENATHAN ADVANCES TO HIS EIGHTH FINAL ROUND OF SEASON IN MAPLE GROVE
MOHNTON, Pa. (Oct. 10, 2010) - It looked like Cory McClenathan was heading straight to his fourth victory of the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series in his eighth final round of the year at the 26th annual NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway today, until he hit the brick wall known as Larry Dixon. A very lucky Larry Dixon.
Racing the FRAM Top Fuel dragster for Don Schumacher Racing, McClenathan continued to demonstrate that the combination of a veteran driver, a first-class rail, and two rock-solid crew chiefs (Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler) is hard to beat. After qualifying No. 2 in dramatic style, in Sunday's eliminations McClenathan defeated Dominick Lagana with a round-best 3.815/318.54, and his nemesis Shawn Langdon (who pulled out a .003 reaction time - .000 is perfect) with a 3.836/318.99 in the second round.
Without lane choice in the semifinal for the only time all day, "Cory Mac" dismissed his DSR teammate Antron Brown with another round-quick 3.812/318.47, then met up with his year-long nemesis, points leader Dixon, in the money round. McClenathan had yet to defeat Dixon in any round this year, and when Dixon struck the tires first on takeoff, it appeared that the jinx may have been broken. But, just as quickly as Dixon fell back and then recovered, McClenathan struck his tires. Even expert pedaling action by McClenathan didn’t help him beat Dixon to the finish line, and he came out on the losing end...again. Dixon crossed the finish stripe in 4.906 seconds at 295.34 mph, while Cory Mac trailed to a 5.103/199.70. Margin of victory: .2214 of a second.
"I was just trying to do the right thing when the car does that," explained a disappointed McClenathan, "and I'm not waiting for him to come by. I'm trying to do my job and keep it in the center of the lane. It got close to the center line and I had to let it straighten out and calm down before I could hit it again. And the last time I did it the belt came off and that was it, and I watched him go by. That was the end of it.
"I didn't know where he was. All I knew was, I didn't see him so I needed to keep on trying. And that's what you do as a driver, try to reel it in and try to be as calm as possible. It just didn't want to recover out there.
"It just makes it tough when you get down this close and he's beatable," added McClenathan, who was unable to make any ground on Dixon in the Countdown to the Championship and now trails Dixon by 89 points, in second, with two races remaining in the season.
"He was very beatable there, but he just feathered back into it and just motored on down through there. As I had the gas all the way down, he just blew by me. We had nothing.
"It isn't over," added McClenathan, who is still seeking his first top Fuel championship in 20 years of competition. "I never stop fighting. It's not over."
Next up is the 10th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Oct. 29-31.