Reading Pennzoil Round One Report

Hill puts Pennzoil in Round 1 spotlight READING, Pa. -- Legendary Top Fuel pilot Eddie "The Thrill" Hill helped paint Friday's first round of professional qualifying for the 14th annual Pioneer Keystone Nationals Pennzoil yellow by posting the...

Hill puts Pennzoil in Round 1 spotlight

READING, Pa. -- Legendary Top Fuel pilot Eddie "The Thrill" Hill helped paint Friday's first round of professional qualifying for the 14th annual Pioneer Keystone Nationals Pennzoil yellow by posting the second quickest time of the day thus far. Hill's scorching 4.639 second run down Maple Grove Raceway's strip coupled with former Keystone Pro Stock champ Bruce Allen's impressive reaction time and Pro Stock upstart Mike Thomas' super-competitive lap put the Pennzoil brand in the center of the Round 1 spotlight.

Here's a quick recap of opening round action in the Pennzoil paddock.

Eddie Hill, the Top Fuel pilot of the Pennzoil Dragster, brought the crowd to its feet when he blazed down the strip in 4.639 seconds at 298.50 mph to initially pace the sports fastest machines. Hill finished the session in the No. 2 position just behind Gary Scelzi, who posted a 4.626-second run at 305.18 mph.

"It's an unbelievable feeling to be one of the quickest cars out there," Hill said. "There are so many great drivers competing at these events. To be one of the quickest is a special feeling. I don't know how long it will last but I would think that we're comfortably in the show after that lap. That means we can all sleep good tonight.

"That was a nice run. From the launch all the way through the quarter-track mark, the car was almost flawless. It felt as though the front end stayed up for a long time. We started hazing the tires a little after that and probably lost a few thousandths of a second there, but we're thrilled with how everything turned out."

Bruce Allen, the Pro Stock driver of the Outlaw Fuel Additives Pontiac Firebird, recorded the best launch of the opening round when he left the starting line in 0.411 seconds. However, Allen couldn't convert the blazing reaction-time advantage to a great elapsed time due to a loss of traction at the long end of the strip. Allen officially ran a 7.106-second lap at 193.34 mph, which left him in 22cd place.

"She pulled a little to the left and the tires really started spinning down-track," Allen said. "It was really letting go all the way through third, fourth and fifth gear. That's okay though. It's a fixable problem. We can move some weight around and we should be fine. I'm already excited about tonight. The starting line here is great and the track seems to be in pretty good shape overall. We just have to keep it straight and stay in the groove."

Mike Thomas, the Pro Stock driver of the Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird, stayed with the lead group of cars in his class by posting a competitive 7.028-second lap at 196.16 mph in Round 1. The time put Thomas in the No. 10 position, just six hundredths of a second off pole-sitter Jeg Coughlin's time of 6.961 seconds at 197.63.

"That was a decent way to start," Thomas said. "This was basically a tune-up run for tonight and I feel like we got what we needed out of that pass. I probably could have gone faster but we started bouncing all over the place at the other end. There are a couple of huge bumps down there. Tonight will be awesome. I'll bet the (qualifying) bump will be around 6.95 seconds. They'll be some cars flying down the track tonight."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Gary Scelzi , Bruce Allen