Richmond: Cory McClenathan final report

MCCLENATHAN CHIPS AWAY AT POINTS WITH SEMIFINAL FINISH IN VIRGINIA DINWIDDIE, Va. (Oct. 11, 2009) - Cory McClenathan chipped away at the Top Fuel points today when he landed in his fourth semifinal of the season at the NHRA Virginia Nationals at...

MCCLENATHAN CHIPS AWAY AT POINTS WITH SEMIFINAL FINISH IN VIRGINIA

DINWIDDIE, Va. (Oct. 11, 2009) - Cory McClenathan chipped away at the Top Fuel points today when he landed in his fourth semifinal of the season at the NHRA Virginia Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park, just south of Richmond, Va.

With leaders Tony Schumacher and Larry Dixon exiting in the second round, McClenathan gained valuable points in the Countdown to 1 playoffs towards his first Top Fuel championship, as two national events remain before a champion is named. McClenathan hung on to third place, and is just 68 markers behind his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Schumacher on top.

McClenathan first disposed of Todd Simpson in the opening stanza with a 3.801/319.60, then dismissed Bobby Lagana Jr. in the quarterfinal with another strong 3.834/316.38.

His semifinal match-up against eventual event winner Brandon Bernstein saw his demise, as the FRAM Tough Guard Top Fuel dragster caught fire as it crossed the finish line .1643 of a second behind Bernstein. "Cory Mac" posted a losing 3.902/290.82 to Bernstein's winning 3.851/313.66.

"The guys did a great job all weekend," said McClenathan, who recorded career-best passes of 3.784 seconds and 319.37 mph this weekend. "We qualified well, were given a huge opportunity to capitalize on the leaders going out early, but we just couldn't go any further.

"The car may have gotten out of the groove in that pass and that may have hurt the engine and caused the fire. But, I don't know that, for sure. We'll have to go back and look at the computer and see what it shows.

"We hurt some parts this weekend, but any time you're trying to run in the 3.70s you have the opportunity to do that.

"We went to the semis again, that's a good thing, but it would have been a perfect race to win. That would have been a good deal. But we just didn't get it done," added McClenathan, who has won this event four times.

"Our chances of winning the championship are stronger than ever, now that we were able to gain some ground on Dixon and Schumacher. Man, this could really come down to Pomona (Calif.) to the final race and all three of us, at least, still having a shot at the championship.

"Once again, the Countdown has gone in favor of the fans and they're going to get a heck of a show come Pomona."

Next up is the ninth annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals Oct. 30-Nov. 1.

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Tony Schumacher , Bobby Lagana Jr. , Cory McClenathan , Brandon Bernstein , Cory Mac , Don Schumacher , Todd Simpson