Sonoma: Cory McClenathan finals summary

Spectacular engine explosion ends McClenathan's day. SONOMA, Calif. -- A driver wants to win each and every race. That's his or her competitive nature. But there are some events that are special and a driver wants to win more than another. ...

Spectacular engine explosion ends McClenathan's day.

SONOMA, Calif. -- A driver wants to win each and every race. That's his or her competitive nature. But there are some events that are special and a driver wants to win more than another. Such is the case for Cory McClenathan, driver of the Henkelman and Baca Centennial Batteries Top Fuel Dragster.

McClenathan's owners Rick Henkelman and David Baca are from the San Francisco Bay Area, site of this weekend's NHRA FRAM-Autolite Nationals being run at the newly renamed Infineon Raceway in the wine country of Sonoma, Calif. Therefore, McClenathan, from Anaheim, Calif., would like to post a win for both Southern California, as well as Northern California.

Henkelman, a former Division 6 Top Alcohol Funny Car champion was born in Hemet, Calif., but now calls San Jose, Calif., home. Baca, a second generation driver, from Brentwood, Calif., holds the national speed record in Top Alcohol Dragster. Neither Henkelman nor Baca are driving this season to allow them more time to tend to their duties as team owners.

A number of local sponsors have jumped on board to help the hometown team this weekend: Bay Area Drilling, Delta Park Athletic Club, Ellison Framing, Hammond Enterprises (C.N.C. Machining Specialist), Riebes Auto Parts, Simayof Jewelers (with locations in Las Vegas, San Francisco and Walnut Creek) and Skill Clean (Restoration Contractors).

McClenathan began his quest for the FRAM-Autolite Nationals Top Fuel title by defeating David Grubnic, from Ennis, Mont., in the opening round of eliminations. In the quarterfinals, a spectacular engine explosion ended McClenathan's day.

"We knew we needed to run a little bit better against (Doug) Kalitta than we did in the opening round," said McClenathan. "He got out on me a little bit but I was reeling him in real quick. Somewhere around 1000-foot I felt comfortable and thought I would catch and pass him just about the lights. Then everything broke loose. It looks like it kicked a rod out and at the same time, when that happens, everything else stops moving. It blew the manifold out the back, stuck an intake valve and, in general, made one heck of a mess.

"You hate to see something like this happen. It definitely gets your attention, especially when it happens on the top end with big speed. We got a couple weeks. We'll get reorganized here, get everything fixed and have another go at Brainerd.

"I want to thanks all the our local area friends in the Bay Area who supported us this weekend. I wish we could of put this Henkelman & Baca Centennial Batteries Dragster in the winner's circle to show how much we appreciated your support."

The "Western Swing" is over. Cory McClenathan and Henkelman & Baca Motorsports now take next weekend off before returning to action at the NHRA Rugged Liner Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway in Brainerd, Minn. The event will be contested August 15-18.

-h&gm-

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Series NHRA
Drivers David Baca , David Grubnic , Cory McClenathan