COMMERCE, Ga. (May 14) - The 19th Annual Advance Auto Parts Nationals got off to a great start for Team Pennzoil Friday afternoon as all three Pennzoil-sponsored drivers managed to use their Round 1 laps to earn spots in their respective...
COMMERCE, Ga. (May 14) - The 19th Annual Advance Auto Parts Nationals got off to a great start for Team Pennzoil Friday afternoon as all three Pennzoil-sponsored drivers managed to use their Round 1 laps to earn spots in their respective qualifying ladders. An appreciative crowd took in the action at Atlanta Dragway under hot and humid conditions.
The following recap encapsulates each Pennzoil driver's opening round pass.
Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, posted an impressive first round lap of 7.010 seconds at 197.74 mph. The time placed the Knoxville, Tenn. native into the No. 4 spot on the qualifying ladder with three rounds of qualifying remaining.
"All things considered, this is a perfect way for us to begin this weekend," Thomas said. "The run was just okay by our standards and we can definitely go faster, but to be this high up after Round 1 is great for us. We spun like crazy and I was fighting the car all the way down but I can't complain because I don't think we've even been in the field after any Round 1 this year. Now we can take our time and make the necessary adjustments from the data we gained without having to panic about anything. This is a real good start."
Bruce Allen, the driver of The Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, managed a 7.045-second lap at 197.28 mph to grab the 13th position in the field. Allen, a 14-year veteran from Arlington, Texas finished in the runner-up position at last year's event.
"It's good to make a so-so run and still be in the field," Allen said. "We've returned to our No. 1 race engine and the main thing we wanted to do that round was to get some info. The fact that the car ran as well as it did, especially from mid-track to the finish line, which is where we have been struggling the most in the past few races, is a real bonus for us. I believe we can run a lot quicker and we'll need to in order to stay in the field."
Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, battled an oily track during his opening pass and carded a sub-standard 5.591-second lap at 164.55 mph. Just before Hill ran his lap, a severe oil-down occurred in his lane and the track appeared to still have some residue on it when Hill attempted his pass. Despite the relatively slow time, Hill finished the session in 13th place in the Top Fuel qualifying field.
"We were off to a super run when the tires puffed for a second," Hill said. "We had already been through the tough section of the track and I was surprised she let go momentarily. I didn't see anything on the track but, of course, I went by in a hurry. We'll have to analyze the run on the computer and see if we did something wrong or if it was the track."