Baytown: Cory McClenathan final qualifying recap

Henkelman & Baca Motorsports Rick Henkelman and David Baca -- Owners Top Fuel Dragster Cory Mcclenathan -- Driver NHRA O'Reilly Spring Nationals Houston Raceway Park Qualifying: Cory McClenathan Session ...

Henkelman & Baca Motorsports
Rick Henkelman and David Baca -- Owners
Top Fuel Dragster
Cory Mcclenathan -- Driver

NHRA O'Reilly Spring Nationals
Houston Raceway Park

Qualifying: Cory McClenathan
Session #1 Friday: 8.555 seconds at 82. 51 mph (#10)
Session #2 Friday: 4.615 seconds at 321.50 mph (#3)
Session #1 Saturday: 7.369 seconds at 102.59 mph (#3)
Session #2 Saturday: 4.692 seconds at 310.34 mph (#3)

McClenathan third in qualifying at NHRA O'Reilly Spring Nationals

LAS VEGAS -- For the first four races of the 2002 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, Cory McClenathan, from Anaheim, Calif., and the Henkelman & Baca Motorsports team was the surprise of Top Fuel. No longer.

"This is a fast moving team. It started rather quickly," said David Baca, owner and partner of Henkelman & Baca Motorsports. "The key was coming up with a crew chief like Wes Cerny. He worked his magic, which gave us instant notoriety and success. Not everybody felt we going to be contenders in the beginning, but with all the things we put together we felt we would. Based on our performance we must now be taken as serious player in the Top Fuel field.

"I think this is a team to be reckoned with. I know we are going to be here all year long. We're starting to get good associate help. We have a lot of irons in the fire and believe a major is just around the corner. Our deal with this team is to continue all year with this type of performance.

"We started out slow yesterday (Friday), but stepped it up in the night session. Wes Cerny had a little bit left last night, but wanted to make sure it went from A to B. It didn't hold for No. 1 but we didn't want to hurt it. We wanted to keep the motor fresh for Sunday," concluded Baca, as he reflected on Friday's qualifying.

McClenathan, who sat out all but one event last season, won this event when he last race here in 2000. Entering Saturday's final two qualifying sessions, McClenathan was No. 3 on the Top Fuel qualifying grid after reeling off a 4.615 second pass at 321.50 mph in Friday night's session.

Saturday was hot and humid and McClenathan did not improved. The team did learn a lot about running under the sticky conditions and the 12-year veteran finished qualifying in the 3rd position.

McClenathan summed up the weekend this way, "We ran in different kind of conditions than we have all year. The track has gone from being really, really good to slick and marginal. We're trying to adapt to the conditions but you see guys like Kenny Bernstein and Larry Dixon that are still running in the mid 4.60s (second range). We're trying to go for it also, although we got a little crazy this morning (Saturday). We reeled it back in this afternoon. Now we just need to be consistent on Sunday."

Baca echoed McClenathan's comments on consistency, "If you look back historically for the first four races, I think three out of four we hit the tire the first time. I think Wes Cerny knows this race track. Wes wanted to go out there and hit a number the first time. It didn't hold. But he rebounded and we finished in the 3rd spot. Wes and Cory (McClenathan) have a great history here. They really like this race track. In this game, you have to have every advantage available to you."

-h&bm-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , David Baca , Cory McClenathan