Brainerd: Cory McClenathan finals summary

Cory McClenathan loses classic drag race to Bernstein BRAINERD, Minn. -- This is the day at each NHRA race that drivers point toward -- eliminations. This is the day that defines success or failure, at least for this event. For Cory ...

Cory McClenathan loses classic drag race to Bernstein

BRAINERD, Minn. -- This is the day at each NHRA race that drivers point toward -- eliminations. This is the day that defines success or failure, at least for this event.

For Cory McClenathan, driver of the Henkelman and Baca Centennial Batteries/Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster, today's eliminations at the NHRA Rugged Liner Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway (BIR) marks his quest for win 27 in 41 final rounds. Only four drivers stand in his way. Falter at any point in any of the four eliminations rounds and his day is over.

Round one McClenathan was matched against Bruce Litton, a driver he has never met in competition prior to today. McClenathan was out first but Litton was never a factor, who smoked the big Goodyears just off the starting line. The win light went to Cory Mac. With the victory, McClenathan now has a one-zip lead over Litton.

Asked at the top end by the NHRA announcer after the victory, regarding the future of his ride with Henkelman and Baca, McClenathan had the following comment, "What people don't understand is that we've talked the whole time about David (Baca) driving the car next year. After all, it is his and Rick Henkelman's car. If we can get two cars out there, then I'm going to drive one. I like where I am. The biggest thing is that I need a job next year one way or another. People have got to understand that, too. So, I'm going to help David and those guys to do the best they can this year and worry about next year when it comes."

Next up, in the second round, was Kenny Bernstein. Bernstein lost a blower belt in the opening round, but still took the win when his opponent red-lighted (fouled). Currently, Bernstein is second in the NHRA POWERade point standings, McClenathan is third.

In a classic drag race, McClenathan got the jump at the green light and the pair ran side by side down the BIR quarter-mile with Bernstein taking the win by .0191 seconds. That's nine when you convert seconds to feet -- Bernstein wins by nine feet.

"I hate to lose to anybody but the race against (Kenny) Bernstein was just an old fashion drag race," said McClenathan. "We just came up short. Now it's off to Indy to do some testing and get ready for the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. We'll have a new paint scheme for Indy and maybe that will bring us some much needed luck."

The Henkelman & Baca Motorsports Team now moves to Indianapolis, first to test. During testing, McClenathan will be preparing for the most prestigious event of the 2002 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series the 48th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, an event he has won twice (1996 and 1999).

In addition, David Baca, partner and team owner of the Henkelman & Baca Top Fuel Dragster, will be going through the licensing process for his Top Fuel license. Current plans call for Baca to take the seat of the Henkelman & Baca Motorsports dragster next year. If proper financing is in place, the team will also field a car with McClenathan back behind the wheel of a second Henkelman & Baca dragster.

"We (Henkelman & Baca Motorsports) have had the same goal since we started this team, to field a two car team. I took one year off (from driving) to facilitate this team's effort to promote both Cory (McClenathan) and myself to corporate America. We still have a bunch of irons in the fire. We're still gung-ho to get our deals done. Cory is very much a part of this team and will continue to be a part of this team. My wish is to keep this team intact for next season and just add personnel for the second team. In the meantime, I plan to go to Indy to work on my Top Fuel license. What can I say but that it's silly season," said David Baca.

The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals will unfold August 28- September 2 at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Clermont, Ind., just west of downtown Indianapolis. Professional qualifying is Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Final eliminations take place Monday, Labor Day.

-h&bm-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Litton , Kenny Bernstein , David Baca , Cory McClenathan , Cory Mac