MCCLENATHAN IS LOW QUALIFIER ON FRIDAY IN BRAINERD, CLINCHES SPOT IN COUNTDOWN BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 14, 2009) - Cory McClenathan drove the FRAM Tough Guard Top Fuel dragster to the No. 1 position during Friday's qualifying sessions for the 28th...
MCCLENATHAN IS LOW QUALIFIER ON FRIDAY IN BRAINERD, CLINCHES SPOT IN COUNTDOWN
BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 14, 2009) - Cory McClenathan drove the FRAM Tough Guard Top Fuel dragster to the No. 1 position during Friday's qualifying sessions for the 28th annual NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. By making the first pass today, he clinched a spot in the Countdown to 1 playoffs which begin following the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day weekend for the final six events.
McClenathan was low qualifier in both rounds today, posting first a 4.004-second elapsed time at 298.01 mph in the heat of the day, then a 3.910/305.36 as temperatures cooled for the evening pass.
If he holds on to the pole through the final two qualifying sessions on Saturday, he will claim his second this season, and the 34th of his career.
Tony Schumacher, McClenathan's Don Schumacher Racing teammate, came in second in a dramatic side-by-side pass by the pair, posting a 3.926/305.36.
"I'm not afraid when they walk up and say 'We're going to be a little aggressive; we're going to go for it,'" he said of his crew chiefs Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler. "I get excited when they say that. [Qualifying No. 1 and 2] just shows how good the [two DSR Top Fuel] cars are, how closely they're built together and it just shows what DSR is made of.
"Every single thing on that [FRAM] car is identical to Tony's. The only thing is Tony is driving his and I'm driving mine. That's the only difference. And Tony and I communicate as much as the crew chiefs do, so it pays dividends for us.
"I think the communication between the two teams has been better now than it ever has been. We have crew chiefs that are in the shop every single day working together and, believe me, I see it. I go in the shop three or four days a week. They work very hard.
"Every time you come out here as a driver you want to do the best you can for them, make sure it goes A to B and does it the right way.
"As far as the cars, if you took the bodies off them you couldn’t see the difference and if you look at the tune-ups they're very similar.
"[Clinching a spot in the Countdown] is completely not important to me. It should be important and I want to be in that position...but my biggest thing is I want to win our guys a race before we get to Indy, before all that starts.
"When Morgan Lucas ran the 3.94 (just in front of McClenathan and Schumacher to take No. 1), I thought, Well, he'll probably be low. Then we ran what we did and that surprised me a little bit. I thought we'd run some kind of low .90, but to run .91 here right now, I think that's pretty good."