Brainerd: Cory McClenathan Saturday summary

Three qualifying passes find Cory McClenathan fifth. BRAINERD, Minn. -- The recently completed "Western Swing" -- three consecutive weekends of competition in Denver, Seattle and Sonoma, Calif. -- ended with a bang for Cory McClenathan, driver...

Three qualifying passes find Cory McClenathan fifth.

BRAINERD, Minn. -- The recently completed "Western Swing" -- three consecutive weekends of competition in Denver, Seattle and Sonoma, Calif. -- ended with a bang for Cory McClenathan, driver of the Henkelman & Baca Motorsports Centennial Batteries/Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster.

At the final race of the western swing, the FRAM Autolite Nationals, McClenathan, from Anaheim, Calif., suffered a spectacular engine explosion during the quarterfinals of eliminations at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. Since then, the Henkelman & Baca crew worked long, hard hours to ready the car for Brainerd, Minn., this weekend's stop on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Although the Henkelman & Baca team now needed every qualifying session to prepare the car for the 21st annual NHRA Rugged Liner Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway (BIR), the entire Top Fuel category lost one session on the opening day of qualifying. A lengthy rain delay on Friday caused the cancellation of one of two scheduled Top Fuel and Funny Car qualifying sessions.

On the first and only pass on Friday, McClenathan experienced an unknown vibration during the burnout. A decision was made to do the launch, run it to half track and click it, in case that was the only run the team got during the weekend. That would insure that the Henkelman & Baca Dragster would be in the show should the remaining qualifying sessions be canceled.

But under dismal conditions -- cool temperatures made cooler by the 30-plus mph winds and rain laden clouds -- qualifying resumed on Saturday. McClenathan's first pass yielded very little improvement over Friday's pass. After a hard launch and excellent 60-foot time, the Centennial Batteries/Mac Tools Dragster went up in tire smoke. After two of three qualifying sessions, the Henkelman & Baca Motorsports Team stood 15th.

Weather conditions improved and McClenathan finally got untracked on the third and final qualifying pass, running an elapsed time of 4.690. good for fifth on the qualifying ladder. He will face Bruce Litton, from Indianapolis, when eliminations begin tomorrow. Litton qualified 12th with a run of 4.841 seconds at 301.54 mph.

Doug Kalitta, from Ann Arbor, Mich., driver of the Mac Tools Dragster, qualified #1 in Top Fuel with a pass of 4.597 seconds at 322.19 mph.

Reflecting on qualifying, McClenathan said, "We finally got from point A to point B with some authority. We needed to establish that base for tomorrow's eliminations. We will continue to run our own race tomorrow, just as we have the last few races. I have every confidence in (crew chief) Wes Cerny and expect this Centennial Batteries/Mac Tool Dragster to do well tomorrow."

-h&bm-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Litton , Doug Kalitta , Cory McClenathan