Brainerd Pennzoil Early Sunday Report

Outlaw survives first fight, braces for more BRAINERD, Minn. & ...

Outlaw survives first fight, braces for more

BRAINERD, Minn. – After a superb weekend of qualifying, only one driver from Team Pennzoil was able to muscle his car through the first round of elimination racing Sunday at the VisionAire NorthStar Nationals. Pro Stock driver Bruce Allen, a three-time champion at Brainerd International Raceway, moved into the quarterfinals after an opening round hole-shot win over Ron Krisher while Hall of Fame Top Fuel legend Eddie Hill and Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas both suffered disappointing Round 1 losses.

Here’s a quick recap of Sunday’s opening session.

Bruce Allen, the driver of the Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac, used a slight advantage at the starting line (0.436 seconds to 0.449 seconds) to get an early jump on Ron Krisher and went on to post a 7.115-second winning pass at 193.05 mph to Krisher’s 7.129-second run at 192.80 mph.

“The track was in better shape than we anticipated,” Allen said. “We had the clutch set a little soft. But we still had enough to get down the track ahead of Ron. Winning a round is great because you have to win one to get to the next one. Now that we know the track, I think we’ll go a little quicker. We’ll need to be fast to continue winning.”

The victory advances Allen to a quarterfinal showdown with Mark Osborne, who covered the track in 7.072 seconds at 193.88 mph in his opening round win over Jeg Coughlin. Allen has faced Osborne one time this year with Osborne taking the win.

Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Dragster, lost traction off the launching pad and allowed No. 14 qualifier Mike Dunn to steal away a first round victory. Hill eased on and off the accelerator several times down the right side of the strip in a desperate attempt to regain traction but Dunn was steady enough to take the win. The official times had Dunn crossing the line in 4.706 seconds at 312.93 mph to Hill’s 5.018-second, 282.84-mph pass.

“We’re absolutely in knots,” team manager Ercie Hill said. “We keep running great times in qualifying and then struggle on race day. It’s so disheartening.”

By qualifying in the No. 3 position, Hill has now raised his total of top-half qualifying performances to 10 races in 1998. He also has finished as one of the top four qualifiers in seven of the last nine races. Furthermore, Hill extended his current streak of elimination round appearances to 33 straight races. He has notched seven elimination wins this year.

Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac, was outrun by Larry Morgan in the opening round. Morgan tripped the lights in 7.124 seconds at 192.26 mph to nip Thomas’ 7.132-second, 192.84-mph lap.

“We just didn’t have enough clutch in any of the gears,” Thomas said. “I’m frustrated because we really didn’t make a decent run all weekend. This loss dropped us to sixth in the points and there are people all around us in the standings. That’s the way it goes as the season heads down the stretch. We need to get up to speed in a hurry. I’ve got to make some better calls and get some confidence in what we’re doing. I guarantee you, we’ll be ready to go by the time we get to Indy.”

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Jeg Coughlin , Mike Dunn , Ron Krisher , Larry Morgan , Bruce Allen