Brainerd Pennzoil's Promising Weekend Ends Early

Promising weekend ends prematurely BRAINERD, Minn. & ...

Promising weekend ends prematurely

BRAINERD, Minn. – Team Pennzoil had a productive weekend at the VisionAire NorthStar Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. The three professional-class Pennzoil-sponsored drivers at the 17-year-old event combined for the best qualifying performance as a team this season with every driver entering Sunday’s action in the top half of their respective fields. But the good fortune that seemed to follow the team on Friday and Saturday disappeared on Sunday with only one elimination-round win recorded.

Here’s a synopsis of each driver’s weekend in Brainerd.

Bruce Allen, the driver of the Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac, logged his 10th elimination round win of the year when he beat Ron Krisher in Sunday’s opening session. Allen had entered the day in the No. 3 position after completing his second-best qualifying session of the season. In the quarterfinals, Allen’s engine disengaged and he was forced to abort his run against Mark Osborne.

“The motor shut off and we don’t exactly know why,” Allen said. “The wheels lifted at the start and when they came back down the engine just quit producing power. It’s real disappointing when you see that (Osborne) only ran a 7.15-second lap. Every pass we made this weekend was better than that. We lost a real good chance to win a round. It just wasn’t meant to be.

“The weekend was a huge boost for us. We ran well and it appears that we’re slowly making progress. We just need to keep everything moving in the right direction. We’ll address this shut-off problem and be ready to go in Indianapolis.”

Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Dragster, was dismissed in the first round of Sunday’s elimination racing when his engine blew a spark plug at the launching pad and coated his tires with oil. The resulting loss of power allowed No. 14 qualifier Mike Dunn to steal away the victory. Hill eased on and off the accelerator several times during the run in a desperate attempt to regain power but Dunn was steady enough to take the win. The official timer had Dunn crossing the line in 4.706 seconds at 312.93 mph to Hill’s 5.018-second, 282.84-mph pass.

“We had a rare mechanical failure,” Hill said in explaining his run. “The spark plug threads on one of the plugs came loose and the engine shot the plug and part of the valve cover off. At that point we were not only running on seven cylinders with a lot less horsepower but there was oil squirting all over the back tires. It’s a real puzzler.”

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.

“As satisfying as it is to be do so well in qualifying, like we have on so many occasions this year, I’d trade it all for some luck and success on Sunday,” Hill said.

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.”

Thomas has 11 elimination round wins in 1998 and was the Pro Stock champion of the Inaugural Route 66 Nationals in Chicago in late May.

Mike Ferderer, the sportsman-class driver of the Pennzoil Super Gas Pontiac and the Gumout Super Comp Dragster, suffered first-round dismissals in both of his cars on Friday afternoon. Ferderer was disqualified with a red-light (starting line) violation in the opening round of Super Comp elimination action. In the Super Gas bracket, Ferderer gained a huge starting line advantage, lead the entire race and was forced to lift off of the accelerator near the finish line to avoid breaking-out of his index time. Just as he lifted, his competitor passed him and won by one-hundredths of a second, 10.01 seconds to 10.02 seconds.

“These things happen,” Ferderer, a three-time world champion, said. “It’s unfortunate because the cars are running great. I’ll have to be better in Indy. I’m heading for an IHRA race next weekend so hopefully I can remind myself how to win.”

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