Chicago Team Pennzoil Eliminations Report

Team Pennzoil surrenders early CHICAGO (June 6) -- A promising day ended early for Team Pennzoil as both of its professional drivers were eliminated in Sunday's opening round of eliminations of the Second Annual Fram Nationals at Route 66...

Team Pennzoil surrenders early

CHICAGO (June 6) -- A promising day ended early for Team Pennzoil as both of its professional drivers were eliminated in Sunday's opening round of eliminations of the Second Annual Fram Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet.

Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird and defending champion of the event, lost his first-round battle with Mike Edwards at the starting line. Thomas posted a superior elapsed time of 7.096 seconds at 195.17 mph to Edwards' 7.123-second lap at 195.39 mph but lost the race by 0.005 of a second due to Edwards' 0.429 second start against Thomas 0.461-second launch.

"Not having lane choice burned us," Thomas said. "He definitely got me at the light but I caught him and passed him by the 330-foot mark. Then my car hit that bump out there, got pushed out of the groove a little and it just never hooked back up to the track. It seemed like we swapped the lead 30 times before the finish line.

"The Pennzoil car ran great and we just missed the one good qualifying session, which ended up costing us lane choice. By the end of qualifying we were the third quickest car in the field. It was just a matter of bad timing. We'll be back with guns blazing in Columbus."

Thomas entered the race in 14th place in the Winston points standings. He has qualified for seven of nine races this season and has logged three elimination round wins.

Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, lost traction 300 feet into his first round race against Bob Vandergriff and gave the win away with a lap of 6.557 seconds at 125.80 mph to Vandergriff's 4.730-second, 303.16 mph pass.

"What a bummer," Hill said. "What's usually the hardest part of a run, the launch, we executed perfectly. And what's usually one of the easier parts of a run, the transition, we missed. Blame the tuner, and that's me. I overestimated what I thought the track could hold in that area and I didn't make the right call. I'm sorely disappointed.

"There's lots of positives coming out of this weekend. We qualified well. The launch was textbook and the new Stage II heads we installed are working great. The engine life has never been better, thanks to Pennzoil oil, and we've got lots of power. Plus, we've been real consistent for several races now. Everything is happy except me and the crew right now."

Hill has qualified for eight of nine races this season and has logged seven elimination round wins. Entering this race he was ranked 10th in the Winston points standings. He has successfully qualified in the top half of the field on six occasions.

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Bob Vandergriff