Chicago Team Pennzoil off and running

CHICAGO (June 4) -- The Second Annual Fram Nationals at the state-of-the-art Route 66 Raceway in Joliet began Friday afternoon with the opening round of professional qualifying. The session saw most drivers, including the pros from the Pennzoil...

CHICAGO (June 4) -- The Second Annual Fram Nationals at the state-of-the-art Route 66 Raceway in Joliet began Friday afternoon with the opening round of professional qualifying. The session saw most drivers, including the pros from the Pennzoil stable, searching for the proper set-up for the two-year-old track, and left many teams wishing for more performance tonight when Round 2 takes place.

Here's a look at each Pennzoil driver's Round 1 pass.

Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, opened with a steady lap of 4.692 seconds at 304.25 mph despite running on just seven cylinders for the second half of his pass. The time placed Hill into the No. 14 hole in the 24-car field.

"Any run over 300 mph is good from the standpoint that you can always get some solid data from it," Hill said. "I missed the call on the clutch set-up a little bit but the engine looks pretty good and we should be able to improve drastically tonight. It's good to make a disappointing run by our standards and still be as competitive as we were that time. We'll be ready for some fireworks under the lights."

Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, struggled to find traction at the starting line and went on to post a sub-par, tire-spinning lap of 7.041 seconds at 195.87 mph. The time placed the event's defending champion in 15th place on the qualifying ladder through one round of qualifying.

"I over-estimated what I thought the track could hold this time," Thomas said. "The clutch set-up was off and we spun up real good at the start. I'm a little worried about this engine. It felt real heavy down at the long end from about 1,000 foot on out. We've got some decisions to make before tonight. I'd like to be perfect and put down a real quick time."

Bruce Allen, the pilot of The Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, finished the opening session at the bottom of the 33-car field. Allen's car swerved wildly just off the line as the tires searched for traction, forcing the veteran to shut his car off prematurely.

"We thought we had found something over the last 10 days in testing and we tried it out just now," Allen said. "We ended up being way too aggressive with the clutch and the car out of shape immediately. It's hard to tell whether it was the track or the car at this point. We'll have to analyze the little bit of data we have, see where we're at and start adjusting the car. Tonight should be a lot better. It'll be cooler and we'll have the better (left) lane."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Bruce Allen