Chicago Team Pennzoil Round Three Notes

Hill's near-miss only Round 3 excitement CHICAGO (June 5) -- Temperatures soared into the 90-degree range early Saturday afternoon at Route 66 Raceway and slightly slowed the third round of qualifying for the Second Annual Fram Nationals. The ...

Hill's near-miss only Round 3 excitement

CHICAGO (June 5) -- Temperatures soared into the 90-degree range early Saturday afternoon at Route 66 Raceway and slightly slowed the third round of qualifying for the Second Annual Fram Nationals. The increased temperatures at the one-year-old facility caused the track surface to become greasy and, consequentially, the horsepower-laden cars had trouble finding enough traction to get all of their power onto the track.

Here's a quick look at each of the Pennzoil driver's Round 3 passes.

Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, had the most harrowing Round 3 lap of any pro driver. His car launched normally and reached the 330-foot mark under full power when it lost traction and turned approximately 45 degrees to the left. Hill immediately released the accelerator, regained control of his car and successfully avoided an accident. His Round 2 pass of 4.619 seconds at 305.98 mph kept him in seventh place.

"I was looking at a lot of wall there for a second," Hill said. "The car turned so sideways so fast that I thought a rear wheel had come off. That's really unusual for that to happen at that point on the track. I guess it's good to get that out of the way now and we'll certainly heed the warning of how the track is at this time because we're expecting identical conditions tomorrow when eliminations start."

Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird and defending champion of the event, posted one of the best elapsed times of the third round (7.053 seconds at 195.53 mph) but couldn't improve on his 7.024-second, 196.36-mph Friday evening pass. Thomas remains in 14th position in the Pro Stock field.

"We put a new motor in and it accelerated into the clutch a lot harder than the last one," Thomas said. "That's a good sign as far as the future is concerned but in that run it just made us spin the tires like crazy. Plus the track is really in poor shape. We'll have to adjust for the heat and get back after it this afternoon. If there's a chance to move up, I'll take it."

Bruce Allen, the pilot of The Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, posted a 7.076-second lap at 196.07 mph, which was slightly slower than his previous best pass of 7.046 seconds at 195.96 mph that he carded in Round 2. The Arlington, Texas resident stayed just outside the field in 19th place. He has one more chance to qualify this afternoon.

"I think the track is worse now than it was last year when it was brand new," crew chief David Reher said. "It was so gummy out there just past the starting line area it made it impossible to get any kind of traction. Obviously, with no one else moving up at all, this was one of those laps that you basically throw away. Now we have to pray for cloud cover later or I just don't see how we'll be able to move up into the field. It's wait-and-see time."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Bruce Allen