Columbus Pennzoil's Pontiacs Provide Excitement

Pennzoil's Pontiacs provide excitement COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 11) -- Temperatures spent the day inching ever closer to the century mark at National Trail Raceway as qualifying for the 35th Annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals began under hazy skies.

Pennzoil's Pontiacs provide excitement

COLUMBUS, Ohio (June 11) -- Temperatures spent the day inching ever closer to the century mark at National Trail Raceway as qualifying for the 35th Annual Pontiac Excitement Nationals began under hazy skies. The excessive heat caused fits for many of the pro teams as they searched for traction on the greasy track surface. Still, two out of the three Team Pennzoil drivers managed to shrug of the hot conditions and post some impressive Round 1 laps.

Here's a recap of each driver's opening pass in Mid-Ohio.

Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, returned to his usual competitive form and posted the third quickest time of the first session. Thomas' 7.064-second blast at 195.36 mph was identical to the run of 1998 champ Warren Johnson (7.064 at 197.08 mph) and just a tick behind hometown hero Jeg Coughlin (7.056 at 196.50 mph.)

"I'm amazed that we ran that good of a time considering the tires were spinning most of the way down the track," Thomas said. "That's great news because when we do match the clutch to what the track can hold, we'll really be moving. We have be ready by tonight because with these hot temperatures, I believe the field will be set for Sunday tonight."

Bruce Allen, the pilot of The Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, placed his car in the top half of the field in the No. 8 spot with a steady pass of 7.094 seconds at 195.53 mph in Round 1. The pass marks one of the best opening laps Allen has recorded this season.

"That was a great start for us and we were in the lane everyone said was the 'bad' lane," Allen said. "It really sets us up perfectly for tonight. Round 2 could be really good for us. We'll be on the left side and I think we've got enough positive feedback from the data we gathered just now to really get the car set up properly. I'm having some fun now."

Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, overpowered the track and smoked his tires just off the launching pad. He eventually cruised through the timing lights in 9.939 seconds at 83.92 mph, which placed him in the 18th qualifying position.

"That was the easiest set-up we've put on the car this year and it was still too much," Hill said. "We're gonna have to back her down another notch or two. The power was there and the 60-foot time was nice but after that we just gave the track more then it would accept. We'll be much better tonight. I know where were at now and I believe we'll make the right adjustments to get down this track with a real competitive time."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Jeg Coughlin , Warren Johnson , Bruce Allen