New Car For Cory Mac: Can Denver Launch Another Gem? July 8, 1998 As the NHRA circuit begins the second half of the season, Cory McClenathan is hoping what worked before will work again. A year ago McClenathan and the McDonald's Top Fuel...
New Car For Cory Mac: Can Denver Launch Another Gem?
July 8, 1998
As the NHRA circuit begins the second half of the season, Cory McClenathan is hoping what worked before will work again.
A year ago McClenathan and the McDonald's Top Fuel team unveiled a new car in Denver at the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals. That was the start of one of the most incredible streaks in NHRA Top Fuel racing.
McClenathan won in Denver, his first of four straight (and five out of six) and went from an obscure fifth in the point standings to a title contender. He ended the 1997 season in second place.
McClenathan's success has carried over into 1998. He has won four times this season and has led in the Top Fuel standings since March 22.
Now, McClenathan is set to debut a new car again at the Mile-High Nationals (July 17-19) and is hopeful that builder Murf McKinney has created another gem.
"The car we're parking was a masterpiece," said McClenathan. "We hate to retire it but the pipes are wearing out.''
In one year (22 races), the old car, owned by former NFL coach Joe Gibbs, posted 10 wins (six in 1997 and four 1998), two runner-up finishes and 53 round wins. The car was also the first to crack the 320 mile-per-hour barrier and twice set national speed records at 321.77 mph and 322.92.
"We're confident that the new car is every bit as good as the old car," said crew chief Mike Green. "The old car did what we wanted it to do this year -- to keep us in contention at mid-season. It deserves a rest after making 159 runs. Actually, we don't like to run a car for more than 120 runs. But when the car reached that number [in April] it was still winning races and we decided to postpone the change."
While Green is confident, he is aware of the unknowns of a new car.
"Ask any crew chief, driver or builder and they will all say that a new car brings out a little apprehension," Green said. "A new car is something of an unknown. Its behavior, its characteristics, its reactions are never exactly the same as its predecessor."
And that's one of the reasons why McClenathan, Green and Gibbs are reluctantly saying good-bye to the car that brought them plenty of success.
"It has been a truly amazing car,'' McClenathan said. "The crew maximized what it could from it. - and we had some unprecedented success. It has been a great thrill for me to drive such a dominant car.''
And the new car?
"It's another McKinney 300-inch wheelbase special,'' McClenathan said. "We know there's always a sort-out process, but we're confident because we're entering the part of the season where we've excelled in the past.
"We knew we couldn't run the old car forever. And I am happy that we picked Denver to make the change because the Mile-High Nationals was a springboard for us a year ago and we would dearly love to have similar success with our new car. We can't wait to start it up and see what we have.''