INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Oct. 3, 2000) -- This has not been Cory McClenathan's favorite drag racing season, and it took a turn for the worse Tuesday when Joe Gibbs, owner of McClenathan's MBNA Top Fuel dragster, announced he was ending his drag...
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Oct. 3, 2000) -- This has not been Cory McClenathan's favorite drag racing season, and it took a turn for the worse Tuesday when Joe Gibbs, owner of McClenathan's MBNA Top Fuel dragster, announced he was ending his drag racing program after the 2000 season.
"I'm looking for a job for the first time in 10 years," said McClenathan, who has driven for Gibbs since 1995.
"I've enjoyed every part of my relationship with Joe Gibbs Racing and everyone involved with the organization," he continued. "The association with his team definitely bettered my career. I've always said that it is good for race teams to have long-term relationships with sponsors and, in my case, the same goes for an owner."
When McClenathan joined Joe Gibbs Racing in 1995, the team was sponsored by McDonald's. MBNA became the primary sponsor in 1999. During his time with Gibbs, McClenathan won 20 of his 24 NHRA Winston Series races, including a record-equaling six in successive years, 1997 and 1998.
"I really appreciate what Joe has done for me personally, both on the track and off, in the last six years," McClenathan added. "I always tried to do the best job I could, whether it was during races or at sponsor or media functions.
"Our MBNA team will continue to run as hard and do the best we can in the last four races of the season. We'd like to give Joe a race win or two before he leaves."
Their first opportunity comes this weekend (Friday through Sunday) during the AutoZone Nationals at Memphis, where Cory Mac is a two-time winner (1992, 1995). McClenathan also enjoyed his relationship with his Gibbs Racing teammates, Bobby Labonte, the Winston Cup point leader, Tony Stewart, Jason Leffler, J.D. Gibbs and Coy Gibbs.
"I hope Bobby Labonte wins the championship," McClenathan said. Cory Mac holds the longest qualifying streak in Top Fuel, 176 races and counting. His 24 wins rank third among all Top Fuel drivers.
He began his Top Fuel career driving the McClenathan family-owned dragster from 1991-93. He moved to Larry Minor's McDonald's team in 1994 and then to Gibbs in 1995.
"I'd like to thank all the sponsors who helped us this year - MBNA, Circuit City, Easy Care, Gumout, Goodyear, Mac Tools, Pontiac, Hot Rod Magazine, Wix Filters and Husqvarna," McClenathan commented.
Other races remaining include the O'Reilly Fall Nationals, Oct. 20-22, at Ennis, Texas; the Matco Tools SuperNationals, Oct. 27-29, at Baytown, Texas; and the Auto Club Finals, Nov. 9-12, at Pomona, Calif.