ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 18, 1999) -- It's not very often that a negative becomes a positive. That scenario happened to Cory McClenathan and the MBNA Top Fuel team Sunday during the Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga. The ...
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 18, 1999) -- It's not very often that a negative becomes a positive. That scenario happened to Cory McClenathan and the MBNA Top Fuel team Sunday during the Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga.
The outcome enabled McClenathan to remain fourth in NHRA Winston Series point standings - albeit in a tie with Doug Herbert - going into the Mopar Parts Nationals at Raceway Park this weekend.
After qualifying a season-low 13th, McClenathan's goal of winning two straight races ended with a broken oil-pressure line that leaked oil on the track during the car's first-round burnout. With team owner Joe Gibbs looking on, crew chief Mike Green was forced to shut off the engine, giving Tony Schumacher a solo run.
"It was one of those freak deals," McClenathan said. "When I was backing up (after the burnout), I saw moisture on the track and I knew it was either fuel or oil. If it had been fuel, it would've evaporated, but when it didn't I knew what to expect. The only thing we could do was shut it off.
"We don't know why the oil line broke," he continued. "It's frustrating enough when you can't make a run, but it's even more discouraging to stand back and watch your opponent make a run that was beatable. It's been a while since I've been shut off at the line and it's still the worst way to lose a race."
McClenathan hadn't had to deal with a no-race situation in eight years. The last time he was forced to mechanically miss a round of eliminations was in his rookie season in 1991.
OK, so that was the negative portion of the weekend. The positive side came when many of the drivers clustered behind series leader Mike Dunn also went home early. Larry Dixon, Doug Herbert and Kenny Bernstein all lost in the first round, and Tony Schumacher exited in the second. McClenathan has 430 points, as does Herbert.
"We're going to regroup and go after it at Englishtown," McClenathan added. "We know the track will be good at Englishtown. I think all the drivers and crews have been looking forward to getting to a good track to see what the cars will really do. I know Mike Green (the MBNA dragster's crew chief) feels that way."
McClenathan will be looking for his first win at Englishtown. He has been second twice - to Joe Amato last year and again to Amato in 1992.
Although he was coming off his first win of the season, McClenathan was never able to get down the tricky racing surface quickly enough to get into the top half of the 16-car field. His best run, 4.784 seconds, put him 13th in the field. His best speed was 282.48 mph.
"We really didn't have a good race day morning at Commerce," said McClenathan. "We had engine problems and had to pull the motor apart. We changed one cylinder head, one piston and the blower before the run. Like I said, it was just one of those days.
"We did get a couple breaks when some of the right guys also lost early in the race so we didn't drop too far in the standings."
McClenathan be striving to climb up the ladder at Englishtown, where qualifying gets underway Friday at 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday's sessions will be at noon and 4 p.m., and Sunday's eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
1999 Top Fuel Record Standing: 4th, 430 points Round Record: 10W-6L Finals: one - Richmond Wins: one - Richmond Quickest ET: 4.573, Houston Fastest Speed: 319.20 mph, Houston
Career Top Fuel Record First Season: 1991 Best Season Finish: 2nd - '92, '95, '97, '98 Races Qualified: 151 Qualifying Streak: 142 consecutive races Wins: 23 (third in all-time Top Fuel victories) Runners-up: 12 Last Win: 5/3/99 -- Richmond Last Final: 5/3/99 -- Richmond No. 1 Qualifier: 24 times Last No. 1 Qualifier: 1998, Brainerd Quickest E.T.: 4.559, 1998, Houston I Fastest Speed: 322.92, 1998, Phoenix
At Englishtown Best Finishes: Runner-up -- 1998 and 1992