Denver Friday Recap

MORRISON - Friday Recap by Larry Sullivan MORRISON, Colo. - SUMMIT FastNews - Cory McClenathan, Whit Bazemore, Warren Johnson, and Matt Hines qualified atop the ladders for their respective Professional categories at the 20th annual NHRA...

MORRISON - Friday Recap by Larry Sullivan MORRISON, Colo. - SUMMIT FastNews - Cory McClenathan, Whit Bazemore, Warren Johnson, and Matt Hines qualified atop the ladders for their respective Professional categories at the 20th annual NHRA Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals. Brutal afternoon sun produced mostly tire smoke during afternoon qualifying at Bandimere Speedway, near Denver. Conditions were so severe that the power company was unable to keep up with the local demand for air conditioning and the racing shut down for almost an hour while track crews transferred critical functions to generators. Cooler air and track temperatures during the evening session not only brought relief to the fans and crews, they also led to track records in the two normally-aspirated Professional categories. Hines was the first to explore the record-breaking potential, driving his Pro Stock Bike to a track record elapsed time of 7.814 seconds. That erased Dave Schultz' record of 7.823, set in 1997. Hines said of the run, "It was a pretty tough run," going on to attribute the record run to the improved traction down track once the sun went down, "Our 60-foot (time) was actually worse on that run." Johnson stunned the crowd, his fellow competitors, and even himself by demolishing both ends of the Pro Stock track record, his 7.346 second elapsed time much quicker that Jim Yates' 1997 record of 7.403 and Johnson's 187.46 mph speed much faster than his own 1997 record of 185.52 mph. Kurt Johnson and V. Gaines also qualified under Yates' prior ET record, and fourth-place qualifier Richie Stevens was only a thousandth slower. For once, Johnson was almost speechless, saying, "It surprised us." Though he expected to beat the old record, he expected to run a 7.36-7.37 ET based on testing at Bandimere Speedway a week ago. "The air was about 1,000 feet better than this afternoon, approximately a tenth of a second, but a big part of the improvement was in the track cooling off about 30 degrees." Bazemore took advantage of an earlier incident to be better prepared for the evening session, where he took the number one spot in Funny Car by running a 5.167 second elapsed time at 289.85 mph. During the afternoon session, just as Bazemore was staging, the plug vibrated out of the generator running the starting tree. Bazemore faced a similar situation earlier this year, in Joliet, Ill., and made the mistake that time of running immediately after power was restored. This time he took all the time allowed by the rules and made that run when the sun went behind the ridge beside the track, putting his lane in shadow. What they learned on that run allowed the crew to do a better job of adjusting for conditions in the evening session. "That was a bad problem that turned out good," he said. McClenathan matched Joe Amato's 4.868-second elapsed time exactly during the evening session, earning the top spot by running a faster speed, 289.57 mph to Amato's 287.90. As he did last year, McClenathan debuted a new car here, also leading the way in the afternoon qualifying session. Asked if he planned to make that a tradition, he replied, "As long as it keeps on doing that, we will...It's a good omen for us." He also described the new car's personality by saying, "For only two passes, I'm very comfortable in this car. It's really smooth." Qualifying continues Saturday, with final eliminations set for Sunday. Results provided by the FastNews Network, courtesy of Summit Racing Equipment ** http://www.summitracing.com/ **

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Series NHRA
Drivers Matt Hines , Kurt Johnson , Whit Bazemore , Joe Amato , Cory McClenathan