Denver Pennzoil Ready for Sunday Action

Pennzoil pair charges into Sunday's action DENVER (July 17) -- Inclimate weather severely rearranged the professional qualifying sessions of the 21st Annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, but two of the pros that race for ...

Pennzoil pair charges into Sunday's action

DENVER (July 17) -- Inclimate weather severely rearranged the professional qualifying sessions of the 21st Annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway, but two of the pros that race for Team Pennzoil managed to handle the adversity and successfully place their machines into Sunday's championship chase.

Friday's rain forced the outright cancellation of the first of four scheduled qualifying sessions and stalled the second round just after the Pro Stockers had completed their opening passes. The continued delays eventually forced the National Hot Rod Association to call off the rest of Friday evening's action and they elected to schedule three fuel sessions and two more rounds of Pro Stock racing Saturday.

By the time the smoke cleared, Pennzoil pilots Eddie Hill and Bruce Allen had found slots in their respective fields, setting the table for a possible Pennzoil victory party Sunday. Meanwhile, their teammate Mike Thomas struggled to find the correct tune-up for Thunder Mountain and failed to qualify for the elimination session.

Here's the latest news from each driver that races under the Pennzoil umbrella.

Eddie Hill, the driver of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, posted three laps on Saturday, the best of which was a mid-afternoon run of 4.802 seconds at 300.86 mph. The time puts Hill in the No. 11 position heading into Sunday's elimination rounds where he'll face the No. 6 qualifier Cory McClenathan. McClenathan qualified with a time of 4.742 seconds at 305.29 mph and will have lane choice over Hill in tomorrow's first round.

"First and foremost, it's great to qualify and to be around for Sunday's action," Hill said. "We would have liked to have qualified better and I think we have a car here that could have put us up near the top. I just got a little too aggressive in the final session and smoked the tires. It's too bad because that was the one session that ended up being the best round of the day.

"We did have a great launch before the tires let go and that, combined with the info we got in the other two rounds, will really help us get set for tomorrow. We are confident that we can do well. We just need to be patient and race the track one lap at a time."

Bruce Allen, the driver of The Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac, will use his Saturday morning lap of 7.414 seconds at 185.61 mph to qualify his machine in the No. 13 spot in the field. Allen will open Sunday's action against Troy Coughlin, who posted a 7.369-second lap at 187.11 mph to grab the fourth qualifying position. Coughlin will have lane choice.

"I really like how we're running right now," Allen said. "If we had been able to run that last lap all the way through the lights then we'd be one of the top four or five cars. The car just rattled the tires a little bit between fourth and fifth gear and it was enough to knock me out of the groove. Otherwise, that would have been a nice lap.

"This is one of those rare occasions where I can truly say we have a great chance to do well regardless of where we start or what lane we happen to be in. It doesn't matter to me. I know for a fact that we are, at the very least, Troy's equal on this track."

Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, failed to qualify for this event. His best lap of the weekend was a 7.450-second pass at 184.30 mph, which left him in the 19th position in the 26-car field.

"I missed the set-up," Thomas said. "I've missed it all weekend. I don't know if there is something wrong with the engine or if there is something wrong with the car, it just wasn't working right all weekend. The car spun too much and it seemed to bog in the middle of the track. I can't explain it.

"What's strange is that all of our Finish Line motors (which are also used by Mike Edwards, Richie Stevens, Mike Trumble, Ron Krisher and Tom Hammonds) are struggling here. Maybe it's something to do with the altitude.

"It's very, very disappointing. We were hoping to make a big move in the points. Now, I just want to put this race behind us and move on. Hopefully, we won't lose too much ground in the points standings."

Thomas has qualified for nine events this season and held the 11th position in the Winston championship points standings entering this event. He has won five elimination round races in 1999.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Troy Coughlin , Ron Krisher , Cory McClenathan , Bruce Allen , Mike Trumble , Mike Edwards