Denver Race Recap

MORRISON - Race Recap by Larry Sullivan MORRISON, Colo. - SUMMIT FastNews - Number one qualifiers Cory McClenathan, Top Fuel, and Matt Hines, Pro Stock Bike, were joined in the winners' circle by Tony Pedregon, Funny Car, and Jeg Coughlin,...

MORRISON - Race Recap by Larry Sullivan MORRISON, Colo. - SUMMIT FastNews - Number one qualifiers Cory McClenathan, Top Fuel, and Matt Hines, Pro Stock Bike, were joined in the winners' circle by Tony Pedregon, Funny Car, and Jeg Coughlin, Pro Stock, at the 20th annual NHRA Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals Sunday. Intermittent clouds gave the fans and racers occasional relief from the oppressive heat that set records for the Denver area the past few days, but the temperature hovered near 100 degrees all day. The hot weather limited performance, perhaps best evidenced by the fact that there were no 300 mph runs during the event. McClenathan faced his closest competitor in the Winston points, Joe Amato, in the final round. Had Amato won, McClenathan would have led by just one point. However, when Amato smoked the tires and McClenathan carded a 4.926 at 297.52 mph, he increased the margin to 41 points. That's still a razor-slim margin, just two rounds of competition. McClenathan moved through a tough Top Fuel field in a new car, but his closest call came in the first round, racing lightly-regarded Vicky Fanning. McClenathan lost traction shortly after leaving the starting line, but then so did Fanning. "About 60 feet off the line in the first round I thought it was all over." McClenathan's win duplicates his win here a year ago, when the team also debuted a new car. That win was the first of four in a row and the first of an amazing eleven wins in the last 23 events. In 1998 he has five wins in six final round appearances. However, past history doesn't mean much according to McClenathan, "No matter how many times you win, when you don't win for a while you begin to wonder if you ever will again." Pedregon met Ron Capps in the final round, using a quicker reaction time and a 5.417 second, 282.30 mph clocking to win against Capps' quicker 5.399 at 279.93. Earlier Pedregon defeated Chuck Etchells, who is Pedregon's teammate John Force's closest pursuer in the Winston points after Force had already lost, preserving Force's one-point lead. Said Pedregon, "I'm glad to be able to take Etchells out and keep John in the lead. I know it's only one point, but it looks good on paper." Pedregon continued the family win streak, his brother Frank winning the previous two events, and was Tony's second in as many final rounds this year.

But his day wasn't an easy one, beginning with his crew chief, John Medlen, burned his arm while welding a bracket, continuing through damaged engines, and even a nosebleed by one of his crew members. "It was just one of those weekends when you get beat up. We've got engines laying all over the pits, we're tripping over blocks." Coughlin faced an awesome challenge, with Kurt Johnson, the number two qualifier, on his side of the ladder and Warren Johnson, the number one qualifier and points leader, on the other. Coughlin faced and defeated both of them, defeating Kurt in the semifinals and Warren in the finals. Coughlin's 7.468 at 184.31 mph bettered Warren's 7.476 at 186.10. "When you go against both Johnsons in the same day and get by both of them, that says a lot." Hines carded a string of 7.80s elapsed time during Sunday's eliminations and posted the quickest elapsed time in every round. He met Angelle Seeling in the final round, his 7.826 at 175.06 mph more than enough to prevail over her 7.885 at 171.07. The win was his seventh in eight final round appearances this year. Said the Trinidad, Colo. resident, "It's just unbelievable, not just to win in front of the home town fans, but to do it three years in a row." Final Round Results in Other Categories: Federal-Mogul Dragster - Shelly Howard defeated David Wells Federal-Mogul Funny Car - Johnny Gray defeated Tony Bartone Competition Eliminator - John Geyer defeated Lou Ficco Super Stock - Gary Stinnett defeated Abe Loewen Super Comp - Gary Stinnett defeated Greg Carrillo Stock Eliminator - Jody Lang defeated Leighton Schmidt Super Gas - Paul Pittman defeated Dave Slatten Results provided by the FastNews Network, courtesy of Summit Racing Equipment ** **

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Series NHRA
Drivers Matt Hines , Jeg Coughlin , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Tony Bartone , Ron Capps , John Force , Joe Amato , Chuck Etchells , Johnny Gray , David Wells , Shelly Howard , Paul Pittman