MCCLENATHAN REACHES SEMIFINALS IN EMOTIONAL DAY AT E-TOWN ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 22, 2008) -- In an emotional day of eliminations competition, following the death of Funny Car racer Scott Kalitta in a violent crash on Saturday, Cory McClenathan...
MCCLENATHAN REACHES SEMIFINALS IN EMOTIONAL DAY AT E-TOWN
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (June 22, 2008) -- In an emotional day of eliminations competition, following the death of Funny Car racer Scott Kalitta in a violent crash on Saturday, Cory McClenathan reached the semifinals for the second time in the past three races at the NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. He was defeated by his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher, who ran a 4.615-second elapsed time at 321.27 mph to beat McClenathan's 4.594/314.17, the quickest elapsed time of the round.
Schumacher went on to win the event, scoring the 109th national-event victory for Don Schumacher Racing. DSR teammate Chip Ellis, riding the Schumacher Electric Suzuki, won the Pro Stock Motorcycle event, which was the 108th national-event win for DSR. The pair also collected the 15th DSR double-up event win.
Expecting to face Doug Kalitta in the opening round, McClenathan was first up in eliminations and made a solo pass after Kalitta's team made the decision to withdraw its teams (Doug Kalitta, Hillary Will and Dave Grubnic) after Doug's cousin Scott was fatally injured. The FRAM dragster recorded a run of 4.586/322.50, which gave him lane choice over Larry Dixon in the second round. After a rain delay, he defeated Dixon with a 4.671/304.74 to Dixon's 4.701/282.19 and advanced to the semifinals.
"The Kalittas have been there for me as long as I've been doing this and it was my pleasure to be the first one to go down the track today," said McClenathan, who is in his 18th season in Top Fuel, the longest tenure in the class. "That 4.58 was for Scott and the rest of the day was for Scott. That guy was quite a character and I was thankful to have known him so well.
"At one point we stopped thinking about Scott and started thinking about Scott's family and the people who loved him most. That's where everybody is with their thoughts right now.
"As far as racing today, we feel fortunate to have gone a few rounds," added McClenathan, who remained sixth in the Top Fuel point standings following his strong effort today. "The FRAM team did a really great job and we had some help from the DSR Rockstar team and the Valvoline guys and I really appreciate it.
"To get beat by your teammate is one thing, but to let your guys down and get beat on a holeshot with the quickest ET of the round is even worse. It tells me that having Lasik eye surgery this early before a race maybe wasn't the smartest thing to do. If I had to do it again, maybe I'd do it differently. I thought I could get better reaction times with it and that's not the case so far." McClenathan's reaction time was a .131, Schumacher's a .050 (.000 is perfect).
"It was a difficult weekend for everybody," he added. "I'm going to beat myself up worse than anyone else over the deal. I'm disappointed in myself and in letting my guys down, but in all reality I shouldn't even be thinking about that. I should feel lucky that I'm going to go home and hug the ones I love and feel bad for the Kalitta family and Scott and that's the way it should be."
The next race for McClenathan and the FRAM team will the NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, June 27-29.