Englishtown: Cory McClenathan finals summary

McClenathan maintains third in NHRA POWERade point standings. ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. -- Final eliminations for the eighth of 23 national events on the 2002 NHRA POWERade® Drag Racing Series -- the Matco Tools SuperNationals presented by Racing ...

McClenathan maintains third in NHRA POWERade point standings.

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. -- Final eliminations for the eighth of 23 national events on the 2002 NHRA POWERade® Drag Racing Series -- the Matco Tools SuperNationals presented by Racing Champions -- got under way today at Old Bridge Township Park in Englishtown, N.J.

In the first round, Cory McClenathan, from Anaheim, Calif., driver of the Henkelman & Baca Motorsports Top Fuel Dragster, squared off against Mark Kinsella, from Humble, Texas. McClenathan had qualified #8, while Kinsella finished in the 9th position.

The McClenathan-Kinsella match up ended in speculator fashion with Kinsella going up in a fireball and subsequently exploding the engine sending parts, big and small, in every direction. McClenathan, who had crossed the finish line well ahead of Kinsella, was out of harms way. Kinsella suffered some minor lower back pain from the concussion of the explosion. McClenathan headed for round two.

Next up for McClenathan was Larry Dixon, undoubtedly the hottest driver on the circuit to date. With a seemingly flawless run, Dixon raced to the win light in 4.555 seconds at 325.92 mph. McClenathan, who smoked the tires, could only sit and watch Dixon race away to another win.

"We didn't have our stuff together this weekend," reflected McClenathan. "Every time we tried to go down the track it shook, or I had to pedal it, or whatever. First round today it ran the 67 (4.67 seconds) at 322 (mph) and I thought we were back on track. So I thought, let's try to make this thing go a little quicker. So what did it do? It did the exact same thing it did in Atlanta -- it went out there and smoked the tires real quick in a place where it normally won't do it.

"So Wes (Cerny) is taking the clutch apart, dissecting everything. I told Wes, 'I can't tell you what it's doing, but I can tell you it's not right.' So the crew will go through the clutch and look at everything. I had to pedal it out there and it knocked the blower off, so now we're hurting parts.

"It was just not a good weekend for this Henkelman & Baca team. It's just one of those things. I know we have those but it's amazing how things will jump up and bite you like that. We're just not hot and Dixon is, but we'll be back."

Dixon advanced to the final round before losing to Kenny Bernstein. For McClenathan, it was his third loss to Dixon this season but one only has to look at Dixon's stats to understand his accomplishment thus far this year: He has five wins in seven final rounds. He has been the number one qualifier five times in eight events and has had low elapsed time at four of those eight. Additionally, Dixon has had the top speed at two of the eight races and has been on top of the NHRA POWERade Top Fuel point standing since he first race at Pomona, Calif.

After eight national event of 2002, Dixon has 816 points. Bernstein is just 143 back in second. McClenathan, with 539 points remains third, thanks to Bernstein, who defeated Tony Schumacher in the semifinals today. McClenathan is 277 points behind Dixon, 134 behind Bernstein, 19 ahead of Schumacher, and 103 ahead of Doug Kalitta. Schumacher has 520 points, while Kalitta has 436.

In the other profession categories: Gary Densham defeated Bruce Saver in Funny Car. Pro Stock had it eighth different winner in eight events when Greg Anderson turned back Jeg Coughlin. And finally, in Pro Stock Motorcycle, Antron Brown won his first event of the year besting Craig Treble, who has won two of the four motorcycle races contested thus far this year.

It's back-to-back weekends, the second of three races in a row, for the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. The Henkelman & Baca Motorsports team and driver McClenathan now move to Topeka for the NHRA O'Reilly Summer Nationals at Heartland Park. Professional qualifying gets underway on Friday, May 24th, with final eliminations scheduled for Sunday, May 26th.

-h&b-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Gary Densham , Cory McClenathan