Thomas and Hill to carry team banner HOUSTON (April 10) - The field for the 12th Annual O'Reilly Nationals presented by Pennzoil was officially set Saturday evening at the conclusion of the fourth and final qualifying session. As usual, ...
Thomas and Hill to carry team banner
HOUSTON (April 10) - The field for the 12th Annual O'Reilly Nationals presented by Pennzoil was officially set Saturday evening at the conclusion of the fourth and final qualifying session. As usual, Houston Raceway Park produced one of the quickest groups of title contenders in the history of the National Hot Rod Association. The other constant factor at this race was the success of Team Pennzoil, who managed to place two drivers into the extraordinarily competitive field. Here's a recap of each Pennzoil driver's weekend.
Eddie Hill, the driver of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, saved his best run for the final qualifying session when he ran a 4.620-second lap at 301.81 mph. Hill's pass earned him the 12th qualifying position overall and sets up a first round battle with current Winston points leader Mike Dunn, who qualified fifth with a 4.547-second, 313.37 mph lap.
"I'm satisfied that we had a good day today because tomorrow's weather conditions should be exactly the same," Hill said. "We've got a little down-track hitch we need to fix but the car is running really well. Opening against Dunn is a real chore. He's got the baddest car out there this year for sure. Although sometimes that can work against you when the track gets real hot. I'll tell you what, if he decides to smoke his tires in Round 1, I'll try not to cry for too long."
Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, used his second round pass of 6.965 seconds at 198.26 mph to garner the eleventh qualifying spot. Thomas will open Sunday's action against the No. 6 qualifier Mark Pawuk, who posted a 6.942, 199.05-second lap.
"We're very encouraged with how the car continued to improve each lap," Thomas said. "Our incremental times during both of today's runs were good and if not for a greasy track, we would have run much quicker. It feels great to finally get a handle on this car and to qualify again. It's starting to feel like it did last year when we were challenging for the points lead. We'll have to be sharp to beat Pawuk but we'll definitely be ready to go. I'm ready to win some rounds."
Bruce Allen, the driver of The Outlaw Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, barely missed the cut for the field of cars that will compete on Sunday. Allen's quickest time was a 6.987-second lap at 197.62 mph, which he ran Saturday morning. The bump spot to make the field was 6.977 seconds.
"We made three good runs here with this new car but we're simply not fast enough," Allen said. "We've spent so much time over the last six months working on the chassis. Now it appears we have that sorted out, which frees us up to chase horsepower. My experience tells me that if you keep working on something, you'll find it. We found our chassis problems now we need to find our power problems. We need to make this car fast enough to qualify near the top of the field at every race. I know we can accomplish this goal and we will."