Indy Top Fuel notebook

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: NHRA Communications (626) 914-4761 U.S. NATIONALS TOP FUEL NOTEBOOK *Strong combination: A new chassis has helped Cory McClenathan win four consecutive races, but McClenathan has helped himself with ...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: NHRA Communications (626) 914-4761

U.S. NATIONALS TOP FUEL NOTEBOOK *Strong combination: A new chassis has helped Cory McClenathan win four consecutive races, but McClenathan has helped himself with strong driving during the streak. Just don't tell him that. "The guys on the team are the ones during the real work," McClenathan said. "I think my part in this whole equation is getting the car from point A to point B." Cory Mac is doing that as well as any driver. His superior reaction time helped offset a performance disadvantage in a final-round victory over Gary Scelzi at the Northwest Nationals on Aug. 3 at Seattle. McClenathan also guided the McDonald's Dragster down from a large wheelstand against Bob Vandergriff Jr. in the final of the Champion Auto Stores Nationals on Aug. 17 at Brainerd, Minn. He kept his foot on the throttle during the entire high-flying act, delivering his fourth straight win. *Perfect timing: Cory McClenathan's four-race winning streak not only has pulled him to within four points of second-place Joe Amato in the NHRA Winston Top Fuel point standings, but it's probably also helping team owner Joe Gibbs when he pitches companies to sponsor his team next season. McDonald's announced in late May that it would not sponsor Gibbs' NHRA team next season. Former NFL coach Gibbs owns the dragster driven by McClenathan and the Pontiac Firebird Funny Car driven by Cruz Pedregon. "We need to show our stuff here trying to get sponsorship for both the Funny Car and my car for next year," McClenathan said. "It's not any easy job for anybody to do. We're doing whatever we have to do to make that happen. "These wins are coming at a perfect time. That shows what we're made of. Joe Gibbs is a great spokesperson for any sponsor out there. That takes a lot of pressure off of me, and all I have to do is drive the best that I can." *How low can Joe go?: Joe Amato recorded the quickest time in NHRA history, 4.562 seconds, in the Keystone Automotive Warehouse Dragster at the Champion Auto Stores Nationals earlier this month at Brainerd, Minn. But Amato was unable to back up the time within 1 percent at this event for an NHRA national record. Five-time NHRA Winston champion Amato holds the NHRA national record of 4.564 seconds, set at the Chief Auto Parts Winternationals in February 1997 at Pomona, Calif. *Streaks end: Gary Scelzi lost in the first round for the first time this season in the Team Winston Dragster owned and tuned by Alan Johnson when a fuel line ruptured against Vicky Fanning at the Champion Auto Stores Nationals earlier this month at Brainerd, Minn. Scelzi's loss marked the first time in the last 33 NHRA national events that Johnson's car lost in the first round. The last time Johnson's car lost in the first round was at the 1995 U.S. Nationals, with his brother, the late Blaine Johnson, driving. Blaine Johnson suffered fatal injuries during qualifying at the 1996 U.S. Nationals. *Replacements OK: NHRA has changed its competition rules to allow a competitor in the professional categories to use a replacement vehicle during a national event, at the discretion of event director. The use of a backup chassis due to a crash or fire previously was forbidden by NHRA rules. Competitors could only enter one chassis per race. Backup vehicles cannot have been used by any other competitor during the event. Backups also cannot be used once eliminations have started unless eliminations are postponed and rescheduled. Teams can only use one backup vehicle per event. *Expo: Many top drivers in the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series will appear with their race cars in downtown Indianapolis during the Western Auto Parts America "Thunder In The Streets" motorsports expo Aug. 27. "Thunder In The Streets" is a street festival with a motorsports theme presented by Western Auto Parts America, the National Hot Rod Association and Indianapolis Raceway Park. The expo, open from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., will take place at Monument Circle, located on Meridian and Market Streets. Admission is free. More than 10 interactive displays, NHRA race cars and race-car transporters will be on display for fans. Many top NHRA drivers will sign autographs, including John Force, Kenny Bernstein, Shelly Anderson, Randy Anderson, Gary Scelzi and Whit Bazemore. *Schedule: Pro qualifying starts at 7 p.m. Aug. 29. Qualifying will continue with sessions at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Aug. 30-31. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. Sept. 1. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 27. *Tickets: Tickets are available for the U.S. Nationals. Call NHRA Ticketing at (800) 884-6472 for ticket information. Tickets also can be purchased at Ticketmaster outlets. To order tickets by phone from Ticketmaster, call (317) 239-5151. *On TV: The Nashville Network (TNN) will televise three hours of live semifinal- andfinal-round competition from the U.S. Nationals at 3:30 p.m. (CDT) Sept. 1. TNN will televise the Big Bud Shootout live from 4-5 p.m. (CDT) Aug. 31 and The Wax Shop Pro Bike Dash live from 4-5 p.m. (CDT) Aug. 30. -30- 8/19/97-II2-133

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kenny Bernstein , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Cory Mac , Bob Vandergriff , Shelly Anderson