MCCLENATHAN SUFFERS RARE FIRST-ROUND LOSS IN VEGAS LAS VEGAS (Oct. 31, 2010) - "It was a $5.00 part and it cost us a chance at $500,000 (the championship)," said crew chief Phil Shuler after Cory McClenathan, No. 2 qualifier at the 10th annual...
MCCLENATHAN SUFFERS RARE FIRST-ROUND LOSS IN VEGAS
LAS VEGAS (Oct. 31, 2010) - "It was a $5.00 part and it cost us a chance at $500,000 (the championship)," said crew chief Phil Shuler after Cory McClenathan, No. 2 qualifier at the 10th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals, made a rare first-round exit in Sunday's Top Fuel eliminations.
McClenathan, racing the FRAM Top Fuel dragster for Don Schumacher Racing, struck the tires sharply while leading Mark Mariani in the opening round, slowing to a 4.312-second run at 181.52 mph, while Mariani cruised to a 3.930/307.44 victorious pass. "It broke an exhaust keeper, dropped an exhaust valve, and went bang," Shuler continued.
The only ray of hope McClenathan had in his quest for his first Top Fuel championship was the second-round exit by points leader Larry Dixon. McClenathan is now in third, 106 markers behind Dixon. Mathematically, he is still in the running. However, Cory Mac's DSR teammate Tony Schumacher moved around him in the semifinal round, then won the event. McClenathan is now 21 points back of Schumacher, with one race remaining in the season.
"You know what, parts failure is just something you can't control," said McClenathan. "We try to control every single thing we do; that's why we do so much in-house at DSR. But when it comes to keepers like that, we change them out about half-season just to make sure they're not going to fail. And we just caught one short.
"It's one of those deals: when it breaks through and it drops a valve, man, it can be catastrophic, and it was. And talk about timing being the worst. The timing couldn't have been any worse. We were going to run a 3.81 (-second lap), something like that. It would have been a good, solid run to start the out the day. We never lose first round (it was only his third first-round loss of the year). I'm just proud of the FRAM guys and what they've done this year.
"Obviously, we've kind of given it to Dixon. At the same time, now we have Tony getting right into the mix, and it looks like it's going to be a battle to the finish in Pomona. That's all there is to it. We may end up just fighting for a second-place spot."
Next up is the 46th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif., No. 11-14.