Las Vegas: Scotty Cannon eliminations summary

Cannon advances to second round. LAS VEGAS (April 6, 2003) -- "It felt like I got a monkey off my back," said Scotty Cannon after winning the first round of eliminations of the NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas ...

Cannon advances to second round.

LAS VEGAS (April 6, 2003) -- "It felt like I got a monkey off my back," said Scotty Cannon after winning the first round of eliminations of the NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It was his first round win of the season in his Oakley Funny Car, and he was elated.

"You'd have thought we'd won the finals," he laughed.

The first round against Dean Skuza, wasn't pretty, as the Oakley car dropped a cylinder at 300 feet, spun the tires and the motor and kicked out a few rods. But the resulting 4.976-second pass at 252.99 mph was enough to defeat Skuza's 6.695/130.89.

The second round saw him paired against his teammate Whit Bazemore for the second time this year, which also produced a somewhat ugly race. Cannon barely made it off the line before the "Sleep Tight...Oakley Design is Awake" decaled Funny Car smoked the tires. Cannon coasted partway up the track and stalled. In the other lane, Bazemore also smoked the tires at half track, then lost a supercharger at the top end after posting a 5.230/250.78 pass for the win.

"The good thing is one of the Schumacher cars advanced to the semifinal; hopefully Baze will win it," said Cannon. "He wanted to probably run better. We were both trying to run real good, I'm pretty sure. In the first round the car went out there and dropped a hole just past 300 feet, spun a little bit and just blew up and kicked a few rods out of it. So, we came back and put a new motor in it. We did a little bit of adjustment on the clutch, allowing for the track conditions.

"It just didn't hold it, it didn't stick. It went out about 20 feet and started to smoke the tires. You're under a lot of pressure right there. When it happens in qualifying I usually catch it -- let off of it a little sooner than that so it won't over-rev and blow up -- but when you're under race conditions if something happens at that point and it smokes the tires there's nothing you can do to pedal it or save it to win anyway, not that early; unless the other guy happens to do the same thing.

"You're actually concentrating on cutting a light and trying to keep it in the groove for the first 100 feet because it's real critical with these Funny Cars to keep them in the groove for the first 100 feet so that when you get to around 200-300 feet, when the clutch really applies itself, the car won't want to get out of the groove and spin the tires and then maybe blow up.

Cannon, his crew chief Phil Shuler and the rest of the team are encouraged but cautiously optimistic by the win. "We only have five or six or seven runs counting Gainesville. It's the only data that we have to even look back on. I'm not making excuses. The way I look at it we're three races and about four test sessions behind because of our own fault. We're going to have to make some headway. We thought about testing tomorrow, but we broke two blowers and in Houston the conditions are totally different from here. You have to run a different motor combination. I don't think testing would be wise here tomorrow unless we were having trouble, like going down the track or not having qualified. I'm not a big fan of testing when you have back-to-back races, because if you go out tomorrow and blow a body up or have some engine failure or just have a real bad day, you've got to be in Houston by Wednesday and Wednesday's close."

Cannon is also looking to give his crew a bit of rest after a tough three months of struggling to get a handle on the car. "We'll get all our stuff together and give our boys a break. It's been three months that we've been beating them half to death. I think Don (Schumacher, team owner) should be seeing a breath of fresh air now. He's got three good running cars now, plus the (U.S. Army) dragster runs good. We'll keep working hard and see what happens."

Cannon now stands 13th in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Funny Car point standings.


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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Dean Skuza , Whit Bazemore , Scotty Cannon