McClenathan Adopts 'Spoiler' Role For Final Five NHRA Races Because his FRAM Top Fuel team was not able to find a consistent tune-up that could keep Cory McClenathan in championship contention, the veteran driver from Lake Havasu City,...
McClenathan Adopts 'Spoiler' Role For Final Five NHRA Races
Because his FRAM Top Fuel team was not able to find a consistent tune-up that could keep Cory McClenathan in championship contention, the veteran driver from Lake Havasu City, Ariz., wants to help determine the eventual winner.
"I don't have any favorites," he said. "I still want to win races, and that's what we will be looking for over the last five races of the season. We' d like to play a part in the outcome by beating every one of the top eight cars when we have a chance to race them."
There is the motivation for McClenathan, in his 16th full season of NHRA POWERade Series competition. And he is serious. "We want to be a thorn in their sides; the car they don't want to race. Our goal is to win races and get this team dialed in for 2008."
McClenathan's next opportunity to play spoiler comes in the 20th O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals, Sept. 14-16, at Memphis Motorsports Park. It is the second of four events in NHRA's Countdown to Four championship format.
"Memphis is the place where I won my first Top Fuel race," he added, "and that was in 1992. We had a good weekend then with Jimmy Prock tuning the car. I can't think of a better place to win with our new team."
McClenathan has qualified for all three races with his new team and advanced one round each time. He's also improved his qualifying performances, going from 16th, to 11th, to ninth.
"Keith Adams, our new crew chief, and I are getting to know each other. He' s doing a good job," McClenathan said. "I'm excited to be able to get after it again and see what Keith can do to help us improve even more."
His first-round win at Indianapolis on Labor Day came against Morgan Lucas, another driver who wasn't in the top eight. But McClenathan drew a toughie in the quarterfinals -- defending race and POWERade champion Tony Schumacher. His quickest run of the day, 4.544 seconds, was enough to end Cory Mac's day.
But it didn't dampen his enthusiasm.
"We have some issues with our Friday night tune-ups," McClenathan said. "We need to get down the track in the night qualifying session. If you don't, you are in trouble. That's one area Keith and (assistant crew chief) Tony Shortall will be working on. I'm confident that we can continue improving . . . and keep the guys in the race for the championship on their toes."
The new format, however, ends McClenathan's streak of top 10 finishes at 15. NHRA is recognizing only those included in the top eight this year.
Fun at Mid-Ohio
McClenathan had an opportunity to drive race cars that turn left and right during a recent one-day outing Mid-Ohio race track's 2.4-mile road course in Lexington.
"The folks at JEGS invited me to the event that included a road-course driving school," McClenathan said. "It was a blast driving around the track. It certainly is a lot different than what I do. Troy Coughlin and Scott "Woody" Woodruff, JEGS' pr guy, were there."