Memphis: Lee Callaway race summary

Engine problems derail Callaway in semifinals MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Sometimes you just have a weekend where you just cant get things to go your way. Such was the case with NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster driver Lee Callaway during this past weekend's...

Engine problems derail Callaway in semifinals

MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Sometimes you just have a weekend where you just cant get things to go your way. Such was the case with NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster driver Lee Callaway during this past weekend's Division 4 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event at Memphis Motorsports Park, just outside of Memphis, Tenn. Engine problems, primarily in the valvetrain area, marred the much-anticipated debut of his state-of-the-art Chuck Haase' chassis, causing him to lose his semifinal round bout with A/Fuel heavy hitter Keith Stark.

Callaway, from Baytown, Texas, qualified his Ora Vasquez tuned Blown Alcohol Dragster fifth in the eight car field with a 5.642 second elapsed time at 251.86 mph. In round one, he defeated No. 4 qualifier James Thompson's Dr. Pepper Express entry with an off-pace 5.755 at 233.68 mph. The win came with a high cost, as a broke pushrod lead to the engine kicking the rods out just past half track. The crew worked feverishly to get the team's spare motor in the car in time for the semifinals, and succeeded in that mission. Callaway's engine problems were not done, however, as the engine dropped a valve just off the starting line against Stark in the semifinals. Stark went on to take the win with a 5.704 at 224.92 mph.

"You really hate to have weekends like this one," said Callaway. "We had problems in the valvetrain all weekend; we didn't make one run on all eight cylinders. After it killed the motor in the first round, we think we figured out our pushrod problem, then the spare motor dropped a valve. It's not a tune-up problem that is causing it, its just a matter of figuring out why it wants to eat up pushrods. I think we have that problem fixed because it didn't mess any up on the last run, it just dropped a valve. It just wasn't our weekend. What really hurts is I feel like we had the car to win this race if it wasn't for our engine problems. Stark only ran a 5.70 against us, and then Gunderson won the race with a 5.79. That's drag racing though."

Despite losing in the semifinals, Callaway did leave the track with the Division 4 points lead after one race. Callaway is quick to point out, however, that it is way to early to take that to the bank.

"The points lead doesn't mean anything at this point in the season, especially since it's only one round," commented Callaway. "We had a bad weekend, but we're not going to let this get us down. I got a great team behind me, and the hustle they showed in changing that engine in between rounds showed it. Ora is starting to get a handle on what the car wants, it just has to make a run from point a to b without having valvetrain problems. We're back at home now, we'll lick our wounds, freshen everything back up, and be back after them at the next race."

Callaway's next event will be at his home track, Houston Raceway Park for the O'Reilly Spring Nationals, April 11-14. Stay tuned to InsideTopAlcohol for the latest news in alcohol racing.

For more information on Chuck Haase Racecars, visit his site at HaaseEnterprises.com.

-chr-

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Series NHRA