Pennzoil's Eddie Hill takes top spot in Phoenix Trials

Pennzoil's Hill takes top spot in Phoenix PHOENIX (Jan. 24) -- Drag racing legend Eddie "The Thrill" Hill fired the first attention-getting salvo of the National Hot Rod Association's preseason Saturday evening by placing his brand-new Pennzoil...

Pennzoil's Hill takes top spot in Phoenix

PHOENIX (Jan. 24) -- Drag racing legend Eddie "The Thrill" Hill fired the first attention-getting salvo of the National Hot Rod Association's preseason Saturday evening by placing his brand-new Pennzoil / Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster on top of the Hot Rod Magazine's PRO National Time Trials field at Firebird International Raceway. The 62-year-old Texan garnered the No. 1 spot with an impressive 4.632-second quarter-mile pass at 297.55 mph.

"I just don't see how this test session could have gone any better," an elated Hill said. "Everything is working even better than we expected and the results are very, very encouraging. I love the time we ran. I actually could have gone a fraction quicker but I shut her down just before the finish line.

"Then I get the time slip and I see that our 60-foot time was a 0.827. I couldn't believe it. That has to be the quickest 60-foot time ever recorded. The NHRA doesn't keep track of incremental times, but I do know that it's the quickest 60-foot mark I've ever seen. Considering that one of the main things we wanted to work on at this test was our launches, we are even more thrilled by that 60-foot time than we are at being the No. 1 qualifier. But, there is nothing wrong with being No. 1 either."

Hill completed six successful runs during the test session and, despite establishing himself as the man to beat, has elected not to take part in Sunday's scheduled elimination rounds. "I don't know what else we could gain by staying," Hill said. "We've already gathered all the data that we need and we're happy with where we're at. So we're heading home to get ready for the season-opener in Pomona, (Calif., on Feb. 4.)"

Joining Hill in Phoenix and for the duration of the 1999 season are new crew personnel Alfred Weiss, Steve Boggs, John Maddox, Kenny Casey and Randy McMahon. Weiss, who has worked on Hill's heads and blocks for several years, will assume the position of crew foreman and will assist Hill with his crew chief duties. Boggs moves from Jim Head's crew to Team Texan as the clutch specialist. Engine builder Maddox exits back-to-back NHRA champion Gary Scelzi's crew to take over Hill's cylinder heads and right-side engine duties. Casey will be in charge of tires, wings and safety equipment and McMahon will oversee all computer operations.

"I believe we've assembled the best crew I've ever had and so far they're proving me right," Hill said. "I know one thing for sure, this is one dedicated bunch of professionals. We all want a championship and we will all do whatever it takes to win one. I sure do like the head start we got this weekend here in Phoenix."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Gary Scelzi