Phoenix - Opening Day agrees with Team Pennzoil

Opening Day agrees with Team Pennzoil PHOENIX (Feb. 26) -- The first day of the 15th Annual Checker Schucks Kragen Nationals presented by Pennzoil was a hot one both on the track and in the stands of Firebird International Raceway. Clear skies...

Opening Day agrees with Team Pennzoil

PHOENIX (Feb. 26) -- The first day of the 15th Annual Checker Schucks Kragen Nationals presented by Pennzoil was a hot one both on the track and in the stands of Firebird International Raceway. Clear skies and temperatures in the 80s loosened the track and slowed most of the teams. But Team Pennzoil managed to overcome the heat and keep the Pennzoil brand solidly in the battle for the event's title.

The following synopsis encapsulates Team Pennzoil's first day of racing.

Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, blistered the track with an opening round lap of 4.639 seconds at 304.53 mph. He followed that trip with an aborted tire-smoking lap in Round 2. Hill's opening round time put the affable Texan in the No. 4 spot with two rounds of qualifying remaining.

"We were trying to test the limits of the track in the second session and ended up overpowering her a little bit," Hill said. "That's the advantage of having such a solid opening lap -- you're able to try some things out that might make you go quicker. The car is running really well right now and we are super excited about this weekend. We've got two more chances to prepare for Sunday and we plan on making the most of them."

Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, shaved two-thousandths of a second off of his opening pass when he tripped the timers in 7.012 seconds at 197.25 mph during Round 2. Thomas finishes the day in the ninth spot.

"We're still tuning this thing," Thomas said. "But overall that was a pretty good run. We picked up a little in the second session, which was really good because most of the other cars were four or five hundredths of a second slower due to the heat. Still we had a bit too much clutch and we also might have detected a small vacuum leak. By morning, the Pennzoil crew will have this car ready to rock."

Bruce Allen, the driver of The Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, spun his tires at the starting line during the afternoon session and failed to improve on his first round pass of 7.045-second lap at 195.22 mph. The slower session allowed Allen to fall out of the 16-car field of qualified drivers into the 18th position.

"I didn't compensate enough for the track conditions," Allen said. "It was very hot and there were quite a few areas where the track was bald and we weren't quite ready for it. Although the elapsed time doesn't show it, most of the second run was better than the first one. Put it this way, we're a lot closer to where we need to be then we were this morning. I think we'll be able to make a big move up in the field tomorrow."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Bruce Allen