Outlaw's Title Hopes Slip Away in Quarterfinals PHOENIX (Feb. 28) -- A beautiful race day in the desert came to an abrupt end for Team Pennzoil when their pool of drivers competing for the championship of the 15th Annual Checker Schucks Kragen...
Outlaw's Title Hopes Slip Away in Quarterfinals
PHOENIX (Feb. 28) -- A beautiful race day in the desert came to an abrupt end for Team Pennzoil when their pool of drivers competing for the championship of the 15th Annual Checker Schucks Kragen Nationals dried up in the quarterfinal round.
Bruce Allen, the pilot of The Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, found the most success on this weekend. Allen reached the second round of eliminations by beating teammate Mike Thomas in the opening session. It was the Outlaw crew's first elimination round win of the young season.
In the quarterfinals, Allen matched up against Jeg Coughlin and found himself at the mercy of Coughlin's lane-choice advantage. Coughlin had garnered the privilege of lane choice by recording a better elapsed time during his first round race (6.970 seconds to Allen's 7.031-second pass.) Due to sub-par conditions on one side of the track, lane choice ultimately proved to be the difference in the race.
"Just before we ran the (Nitro) fuel cars just destroyed the left side of the track," Outlaw crew chief Dave Reher said. "So many of them blew (their engines) up on that side and there was oil all over the place. I know that's not a popular complaint to make with the NHRA, but it just cost us a chance at winning a round. All you have to do is look at the results. No one won on that side including Warren Johnson."
After nearly identical starts, Allen had moved ahead of Coughlin at the 60-foot mark. But soon thereafter Allen drove through some oil and began to spin his tires furiously, forcing him to shut his car off and allowing Coughlin to drive away for the easy win.
"I know I said before the round that lane choice wasn't important," Allen said. "And this morning, it wasn't. But on this occasion lane choice meant everything. There was nothing I could do and I knew it before we ever left the starting line. There is no adjustment you can make to the car for oil on the track. You just hope you don't wreck your car.
"We did get a lot accomplished this weekend. We found out a lot about this car and we know what needs to be done to make it better back at the shop. We will have our new car in Gainesville and hopefully we'll be able to run it. Either way, it's really nice to know that the back-up car can compete and win some rounds."