MCLENATHAN ENDS 2009 NHRA SEASON IN FOURTH POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 15, 2009) - Cory McClenathan completed the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series fourth in the Top Fuel point standings, after reaching the quarterfinal round at the 45th...
MCLENATHAN ENDS 2009 NHRA SEASON IN FOURTH
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 15, 2009) - Cory McClenathan completed the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series fourth in the Top Fuel point standings, after reaching the quarterfinal round at the 45th annual NHRA Finals today.
With an opportunity, albeit slim, to actually win his first Top Fuel championship, McClenathan, driving the FRAM Tough Guard Top Fuel dragster, embarked on his mission to both help and hinder his teammate Tony Schumacher in his quest to win his seventh Top Fuel world championship.
Entering the opening round with a 61-point deficit to leader Schumacher, McClenathan dismissed Bob Vandergriff Jr. with a fire-throwing 4.437/178.00 pass, then met up with No. 2 in points Larry Dixon in the quarterfinal. With a chance to dismiss his and his teammate's rival, McClenathan made a near-perfect run of 3.829 seconds at 320.51 mph launching with a stellar .062 reaction time (.000 is perfect).
Unfortunately, Dixon nipped him at the finish line by a mere eight inches (.0014 of a second) to take the victory with a slower but winning 3.842/315.42 pass.
"It was a good race, all the way around," said McClenathan, who was officially eliminated from championship contention when Schumacher won the second round. "But, to get beat on a holeshot somebody has to be held accountable for it and unfortunately it was me.
"The pressure was huge. I could have taken out Dixon and made Tony's life a lot easier. I was just thinking, get in there, cut a good light and I did that. Unfortunately, he cut a better light; that's all there was to it."
As it turned out, after both Schumacher and Dixon advanced to the semifinals and Dixon lost first, Schumacher was named the champion by a margin of two points. Schumacher also lost in the semis, but it was a victory he didn't need to claim.
The new member of Don Schumacher Racing in the Top Fuel class, Antron Brown, went on to win the event, moving ahead of McClenathan in the point standings into third.
"The championship could have been laid on my shoulders, but Tony came through, and I am ecstatic about that," added McClenathan. "Congratulations to a great team."
How did "Cory Mac" wrap up the 2009 season? "I think most everyone underestimated us a little bit right from the beginning," he said. "I think we had a great season and the FRAM Tough Guard guys did a great job. I'm really proud of (crew chiefs) Todd (Okuhara) and Phil (Shuler) and all the FRAM guys. I look forward to next year.
"As far as I'm concerned, and as far as I know, we're not changing anything for next year. For a first-year team, I think we did pretty good."