Consistency and points key to McClenathan at Maple Grove. MOHNTON, Pa. -- Today, Cory McClenathan, driver of the Henkelman & Baca Motorsports Centennial Batteries Top Fuel Dragster, begins his quest for the Top Fuel title at the 18th annual...
Consistency and points key to McClenathan at Maple Grove.
MOHNTON, Pa. -- Today, Cory McClenathan, driver of the Henkelman & Baca Motorsports Centennial Batteries Top Fuel Dragster, begins his quest for the Top Fuel title at the 18th annual NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, but the California driver is still smarting from his setback at Indy. "Bittersweet" was the operative word for McClenathan at the recently completed Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park over Labor Day weekend.
Claiming his first number one qualifying position of the 2002 season at the biggest, most prestigious event of the year had McClenathan elated. But one day later, during eliminations the veteran driver stumbled in the quarterfinals losing to Tony Schumacher, eventually swapping places with Schumacher in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series point standings. Schumacher moved into third, while McClenathan dropped to fourth.
"We were in a good position to pull away from Tony (Schumacher) in the POWERade points battle," recalled McClenathan. "After grabbing our first #1 of the season, we had problems in eliminations. I think a clutch malfunctions stopped us from being able to continue on at Indy. This prevented us from pulling away from Tony in points. It's just one of those things where he got his car down the track better than I did by pedaling it. The only thing we can do now is to learn from it.
"Here at Maple Grove we still need to go out and qualify well and go rounds on Sunday. We still must be consistence and do it our way -- go from 'A' to 'B' without making mistakes. If we can get to the semifinals the points will fall into place."
In the point standings, McClenathan has 1044 points which places him fourth. He is just 22 points behind Schumacher. Then there is a big gap with McClenathan needing 366 points to overtake Kenny Bernstein in second and 469 points to claim the top spot from Larry Dixon.
"(Kenny) Bernstein and especially (Larry) Dixon are out of reach in the points. We need to solidify points and try to get back into third and pull away from Tony (Schumacher) and Darrell Russell and the others that are right behind us. Right now our immediate goal is to get back into third. After we do, we need to hold onto it and at least finish the season in the top three. Hopefully, that would make people stand up and take notice of this Henkelman and Baca Motorsports team. What Rick Henkelman, David Baca, Wes Cerny and crew have accomplished this year is nothing short of spectacular," added McClenathan.
McClenathan is no stranger to the quarter-mile at Maple Grove Raceway. He won the event there in 1997 and reached the semifinals three other times. In 10 previous qualifying attempts, McClenathan has qualified in the top half of the field eight times.
"For the most part we've always done good at Maple Grove. We've won. We've set records. Maple Grove is one of those tracks where, if conditions are right, you see awesome numbers. It's a lot easier going into a track that you consistently do well at and Maple Grove is one of those. We're just going to go out there and try to out qualify everybody, run good and maybe we can win our first race of the year for this Henkelman and Baca team," concluded McClenathan.