Reading Team Pennzoil Third Round Notes

Team Pennzoil stays alive through third round READING, Pa. -- The professional drag racers of the National Hot Rod Association had their prayers answered Saturday morning when thick cloud cover produced ideal racing conditions at Maple Grove ...

Team Pennzoil stays alive through third round

READING, Pa. -- The professional drag racers of the National Hot Rod Association had their prayers answered Saturday morning when thick cloud cover produced ideal racing conditions at Maple Grove Raceway. The limited sunshine and cool temperatures allowed several drivers to use the third round of qualifying to improve their position in the various 16-car fields of the 14th annual Pioneer Keystone Nationals. Team Pennzoil couldn't take advantage of the favorable setting, however, as each car encountered some sort of problem during its third round lap.

The following recap provides some insight into the Pennzoil pits through three rounds.

Eddie Hill, the Top Fuel pilot of the Pennzoil Dragster, blasted down the track in 4.650 seconds at 302.52 mph in a daredevil-like third round pass. During the run, the right-side end plate of Hill's rear wing broke off, severely upsetting the aerodynamics of the car. The Nuclear Banana steered toward the centerline at the long end of the track but Hill managed to maintain control and brought the car to a safe stop.

"I had to do a lot of driving in the last couple of hundred feet," said Hill. "The altered down-force threw the balance completely off. The left rear tire was really getting pushed down and it was grabbing like it's supposed to while the right tire started lifting. All that action pushed me to the right and I almost had to shut her down. I was all over the place. It was like riding a dart without the feathers."

Hill's opening session pass of 4.639 seconds at 298.50 mph is still his best of the weekend and leaves him in fourth place.

Mike Thomas, the Pro Stock driver of the Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird, suffered a fuel pump problem at the starting line Saturday morning and had to completely abort his run. Thomas' best pass of the event is the 6.999-second, 196.42-mph lap he recorded on Friday night. He is currently qualified in the No. 14 position.

"Mark this one down as driver error," Thomas said. "The carburetor was flooded and I shut off the fuel pump and started the car a few times to clear the carbs. Then it was my turn to go and I did the burnout and forgot to turn the fuel pump back on. It cost us a chance at a good run. Unfortunately, stuff like this happens from time to time.

"Now we're going to be pushing it because there are several cars behind us that can easily bump us out. I really hope that the conditions stay just like they are so that we can jump up the ladder this afternoon. We better be ready to go."

Bruce Allen, the Pro Stock driver of the Outlaw Fuel Additives Pontiac Firebird, continued his frustrating search for traction in Round 3 as he once again drifted out of the groove at mid-track and spun his tires. Allen finished the session with an 8.557-second time, which was well off the 7.049-second, 195.35-mph lap he carded on Friday evening. He remains outside the 16-car group that will race for the title on Sunday in the 26th spot.

"The car went left and got out of the groove," Allen said. "But believe it or not, we had a big improvement there. Our short times were awesome and I believe that we have the car set-up properly now. We just need to adjust for going straight and we'll be good to go. I'm expecting similar track and air temperatures in Round 4 so we have a good chance to make the field. We've got nothing to lose. It's time to just go for it and see what happens."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Bruce Allen