Richmond Pontiac Race Results

McCLENATHAN REPEATS AT THE PENNZOIL NATIONALS DINWIDDIE, Va. (May 3, 1999) Rain washed out the completion of final eliminations for the Fifth Annual Pennzoil Nationals on Sunday, but when the racers returned to finish the job today,...

McCLENATHAN REPEATS AT THE PENNZOIL NATIONALS

DINWIDDIE, Va. (May 3, 1999) Rain washed out the completion of final eliminations for the Fifth Annual Pennzoil Nationals on Sunday, but when the racers returned to finish the job today, MBNA/Pontiac Top Fuel driver Cory McClenathan was the last fighter standing. McClenathan defeated Larry Dixon in the final round of eliminations to win his first race of the year and his second consecutive victory at Virginia Motorsports Park. It's the third time since the NHRA began competition here in 1995 that he's mastered the Central Virginia quarter-mile strip. "It's just one of those deals where I feel good about coming to a race where we've won before," said McClenathan. "We won last year and this is two years in- a-row for us. With that one and the inagural race that makes three. But anytime you come into a race where you have good records, you've won lot of rounds and you've won the race, you're going to feel more comfortable - and I was. Being stuck in that left lane where we hadn't run all day, I was being more carfeul as far as staging and that type of stuff. "Last night was an advantage because when I went to bed I got a good night's sleep. Everybody else had to come in here, and make a pass this morning and we got to watch. That gave us some more time. The disadvantage came when they got to make a pass on the track today and we didn't. So we weren't sure how to set the car up for that semi-final contest. Really to us, it made a big difference being able to come in today and not having to win that second round. We had done that already and that was one less thing to worry about." Today's win was the 23rd career victory in 35 final round appearances for McClenathan, and his first visit to the winner's circle since the Parts America Nationals last October in Topeka, Kan. He is third on the NHRA's all-time list for career victories by a Top Fuel driver behind Joe Amato (46) and Don Garlits (35). McClenathan came into final eliminations qualified in the No. 2 position. He defeated Randy Parks in round one, Doug Kalitta in round two and Mike Dunn in round three before squaring off against Dixon in the finals. His performance numbers were 4.715ET/313.73MPH; 4.624ET/ 285.05MPH; and 4.710ET/294.69 MPH. Even though Dixon carried lane choice into the championship round, McClenathan grabbed the advantage immediately with his MBNA/Pontiac dragster gripping the track surface as soon as the starting light flashed green. He rocketed out in front of Dixon and never looked back running 4.684 seconds at 310.05 mph to Dixon's 5.383 seconds at 223.99 mph. "The NHRA and Safety Safari did a great job coming in here this morning and getting the track back in shape," McClenathan said. "They were really able to bring that left lane around and it contributed to some great side-by-side racing. We thought we were at a small disadvantage going into the final because Larry Dixon's car had been running so well. They did have the right lane through lane choice, but it was sure nice to prove everyone wrong by winning in that left lane. "We would have liked to have run faster and quicker than what we did, but the MBNA/Pontiac locked up immediately off the pad, it didn't smoke the tires and when I got to half track I thought we actually had a chance to win this race if we didn't spin the tires--and we didn't. We ran 310 mph and that was pretty good in the left hand lane. Yesterday was different. That lane was real tricky and today it came around. The weather and cloud cover came in for us as well and we needed that to win. It's one of those deals when you know you're racing a good car, Larry's a good driver, and with Armstrong (Dale) tuning it you never know what's going to happen." After six races, McClenathan catapults up the Top Fuel points standings into fourth place with 399 points. Mike Dunn is in first place with 475 points, Larry Dixon is second with 418, Tony Schumacher is third with 404 and Doug Herbert is fifth with 397. In Pro Stock, 20-year-old Richie Stevens advanced to his second career final round before losing to Allen Johnson. Stevens came into final eliminations qualified in the No. 3 position with a career-best elapsed time of 6.861 seconds and drove his Valspar Racing Pontiac Firebird past Greg Anderson in round one, Mike Edwards in round two and John Nobile in round three before losing to Johnson in the finals. His performance numbers were 6.912ET/198.73MPH; 6.926ET/198.03 and 6.917ET/198.61MPH. In the final round against Johnson, Stevens lost on a hole shot even though his elapsed time of 6.960 seconds at 198.20 mph was better than Johnson's 6.970 seconds at 198.17 mph. "The first two wins were both ugly as could be but they got us through to the next round," Stevens said. "That's all you can do - win them one race at a time. The good part was that we were able to get some good data on the car and the track so we could tune it right. It seems like the Valspar Racing Pontiac Firebird is getting closer to perfect every time we go down the track." Mike Thomas, George Marnell and Mark Pawuk lost in round two; Thomas to John Nobile, Marnell to Allen Johnson and Pawuk to Kurt Johnson. "I don't know what to say," Thomas said. "The Pennzoil Firebird had four perfect runs in a row and I blow with a bad light. I lined up too far right and I guess I was thinking about that too much and not focussing on the light. A slight distraction cost me a race I definitely should have won. But John (Nobile) made a nice run and beat me. "It seems like things would have been differently yesterday. We were all so fired up and I was really peaking at the right time. All in all, this was a good weekend that could have and should have been a great weekend. Getting into the 200-club was a great honor and the car and crew are in top shape. Mark my words, we will contend for every race from here on in. This Firebird is too fast for us not to be involved in the points race." Tom Martino, Jim Yates, Warren Johnson and Steve Schmidt lost in round one; Martino to Mike Edwards, Yates to Mike Thomas, Johnson to John Nobile and Schmidt to Kurt Johnson. "We felt that the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Pontiac Firebird could have run a 6.81 or a 6.82 out there today, but we just got too aggressive and the track wouldn't hold our setup," said Johnson. "That's all there is to it. I guess we should have been more conservative, but being conservative has bit us in the past, so we said to heck with it and went for it. Either it was going to be real bad or real good, and unfortunately it turned out real bad. "Even though it's the first time we haven't won here, it's like I told John Nobile - nothing's forever. It's one of those deals where nobody's going to win every race they ever go to at one particular facility. Something eventually will happen to prevent that. What you have to realize is that we had to have a lot of good luck to win those four races here. Something someday is going to go against you and that's just the way it is." Looking at the Pro Stock points standings, Kurt Johnson is in first place in a Camaro with 582, Warren Johnson is second in a Firebird with 487, Troy Coughlin is third in a Cutlass with 330, Jim Yates is fourth in a Firebird with 319 and Allen Johnson is fifth in an Avenger with 314. Richie Stevens is seventh in a Firebird with 272 and George Marnell is 10th in a Firebird with 244. In Funny Car, Cruz Pedregon's Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird advanced to the semi-final round before losing to eventual race winner John Force. Pedregon, who qualified No. 2 for this race, defeated Dean Skuza in round one and Cory Lee in round two before smoking the tires at halftrack in his race against Force. It was the fourth time this year that Pedregon had advanced to no less than the semi-final round, and the third race in-a-row that he has accomplished the feat. "I was really excited about racing today," Pedregon said. "When I woke up this morning I had a pretty good feeling that I was going to be racing Force, so I was really up for him. He's the guy that everyone needs to get around if we're going to win the championship. As a driver you have to lay it on the line and that's what we did today. If we can get the car and the driver on the same page, then this Interstate Batteries Pontiac team is going to be tough to beat. If I would have had that reaction time (.489) last week, I think we would have been standing in the winner's circle. But you win as a team and you lose as a team, and I don't plan on letting any more slip away from me for the rest of the year. "We've had a little bit of a slow start this season, but this Firebird is running pretty good right now. It doesn't matter where you start winning races whether it's at the beginning, the middle or the end of the year, but the pendulum is on the verge of swinging our way. The car's consistent, it's getting down the racetrack and Wes (Cerny) was just doing what he had to do to put John (Force) away. Aggressiveness is what wins races, and in a contest like that you don't want to leave anything on the table." Tim Wilkerson lost in round two to Tony Pedregon. Dale Creasy Jr., Del Worsham and Gary Densham lost in round one; Creasy to Jim Epler, Worsham to Phil Burkhart and Densham to Tony Pedregon. "The Checker Schuck's Kragen Firebird is running well enough to win," said Worsham. "We're running better than we ever have in my career, so much better than last year it's not even funny. It just must not be our time yet. I keep thinking we're ready to win, especially to win some more rounds than we have, but for two races now it hasn't happened. I wouldn't even call it bad luck because I don't really believe in that. "I think we're still learning how to go this fast and do it with regularity. If making progress, going faster and getting more consistent are the ingredients for a winner, then we're a winning team waiting for a chance at the Victory Circle photo session." John Force leads the Funny Car standings in a Mustang with 644 points, Tony Pedregon is second in a Mustang with 548, Cruz Pedregon is third in a Firebird with 391, Whit Bazemore is fourth in a Camaro with 353 and Dean Skuza is fifth in an Avenger with 324. Gary Densham is eighth in a Firebird with 271 and Del Worsham is ninth in a Firebird with 257. In the Sportsman categories, Allen Stanfield of Fredericksburg, Va., won in Competition Eliminator in a 1995 Trans Am, Peter Biondo of Clarksburg, N.J., won in Super Stock in a 1999 Firebird, and Chick Musacchlo of Brooklyn, N.Y., won in Super Gas in a 1977 Aster. The next event on the schedule is the 18th Annual Advanced Auto Parts Southern Nationals on May 13-16, at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga. It is the seventh race on the 22-event NHRA Winston championship tour. Same-day television coverage of final eliminations can be seen on Fox Sports on Sunday, May 16, beginning at 5 p.m. Eastern. Qualifying highlights can be seen on Speedvision on May 15 and May 16 (times to be announced).

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Mike Thomas , John Nobile , Troy Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Mike Dunn , Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Jim Epler , Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Dale Creasy Jr. , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , Don Garlits , Cory McClenathan , Tom Martino , Tim Wilkerson , Peter Biondo , George Marnell , Allen Johnson , Steve Schmidt , Cory Lee , Mike Edwards