Seattle: Cory McClenathan Saturday summary

McClenathan ends qualifying No. 9 NHRA decision cost Carrier Boyz Racing a needed qualifying round KENT, Wash. (July 23, 2005) -- After losing one qualifying round on Friday evening due to a decision by NHRA, Cory McClenathan qualified...

McClenathan ends qualifying No. 9 NHRA decision cost Carrier Boyz Racing a needed qualifying round

KENT, Wash. (July 23, 2005) -- After losing one qualifying round on Friday evening due to a decision by NHRA, Cory McClenathan qualified the Carrier Boyz Racing FRAM AirHog Top Fuel dragster in the No. 9 position for the 18th annual NHRA CARQUEST Auto Parts Nationals at Pacific Raceways, near Seattle.

After McClenathan ran a 4.656-second pass in the opening round, controversy arose during the second qualifying session for Top Fuel cars late last evening. Facing a curfew, NHRA decided to run the Top Fuel cars. An oil down late in the session ended those plans as NHRA cancelled the several pairs that remained in the staging lanes. Cory Mac shares his thoughts, as he was one of the drivers that were caught in the cancellation.

"Personally speaking, if you're going to run one car in a class you should have to run them all for that session to count," said McClenathan, as he revisited the subject this morning. "That said, and trying to be politically correct, we have seen this problem here in Seattle before because this facility does not have the correct lighting to run when it gets dark -- especially the fuel cars. We faced that problem, along with a curfew problem last night."

"NHRA made a decision to run over the curfew and extend qualifying to approximately 10 o'clock. At about 20 minutes to 10, there was a huge oil down. It was predicted that it would take 15 to 20 minutes to clean the track and get it in race condition. So (Senior Vice President -- Racing Operations) Graham Light made the decision to pull the plug on the show, even though we understood prior to the start of the round that all cars would have the opportunity to run."

"They (NHRA) should consult with us if it's a safety issue or if they feel we'll be in jeopardy. I can tell you, I'm darn sure not going to be taking any chances that would endanger me or somebody else's life. I think we should have had the opportunity to run. Although not the best light, it was lit well enough that we could have run. Or as an alternative plan, with NHRA's blessing, we could have all made a single pass in the lane that wasn't oiled down."

"On the common sense side of things, if I was NHRA and you're going to run into a curfew problem, don't start the session or simply readjust the program to accommodate the curfew. Also, again if I was NHRA, I would have had portable track lights sitting in ready, known lighting had been a problem in the past. We learn from our mistakes as humans, one would think NHRA as a company would learn from their mistakes, especially here at Seattle."

"We know that Friday night usually presents the most optimum conditions of the weekend, especially during the summer months, and the teams try to take advantage of both the track and weather conditions. Other cars were allowed to take advantage of the conditions last night, but a few of us were denied that opportunity. As a result the FRAM AirHog dragster fell from fourth to 10th and didn't have a darn thing to say about it. I think that's wrong, it's unfair and it shouldn't have gone that way."

In today's noon session, McClenathan improved his elapsed time to 4.598 seconds but only improved one qualifying position, going from 10th to ninth. In the final qualifying session, the FRAM Air Hog dragster slipped the tires down track and didn't improve.

McClenathan will opening tomorrow's eliminations running Brandon Bernstein, who qualified No. 8 with a run of 4.570 seconds at 321.35 mph.

"Not having that run last night has put us with a bad draw for tomorrow's eliminations," said McClenathan after qualifying ended. "We don't know for sure what we would have run, but we sure would have liked the opportunity to find out. We might have found ourselves higher that ninth. Now we have to run Brandon Bernstein and that puts us in a position were Todd (Smith, crew chief) will have to step it up in the first round tomorrow just to try and give us an opportunity to win."

"I have to thank the guys on this Carrier Boyz Racing team; they have given it their all throughout this entire weekend. The car has been ready to run all four qualifying sessions."

McClenathan has had success at the Seattle track, having gone to the final round four times and winning one. He defeated Scott Kalitta here in 1998 and was runner up to Tommy Johnson, Jr. in 1993 and Ron Capps in 1995 -- back when both drivers drove Top Fuel dragsters. He also was runner up to Joe Amato in 1998.

Entering this event, McClenathan is currently No. 9 in the NHRA POWERade Top Fuel point standings. He now has accumulated 654 points and is 14 points behind Doug Herbert in eighth, 22 behind Scott Kalitta in seventh and 94 behind Brandon Bernstein in sixth. He needs to make up 172 points to move into the No. 5 spot. The Carrier Boyz Racing team has a goal to finish in the top five this season.

ELIMINATIONS: McClenathan begins his quest for the Top Fuel title on Sunday with eliminations for all classes getting underway at 11 a.m. Time is local Seattle time -- Pacific Time (PT): 3 hours behind the Eastern Time zone -- and subject to change at anytime.

TELEVISION: Qualifying highlights for the 18th annual NHRA CARQUEST Auto Parts Nationals can be seen on ESPN HD on tonight (July 23) from 8-10 p.m. The qualifying show repeats on ESPN2 HD early Sunday morning (July 24) from 3-5 a.m. ESPN2 HD will also air three hours of same-day television coverage of eliminations beginning at 9 p.m. on Sunday evening (July 24). The elimination show repeats on ESPN2 HD early Monday morning, July 25, from 3 until 4:30 a.m. Also, tune in to NHRA2Day on ESPN2 HD, the weekly show that gives you the latest information about the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. NHRA2Day can be seen on Sunday, July 24 at 11:30 a.m. Television times are Eastern Time (ET) and subject to change at anytime. Check local listings.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Ron Capps , Joe Amato , Tommy Johnson , Cory McClenathan , Scott Kalitta , Brandon Bernstein , Cory Mac