Seattle Friday Pennzoil Notes

KENT, Wash. (July 30) -- Friday's opening round of professional qualifying for the 12th Annual Prolong Northwest Nationals began what promises to be an exciting weekend of drag racing at Seattle International Raceway. The reason for the optimism...

KENT, Wash. (July 30) -- Friday's opening round of professional qualifying for the 12th Annual Prolong Northwest Nationals began what promises to be an exciting weekend of drag racing at Seattle International Raceway. The reason for the optimism is due to the fact that many drivers, including the two Pro Stock entries from the Pennzoil stable, recorded solid qualifying laps during a session in which most teams were merely trying to get a feel for the track.

Here's an in-depth look at each Pennzoil driver's opening lap.

Bruce Allen, the driver of The Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac, easily kept pace with the extremely competitive field with an opening-round pass of 6.956 seconds at 197.91 mph. (The slowest time of the session for the top 16 cars was a 7.000-second lap.) Allen's mark placed the Texan in the ninth position with three rounds of qualifying left to be run.

"This was a very good starting point for us," Allen said. "To be honest, I'm a little surprised that we didn't run quicker than that. The tires did shake a little and I guess that slowed us enough that we didn't run a real eye-opening lap. To start like this is very encouraging, especially when you consider that we'll be in the quicker lane tonight when cooler weather should help us go a lot quicker. I'm starting to have fun again in this Outlaw car."

Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, finished Round 1 just behind his Pennzoil teammate Allen in the No. 10 spot on the qualifying ladder. Thomas tripped the timers in 6.966 seconds at 196.99 mph.

"All in all, that was a nice tune-up run," Thomas said. "At least we know have a handle on the car in relation to this track. I know we need more clutch and there is also something preventing us from recording a big speed number. We'll search around, find the problem and be ready to fly tonight. Like Bruce, we'll be in the right lane and that should help our time out."

Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, failed to complete his opening lap when his car's oil filter malfunctioned during his pre-race burnout. The problem caused a huge oil-down on the launching pad that delayed action for several minutes.

"We've been at this a long time and I've never seen this happen before," crew chief Al Weiss said. "The motor just completely blew the oil filter apart during the burnout. It's something we've never worried about before, but we will now.

"It's embarrassing to start like this," Hill said. "The good news is that it happened now and not on Sunday when it could have cost us a win. We'll get her fixed and be ready to go tonight."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Bruce Allen