Seattle: McClenathan back on track

The last year has been a devilish reminder of just how quick drivers can go from being heavy title favorites to middle-of-the-pack contenders. MBNA dragster driver Cory McClenathan knows that story all too well. For four seasons in the '90s,...

The last year has been a devilish reminder of just how quick drivers can go from being heavy title favorites to middle-of-the-pack contenders.

MBNA dragster driver Cory McClenathan knows that story all too well. For four seasons in the '90s, McClenathan chased championship dreams into NHRA's season-ending event in Pomona, Calif. In each failed attempt to win a championship, it was a tough lesson learned.

Not nearly as tough, however, as the lesson learned during the last year. McClenathan, from Anaheim, Calif., finished a disappointing ninth in the Top Fuel order in '99. He currently sits sixth overall in the 2000 standings. "You can go from champ to chump in a weekend," McClenathan said. "The one thing about drag racing is that you don't see a lot of drivers or crew chiefs with big egos because it's an up-and-down situation. This season has been a learning experience, that's for sure."

The driver of former NFL coach Joe Gibbs' dragster claimed an emotional victory - albeit not a Winston points victory - at the Winston Showdown during the first weekend in July. The $200,000 all-star event win was key for turning the momentum of the MBNA dragster team, headed by crew chief Wes Cerny.

While his championship fortunes look bleak for this season, McClenathan isn't giving up. He has a strong record at tracks like Seattle, Sonoma, Calif., Brainerd, Minn. and Indianapolis. If nothing else, he'd like to have a strong finish to get ready for the championship hunt in 2001. "I'd say we're pretty much out of the championship running," he said. "But if we can get the car running good, I can make it pretty miserable for a lot of guys out there. That's kind of what I intend to do. Anything can happen. If we get on a roll and the car runs consistently and the driver does his job, we can keep it going. We're going to be trying our hearts out. It's just that sitting back in sixth place and looking at how far everybody is ahead of us, it's going to be tough. But we'll do the best we can and won't give up."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Cory McClenathan