Outlawâ€™s efforts lead Pennzoilâ€™s charge in Seattle SEATTLE â€“ Team Pennzoil finished the National Hot Rod Associationâ€™s West Coast swing with another successful weekend of professional drag racing. After carding several solid qualifying...
Outlaw’s efforts lead Pennzoil’s charge in Seattle
SEATTLE – Team Pennzoil finished the National Hot Rod Association’s West Coast swing with another successful weekend of professional drag racing. After carding several solid qualifying runs, all of the Pennzoil-sponsored machines had earned their way into Sunday’s elimination round action where Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock driver Bruce Allen made the biggest charge for a share of the Prolong Super Lubricants Nationals title. By the close of the weekend, Allen had notched another quarterfinal appearance while teammates Mike Thomas and Eddie Hill were able to maintain their position in the all important Winston points championship chase.
Bruce Allen, the driver of the Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac, dismissed the current No. 2 driver in his class in Round 1 before falling to the third best car overall in the quarter-finals. Allen beat Jeg Coughlin, 7.011 seconds to 9.605 seconds, in his first pass of the day before losing to Kurt Johnson, 7.049 seconds to 7.002 seconds, in Round 2. Allen has now won nine elimination round races in 1998.
“I sure would have liked to continue racing today,” Allen said. “We just haven’t quite been fast enough to consistently beat the top guys and Kurt’s one of them. We changed the rear-end suspension set-up in between rounds to see if we could get the car hooked up better in third and fourth gear. It seemed to work. We still spun a little in low gear and I’d like to test the car somewhere to smooth everything out before we get to Brainerd. Overall, this was a pretty successful weekend for us and we appear to moving in the right direction. We’ll continue to work on making this car faster.”
Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, ran an identical elapsed time - 6.973 seconds - as his competitor, Mike Edwards, but lost on a slower reaction time, 0.491 seconds to 0.458 seconds. It was a disappointing end to a race weekend that saw Thomas card the second quickest time of the Pro Stock class.
“The hole-shot (reaction time advantage) doesn’t matter,” Thomas said. “I should have and could have run a 6.92 at least. But I just overestimated the track and ended up spinning the tires like crazy at the starting line. I didn’t think I’d ever get through first gear. The track is just way too hot and it wouldn’t hold. We were okay down track, but the starting line was loose. I’m ready to go home and forget about this. This absolutely stinks. We sure wanted to do a lot more during this West Coast swing. Now, we’ve cut our margin-of-error room down a bunch for the rest of the year.”
Thomas remained in the No. 5 position of the yearlong Winston points standings. He has won 12 elimination round races in 1998 and has capture one national event title. Thomas has qualified for 13 of 14 NHRA national events so far this season.
Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, missed a golden opportunity to beat the current Winston points leader in Round 1 when Hill smoked his tires at the starting line. His opponent, Cory McClenthan, started strong but eventually blew his motor just past the halfway point of the quarter-mile strip. He limped across the finish line in a beatable 4.988 seconds at 218.23 mph. Unfortunately, Hill was unable to recover from his loss of traction on the launching pad and he was forced to shut his motor down at the 330-foot mark. Hill officially ran a 9.958-second lap at 72.45 mph.
“That certainly wasn’t what we were looking for,” Hill said. “He was vulnerable and we had a great shot at beating him. We should have been better on our tune-up. We used the same set-up as yesterday when we ran well but smoked the tires at the long end. All we did was address the down-track smoke problem. We thought we’d be okay. But I puffed the tires right at the line and then they completely let go shortly after that. The track didn’t hold the same amount of power as it did yesterday. That’s strange because the track is usually in the best shape of the weekend during Sunday’s first round. We’ll just have to put this behind us and move on. It’s discouraging but I’m sure we’ll be okay by the time we get to Brainerd.”
Hill has qualified for all 14 races in 1998 and has recorded seven elimination round wins. He is currently in 11th place in the overall Winston points standings and fifth place in the Big Bud Shootout points rankings for top qualifiers.
Mike Ferderer, the sportsman-class driver of the Gumout Super Comp Dragster and the Pennzoil Super Gas Pontiac, gained some more valuable points in his chase for a fourth world championship.
Ferderer has reached the fourth round of elimination racing in his Super Comp machine. Along the way, Ferderer used a perfect run to beat the world’s ninth-ranked driver in Round 2. “I nailed an absolute perfect run (8.900 seconds) down to the thousandths of a second,” Ferderer said. “And he broke-out (ran under index) by two-hundredths. So we’re still rocking and rolling. Hopefully our luck will continue for a few more rounds.” Ferderer is scheduled to face Tori Lea in the quarterfinals.
In Super Gas, Ferderer ran into Mike Blodgett’s perfect 9.90-second run in the second round and lost by two-hundredths of a second. “When you hit a guy that puts up a run like that, you just have to say that it wasn’t your turn,” Ferderer said. “My car ran very well all weekend. He just flat-out beat us.”