Seattle Team Pennzoil Friday report

Pennzoil team has strong opening day SEATTLE -- Rumors of a suspect track quickly gave way to excited conversation about the exceptionally fast times being posted during Friday's two rounds of professional qualifying for the 11th Annual Prolong...

Pennzoil team has strong opening day

SEATTLE -- Rumors of a suspect track quickly gave way to excited conversation about the exceptionally fast times being posted during Friday's two rounds of professional qualifying for the 11th Annual Prolong Super Lubricants Nationals at Seattle International Raceway. The Pennzoil stable of drivers certainly enjoyed their day at the track. Pro Stock upstart Mike Thomas ran the quickest time of the evening session and is breathing down the neck of the current Winston points leader. Top Fuel legend Eddie Hill continued his season-long streak of solid qualifying sessions, finishing the day in the No. 11 spot. Bruce Allen appears to have overcome his tire problems of a week ago. And sportsman Mike Ferderer has two Pennzoil cars comfortably qualified for Saturday's sportsman-class elimination racing.

Here's a brief recap of Friday's qualifying action in Seattle.

Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, awed the crowd when he blasted down the quarter-mile strip with the quickest time of Round 2, a 6.944-second, 197.49-mph pass. The incredible time left Thomas in the No. 2 qualifying position, just four-thousandths of a second behind Day 1 leader Warren Johnson.

"Bad to the bone, baby, bad to the bone," an excited Thomas said as he climbed from his car. "If I had revved it up a little bit more we'd be No. 1 right now. We got our race engine back and it's obviously very, very strong. This is the same engine that we were running when I won in Chicago and it feels every bit as strong as it did there. I think it was getting a little bit tired before it blew in Denver. But now that it's been completely freshened, it seems like it's even stronger then before. My crew did a great job of putting it in and getting it dialed-in just right between rounds. It takes a team effort to win and we got that today."

Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, posted a 4.866-second, 288.09-mph pass in Friday's opening session to put the Nuclear Banana in the No. 11 position. Hill failed to improve on his early time in the evening round when he smoked the tires off of the starting line.

"I was very surprised to feel the tires let go," Hill said. "We weren't expecting that at all. I don't think I got more than one tire revolution before they started spinning. We tried to step-up our 60-foot time with a clutch correction and just pushed it a bit too far. We just gave the track more than it could hold. Obviously, you hate to do that in the Friday night session but if the weathermen are correct and the cloudy forecasts stay true, then we should be in a good position to move up to where we're used to being. The engine's in great shape and everything looks exactly the way we like for it to look. We'll be fine"

-more- News from the Pennzoil pits continued...

Bruce Allen, the driver of the Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac, improved on his opening round time of 7.063 seconds when he posted an evening pass of 7.022 seconds at 195.56 mph. Still, the Outlaw machine has yet to qualify in the 16-car elimination group due to the ultra-quick times posted by the sub-seven second field. Allen is currently in 21st place, three-hundredths of a second out of contention.

"The car got out of the groove, hit the loose stuff and got crooked," crew chief Dave Reher said. "If we had gone straight we'd definitely have qualified tonight. We're making progress and that's always a good thing. If the conditions are the same tomorrow as they were today, then we should have no problem making the field. The car's finally running well."

Mike Ferderer, the sportsman-class driver of the Pennzoil Super Gas Pontiac and the Gumout Super Comp Dragster, has qualified both of his machines for Saturday's sportsman rounds of eliminations. Ferderer's best time's of the day were 9.88 seconds in Super Gas and 8.869 seconds in Super Comp.

"I really like the way the door car (Super Gas Pontiac) ran today," Ferderer said. "It was as close to perfect as it can get. The (Super Comp) dragster was all over the place because of the bumps in the track, but I'm still pretty pleased with how it ran. The track is tolerable enough and I'll be ready to go in the morning when eliminations start. We'll just throw them out there and see what happens. I think we'll be fine. I'm right where I want to be."

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Mike Thomas , Warren Johnson , Bruce Allen