Sonoma Pennzoil Qualifying Report

Pennzoil stable set for Sunday success SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 7) -- In what is quickly becoming the norm on Race Day, all three Pennzoil-sponsored drag racers are poised to make a charge at the title of the 12th Annual Autolite Nationals at Sears...

Pennzoil stable set for Sunday success

SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 7) -- In what is quickly becoming the norm on Race Day, all three Pennzoil-sponsored drag racers are poised to make a charge at the title of the 12th Annual Autolite Nationals at Sears Point Raceway. In fact, with all three drivers qualified in ninth place or better in their respective fields, this particular event's elimination sessions will begin with Team Pennzoil in their best collective Race Day starting position of the year.

Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, will use his Round 2 lap of 4.619 seconds at 318.09 mph to earn a berth in his 13th national event of the season. Hill will open Sunday's sudden-death action with lane choice over No. 11 qualifier Jim Head, who ran a 4.712-second lap at 304.32 mph Friday before totaling his ride in today's early session.

"How's this for irony - thanks to our crash here two years ago and the ensuing rule change, Jim will be able to compete against us," Hill said, referring to the "Eddie Hill Rule," which allows cars that are legal but have not made a pass in qualifying to compete on Race Day. "I'm truly glad that Jim is able to benefit from our misfortune. He should also take solace in the fact that after my wreck here, the very first time I ran my new car at the next race, I was the No. 1 qualifier. Still, I wouldn't trade places with him at this point."

Bruce Allen, the driver of The Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, ran a career-best top speed of 199.43 mph during a 6.948-second Round 3 lap. The time was good enough for the No. 8 position on the final ladder, making this Allen's best qualifying effort of 1999. He will open with lane choice over Pennzoil teammate Mike Thomas.

"It's funny because no matter how well you run you always want to go quicker," Allen said. "That's the case here. It's awesome that we ran a career-best speed and that we're in the top half of the field, but all that really shows me is potential. We need to run better tomorrow to capitalize on the success we've had here in qualifying. At the very least, I'm very optimistic that we now know what we need to do to win some rounds."

Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, finishes his qualifying effort in ninth place after a 6.954-second, 198.88-mph pass Saturday morning. Thomas enters Sunday needing three winning rounds of elimination racing to reach the top 10 of his bracket.

"The car appears to be running fine as far as the engine goes," Thomas said. "We just need to find a way to be more consistent on this tricky race track. I really don't know why it gets so crazy in certain spots, but it does. Not having lane choice could hurt us depending on what the weather is like. We just need to take these races one at a time and try to beat the track. It's a shame that we open against Bruce but I can't really worry about that. I need to win."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Mike Thomas , Bruce Allen