SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 8) -- Team Pennzoil entered the chase for the title of the 12th Annual Autolite Nationals Sunday morning at Sears Point Raceway with its full compliment of professional drivers. The day certainly seemed full of promise. But...
SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 8) -- Team Pennzoil entered the chase for the title of the 12th Annual Autolite Nationals Sunday morning at Sears Point Raceway with its full compliment of professional drivers. The day certainly seemed full of promise. But after just one round of elimination racing, only Pro Stock driver Mike Thomas remains in contention.
It was certain that at least one Pennzoil-sponsored pro would survive the opening round because Thomas faced teammate Bruce Allen in Round 1. During their race, both drivers encountered traction problems but Thomas was able to get enough horsepower out of his Pennzoil machine to take the win over Allen's tire-rattling Outlaw Fuel Additives ride. The final numbers saw Thomas post a 7.252-second lap at 157.26 mph against Allen's partially shut-off lap of 12.524 seconds at 69.45 mph.
"A win is a win is a win," Thomas said. "I can't believe how bad the track is. They didn't clean up after the (nitro) fuel guys near enough. There was clutch dust all over the place and I just about wrecked when my tires started spinning in fourth gear. We were on a really nice run too. I guess I should just take the win and not complain. It's too bad that it had to be Bruce in the other lane."
Allen congratulated his teammate while lamenting on his loss. "Hat's off to Mike," he said. "He did what it took to win. We encountered severe, violent tire shake during the start of that run. The tires were literally spinning right up off of the track. This has happened to us a few times already this year and so far we haven't made the right adjustments to overcome the problem. We'll just have to keep plugging away and hope we find an answer."
Allen has qualified for seven races this year and has notched one elimination round win.
Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, lost his opening round race against Jim Head when his Screaming Eagle hot rod lost traction at the starting line. Head, who was driving a back-up car after destroying his primary dragster in qualifying, took the easy win with a pass of 4.785 seconds at 305.80 mph against Hill's 8.059-seconds, 98.30-mph lap.
"There is no way to describe how terrible I feel," Hill said. "I don't think anyone could ever know this feeling unless they've experienced it themselves. Since the conditions were the same, we set everything up exactly the way it was for our 4.61-second qualifying run. But we ended up with a totally different result. To me, that's the most frustrating part of racing."
Hill, 63, has qualified for 13 races this season and won eight individual elimination rounds. He is currently in 11th place in the Winston championship points standings.