Cory McClenathan: Qualified No. 2: 4.618 seconds at 322.42 mph Eliminations: Round ...
Qualified No. 2: 4.618 seconds at 322.42 mph
Round #1: McClenathan (4.667/316.90) def. Mitch King (5.119/207.98)
Round #2 (Quarterfinals): McClenathan (4.689/313.66) def. Rhonda Hartman-Smith (5.402/175.80)
Round #3 (Semifinals): McClenathan (4.714/313.66) lost to Darrell Russell (4.761/301.54)
Cory McClenathan advances to semifinals; remains third in points.
TOPEKA, Kan., May 26, 2002 --Final eliminations for the 14th annual NHRA O'Reilly Summer Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec got underway today at Heartland Park Topeka (Kan.).
In the opening round Cory McClenathan, from Anaheim, Calif., driver of the Henkelman & Baca Motorsports Top Fuel Dragster, faced Mitch King, from Galveston, Texas. McClenathan qualified second with an elapsed time (E.T.) of 4.618 seconds at 322.42 mph. King qualified 15th with a best elapsed time of 4.895 seconds. It was the first-ever meeting in NHRA competition between the pair.
The outcome of the McClenathan versus King match up was never in doubt, as McClenathan left and never looked back. McClenathan crossed the finish line first in 4.667 seconds and earned lane choice against Rhonda Hartman-Smith in the quarterfinals.
This is the fourth meeting this year between McClenathan and Hartman-Smith, with McClenathan winning two of the three previous races. The pair have raced nine times in their career, with McClenathan holding an eight to one advantage.
Make that nine to one McClenathan, but Hartman-Smith was in the race until half track when her car started to go away. McClenathan was first to cross the finish line, followed by a slowing Hartman-Smith. McClenathan's 4.689 second run earned the thirty-nine-year-old driver choice of lanes against his semifinal opponent Darrell Russell, driver of the Joe Amato-owned dragster.
In their only other meeting to date, McClenathan bested Russell at the 2002 Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals presented by Pontiac at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga.
This weekend, Russell evened up the win-loss record against McClenathan. With a phenomenal reaction time at the green light by Russell and a pass of 4.761 seconds, the Houston driver was able to hold off the hard charging McClenathan on the top end. It was a .433 second reaction time for Russell, almost unheard of in Top Fuel racing, that proved to be the difference.
McClenathan's reaction time was .490 seconds. When you couple his quarter-mile elapsed time of 4.714 seconds with his reaction time you find that McClenathan was only behind .010 seconds at the finish line, approximately five feet. McClenathan simply ran out of track.
Russell went on to defeat Larry Dixon in the Top Fuel final. It was Russell's second final round of the season and first win. For Dixon, who continues the torrid pace he been on through the first nine races, this is his eighth final round. Dixon has five wins thus far in 2002.
In the other profession categories: Tony Pedregon defeated Tim Wilkerson in Funny Car and Pro Stock had it ninth different winner in nine events when Troy Coughlin bested Mark Whisnant.
By advancing to the semifinals, coupled with Tony Schumacher's exit in the same round, McClenathan remained third in the NHRA POWERade point standings. He trails only Dixon in first and Kenny Bernstein in second.
It's back-to-back weekends again, the third of three races in a row, for the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. McClenathan and the Henkelman & Baca Motorsports Team now move to Joliet, Ill., about 30 miles out of Chicago, for the NHRA Chicagoland Dodge Dealers Nationals at Route 66 Raceway. Professional qualifying gets underway on Friday, May 31st, with final eliminations scheduled for Sunday, June 2nd.