TWO-TIME TOPEKA TITLIST McCLENATHAN MOVING ON UP BROWNSBURG, Ind. (May 27, 2009) - FRAM Tough Guard Top Fuel racer Cory McClenathan is gradually moving up the ladder during the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. In the first eight...
TWO-TIME TOPEKA TITLIST McCLENATHAN MOVING ON UP
BROWNSBURG, Ind. (May 27, 2009) - FRAM Tough Guard Top Fuel racer Cory McClenathan is gradually moving up the ladder during the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
In the first eight races of the season he has vaulted from ninth to fourth place and has steadily qualified high, reaching his first No. 1 spot of the season in the last event at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway. He's been in the final round twice and once to the semifinals. As he and the FRAM Tough Guard team head to this weekend's NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka (Kan.), "Cory Mac" is knocking on the door of a spot in the top three in the rankings.
Qualifying No. 1 has its pitfalls. Earning the pole has often been considered a curse, as the record shows few low qualifiers going on to win the event. McClenathan exited last week's Bristol race in the quarterfinal round, but is on record as having won in Topeka in 1994 from the pole! "I guess maybe we don't want to qualify No. 1," he said, based on conventional wisdom. "No. 1 doesn't seem to work out for too many people. I'd be happy to be anywhere in the top five, to be honest with you. At the same time, we have had some success In Topeka through the years and we've won there from No. 1," said the Wichita, Kan., native. He's earned four No. 1 qualifiers in Topeka, two victories and one runner-up.
"I don't know if it's because I was born in Wichita or what," said McClenathan, "but the Topeka event has been good to me.
"I expect (crew chiefs) Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler to do a great job this weekend, as they have all year long. Going rounds is crucial. We'll try to qualify well, then attack the first round on Sunday and go from there. Points-wise, getting to the semis as many times as possible this year will help. And if we can get in the final round and get a win it would be fantastic.
"We just need to keep pace. We also need some of the other guys to go out early so we can catch up to the points leaders."