Cory McClenathan posted a performance of 3.882 seconds at 317.05 mph in his FRAM Tough Guard dragster to lead the Top Fuel category, finally bringing to a close a long first day of qualifying prolonged by several rain delays.
Courtesy: NHRA Media Relations
MORRISON, Colo. – Cory McClenathan raced to the qualifying lead Friday at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at scenic Bandimere Speedway near Denver.
The veteran driver posted a performance of 3.882 seconds at 317.05 mph in his FRAM Tough Guard dragster to lead the Top Fuel category, finally bringing to a close a long first day of qualifying prolonged by several rain delays.
“It was unbelievable how many fans stuck around to watch us after the delay,” McClenathan said during a midnight visit to the media center. “It was so cool to hear how many people were cheering when the first pair of fuelers pulled up after the track dried. This track is killer, and the FRAM guys did a great job. You always wonder how your car is going to run on ‘the hill.’ (Crew chiefs) Phil (Shuler) and Todd (Okuhara) looked at the conditions and said they were going to get after it, so I can’t say I’m surprised by how it ran. I never would have thought I’d see a car go 276 mph to 660 feet at this place, though.”
Tony Pedregon, Allen Johnson and Craig Treble also were qualifying leaders in their respective categories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Pedregon was quickest in Funny Car with a 4.170 at 292.33 in his Q-Horsepower Chevy Impala.
“The conditions we ran in are the best conditions that you’ll see anywhere,” Pedregon said. “The challenge we face here is making enough power and downforce in the altitude. I was as excited as Dickie Venables, my crew chief, was when we saw how good the track conditions were. I didn’t think we were going to get the second session off today, but what do I know? I’m from California, and we don’t get this weather. That last session made it worth the long day. I have a three-year-old and a 10-month-old waiting for me in the motorhome – the glamorous life of a professional drag racer.”
Johnson powered his J&J Racing/Team Mopar Dodge Stratus to the top spot in Pro Stock, covering the distance with a track record performance of 6.964 at 197.10.
Earlier in final Pro Stock session, Greg Anderson became the first driver in that category to post a six-second elapsed time at the famed high-altitude drag strip, clocking a 6.993 in his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP. Mike Edwards also joined Anderson and Johnson in the Denver six-second club with a 6.995 in his ART/Young Life GXP.
“I was watching the scoreboard in front of me,” said Johnson, who won this event in 2007 and was runner-up here last season. “After Greg took the first six-second run away from us, I wanted to run something that would knock his you-know-what in the dirt. I feel fortunate to run like that here to give the Mopar guys something to hold their chest out about. Testing out here for three days really paid dividends for us. This is an important race to us, so we want to be ready. We don’t come to this race just wanting to win – we want to qualify No. 1 and dominate.”
Treble rode his Team Scream Suzuki to a 7.358 at 177.98 to lead Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying.
“We’re really satisfied with how the bike is running,” Treble said. “The first run was basically a scrub pass. We just got our motor back from Vance & Hines, and you’re not supposed to turn the wick up on it until it’s broken in. We went out there conservative, put some carbon on the pistons, and turned it up. It shot out of there on the last pass. We just gave the bike what we thought it would take. It has a couple hundredths left in it, but I’m trying to be smart about tuning it. Every round-win is more gas money to get to the next race.”
Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at 3:45 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Sunday’s eliminations start at noon.