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Keeping Pace

McClenathan Makes Quiet Run For The Money


Driving the FRAM Tough Guard Top Fuel dragster for Don Schumacher Racing, Cory McClenathan has shown quiet determination and skill this year, and his team, led by first-time Top Fuel tuners Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler, have demonstrated their strength on the drag strip.


Courtesy: NHRA Media Relations

Bristol, Tenn. (May 13, 2009)-In an NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Top Fuel season that is not seeing the dominance of one team or driver as in years past, Cory McClenathan sits comfortably in a perch from which his view on the horizon includes a strong chance of claiming his first Top Fuel crown.

Driving the FRAM Tough Guard Top Fuel dragster for Don Schumacher Racing, McClenathan has shown quiet determination and skill this year, and his team, led by first-time Top Fuel tuners Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler, have demonstrated their strength on the drag strip.

In just seven national events, McClenathan has advanced to the final round twice, to the semifinals once and to the quarterfinals three times. He’s qualified in the top half of the field in four events, including his best of the season, a No. 2 at the last race in St. Louis. He’s fourth in the standings, just 108 points out of first place. A victory to add to his career tally of 30 is all that’s missing. “Cory Mac” has never won the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. He would like to do that this weekend.

“I think that the FRAM Tough Guard car needs a win, and I’d like nothing better than to do it in Bristol,” said McClenathan, who launched his pro career in 1991. “I think we’re kind of on the verge of it. We’re one of those top-three, -four, -five cars. If you keep running that good, you’re bound to make it into the winner’s circle. That’s how I’ve always looked at it.

“The FRAM Tough Guard guys have done a great job. If we just keep on being consistent we’re going to fall on the right side of the ladder. It looks to me like some of those five different drivers who have won this year had a little bit of luck fall on their shoulders. And that’s what we need.

“We have worked very hard for every single one of our rounds this year, so I think if we can go out there and get one good lucky round and run well the rest of the rounds, we’ll be OK.”

As for this dynamic season, which has seen the points shuffle at every event, “This season is like what we saw in Funny Car last year,” he said. “And it’s going to continue this way to the end, I believe. It could come down to where there’s four or five of us going into the last couple of races or even into Pomona (season-closer) and still have a shot at the title.

“It’s exciting for everybody and for us too. It keeps us on our toes as drivers, and the crew chiefs are wondering what to do one week to the next and one round to the next. It makes them make bigger changes that they necessarily wouldn’t normally make.

“We’re beginning to get into the summer months, where we have to be concerned about the heat, but It won’t be that hot in Bristol,” added McClenathan. “We won’t have to worry about that. Those races are coming up soon, so we’re excited for Bristol. This might be the time when we can put the FRAM Tough Guard car into the winner’s circle.

“It would be great for me. I’d love to win there. I never have.”


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Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.

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