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Keeping Pace

THURSDAY, AUG. 12, 2010, 7:55 A.M.

Cory Mac in good spot as ‘regular’ season ends

Cory McClenathan secured his fourth No. 1 qualifier of the season when his quickest pass in NHRA Full Throttle Series history. (Photo courtesy of NHRA Media Relations) (Richard Wong)
Cory McClenathan secured his fourth No. 1 qualifier of the season when his quickest pass in NHRA Full Throttle Series history. (Photo courtesy of NHRA Media Relations) (Richard Wong)

Racing the FRAM Top Fuel dragster, Cory McClenathan has had a solid season competing against the rest of the category's elite, including his Don Schumacher Racing teammates Tony Schumacher and Antron Brown, Larry Dixon, Doug Kalitta, Brandon Bernstein, among others

Courtesy: NHRA Media Relations

Brainerd, MN-With this weekend's 29th annual NHRA Nationals at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway completing the "regular" 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season, Cory McClenathan feels he's in a good spot to contend for his first Top Fuel championship in the Countdown to 1 playoffs.

Racing the FRAM Top Fuel dragster, "Cory Mac" has had a solid season competing against the rest of the category's elite, including his Don Schumacher Racing teammates Tony Schumacher and Antron Brown, Larry Dixon, Doug Kalitta, Brandon Bernstein, among others.

He stands third in the rankings, has three victories in five final rounds to his credit, four No. 1 qualifiers, five semifinal finishes, and set the quickest elapsed time racing to 1000 feet in NHRA history (3.752 seconds). Not resting on their laurels, he and the FRAM team, led by crew chiefs Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler, still aim for another victory this weekend before the playoffs kick in at the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day for the top 10 in the final six events of the year.

"Todd, Phil, the FRAM boys and I are all thinking, 'Let's get back to being a consistent team,' and that's something that we're going to carry into the Countdown," said McClenathan, the 1997 Top Fuel champion in Brainerd. "So, we have one race to kind of get geared up for it.

"We've had a good car all year, so I'm not too concerned about falling off. I guess Denver didn't quite go the way we wanted it to (a first-round loss), but the conditions were completely different. We know we have a good hot-weather tune-up, a good cool-weather tune-up, and the Countdown is coming up.

"Points-wise, we're in a pretty good spot in third. It would be hard to pass (second-place) Tony right now," added McClenathan, who is just 32 markers behind his teammate. "Obviously, they're going to go out and try to win Brainerd, just like we are. But, as always, anything can happen. Antron (in fifth) is right there too, and he has a good car.

"It's gear-up time. It's going to be different starting the Countdown in Indy this year, but I'm looking forward to that.

"We've done well in Brainerd," added McClenathan, who was also runner-up there in 2008, No. 1 qualifier in 1992 and 1998, and holds the elapsed-time track record of 3.811 seconds. "It would be nice to leave there with a win and have some momentum going into Indy. I think that would be great for the whole FRAM team."




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Keeping Pace

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