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in the world of drag racing

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The latest update as of July 28, 2001

11:55 PM:  It's not my fault; it's Rob and Shane Tucker's fault; Mark and Lezlee Hentges' fault; it's Jim Rockstad and NHRA's fault.... oh heck, you know it, and I know it, it's really all my fault. Despite our best intentions, the quick feed at the Hentges' barbecue turned into a party that carried on until they literally turned out the lights; then we had to sit around the motel and discuss the state of drag racing for a while, and by then it was far too late to consider transcribing 35 pages of single-spaced notes into a page like I did last night.

So, we'll just touch on a couple of highlights, wish you a good night and do our best to get home and get busy early tomorrow night with the balance of Saturday's report, all of Sunday's and all the pics I took over the weekend. Speaking of pics, we've got three of the best (okay, the only three he took before his camera battery died...) taken today by our Seattle host, Casey Binz. From the weird to the wonderful to the downright puzzling we've got all the bases covered with this trio of images.

Chief Running-Amok spotted early in the day in the Alcohol pits...

Look close, look real close, like at the guy to the right of the guy in the white shirt and who do you see? No you goose, it's not Wilson.... he's not that old.... yet. It's none other than Don "Big Daddy" Garlits.

Time for another guessing game: With all the crew chiefs on his payroll (14 at last count), why does John Force (on the left) have to go to Jerry Darien (on the right) for tuneup tips? Any truth to the rumour (yes, the one I just started) that Force's daughter Ashley will be driving the Darien & Meadows A/Fuel car next year.

Now for the highlights of today's action:

Pro Stock: They all ran pretty quick, they were all pretty boring, but at least they had a serious bump spot of 6.89, four cars ran 6.82, and a Dodge Hemi driven by Darrel Alderman set a new national record of 202.42 mph. Trust me, that was no laughing matter. Or nothing to sniff at......

Federal-Mogul Dragster: They cancelled the third qualifying session due to the late (about three hours) start after the all-night rain. The only car out in the cold was Bernie Plourd, who showed up a day late and half a car short. Everyone else in the pits was in the field automatically.

The only really major surprise in the first round of eliminations was Brandon Henkelman's other-worldly 5.23 at 269.03 in a first round drubbing of Mike (No, not "THAT" Mike) Austin. Several cars turned career bests, including Kim Parker at 5.60, and Paul Jones at 5.42.

Other standouts were Bernstein's second straight 5.33, Shields' 5.36, Santos' 5.36, Hentges' 5.40, Hough's 5.41, Baca's 5.45... gee, in fact everyone ran pretty well. Maybe it had something to do with the air readings that neared zero.

Federal-Mogul Funny Car: Pat Austin lead off eliminations with a 5.73 at 248.75 on a bye run, for low e.t. of the meet... so far. Doug Gordon stepped up big to a 5.75 at 250 mph, while defeating B.C.'s Rod Clough. Other winners were Dan McGlone at 5.84, John Weaver at 5.85, Bucky Austin at 5.82, Randy Parker 5.84, and Calgary's Roger Bateman at 5.89.

Nitro Funny Car: This was the only blown field with non-qualifiers. Epler and Haddock end up being the designated non-drivers for Sunday. The last two pairs of the last session provided the quickest e.t.'s of the weekend, with John "Who Else?" Force at 4.82, and Dean "Cleveland Rocks" Skuza at 4.83.

Top Fuel Dragster: The first session of the day, at 2pm featured a plethora of 4.60's and a couple of ka-boomers, courtesy of Craig Smith and Mike Dunn. Dixon ran the best at 4.53 and 320 mph.

The second session opens with the proverbial bang, as "Renton Ron" Smith breaks the sound barrier, and nearly everything in between as he "improves" to a bump setting 9.91.... which under normal circumstances wouldn't be good enough to be in the top half of the Super Gas field.

Then it's almost nothing but 4.50's and 4.60's, with the last three pairs seeing increasingly higher new top speeds, of 320 by Schumacher, 321 by Dixon and 322 by Bernstein. A great finish to the day and an excellent prelude to tomorrow's eliminations.

The only problem could be better weather (a problem?), if the sun comes out and stays out, increasing the track temperatures and raising the corrected altitude. Today's track conditions were the best seen at Seattle in many years, with the atmospherics combining with NHRA's preparation in a serendipitous symphony of drag racing success.

We'll do our best to get all the details recorded and posted as soon as possible on Sunday evening, and again, our apologies for failing in our mission to provide the full meal deal tonight.

And speaking of food, thanks heaps to the very generous Hentges family for an out of this world salmon barbeuce, and to the fine folks at NHRA Media Relations for keeping me well supplied with snacks, coffee, and lunch throughout the day.

See you all tomorrow for day three of what is becoming "The Battle for Seattle (Supremacy)".

Black Bar
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