NHRA: Pennzoil's Hill Adds to Pennsylvania Power Parade
19 September 1998READING, Pa. - The capacity crowd of drag racing fans at Maple Grove Raceway, which included NASCAR drivers Rusty Wallace and Jimmy Spencer, witnessed a sensational Friday night session of professional qualifying as the world's quickest drivers fought for positions at the 14th annual Pioneer Keystone Nationals. The Pennzoil stable of drivers did its part in impressing the oval track superstars - whom were visiting from nearby Dover Downs International Raceway - as all three Pennzoil-sponsored pilots finished the day with some impressive numbers.
Here's the latest news along Pennzoil's pit row.
Eddie Hill, the Top Fuel pilot of the Pennzoil Dragster, couldn't improve on the stellar 4.639-second, 298.50-mph pass he recorded during Friday's opening round when he returned to the strip for the evening session. Under the lights, Hill overpowered the track and lost traction at the starting line, forcing him to shut down his motor to avoid damage. Nevertheless, the day was a good one for the 62-year-old Hill, who finished in third place.
"The first lap certainly makes the tire-smoker easier to swallow," Hill said. "The advantage of running such a great lap in the opening round is that it gives you an opportunity to test the limits of the track, which is exactly what we did in the second round. If the tires had held (in Round 2) at the start we would have run in the 4.5 (second) range. We're not complaining though. This has been a great day for Team Pennzoil."
Mike Thomas, the Pro Stock driver of the Pennzoil Pontiac Firebird, joined 11 other drivers in his class that ran sub seven-second laps in Round 2 when he recorded a 6.999-second pass at 196.42 mph. The quick time moved Thomas into the No. 11 spot through two rounds of professional qualifying.
"I'm super excited because we totally missed the clutch set-up and still ran a 6.999-second lap," Thomas said. "We left at least five-hundreds of a second on the track. It looks as though we have a lot of the information we're going to need to run fast on Sunday. I would like to improve our spot on the ladder and I believe we still have a real good chance to move up tomorrow morning. If the conditions are anything like they were today at 11 a.m. then we'll all be running just as fast as we were tonight."
Bruce Allen, the Pro Stock driver of the Outlaw Fuel Additives Pontiac Firebird, improved on his Round 1 time of 7.106 seconds when he posted a 7.049-second, 195.35 mph lap on Friday evening. Still, Allen has not qualified for the field of 16 that will race on Sunday, finishing the opening day in the 24th position.
"We feel a little lost right now," Allen said. "The car gets completely out of shape at the other end of the track every time we make a run. It just will not stay straight. It's bouncing all over the place and shaking itself out of the groove and then we just start spinning the tires. We can't even gain any information from these runs. I'm really flustered right now.
"We need to make some major changes and get ready for tomorrow morning. If we figure out what's wrong then we can post a real quick time. The weather should be cool enough to go fast. We have to get better in a hurry."