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NHRA: Hill's Fast Pass Lifts Team Pennzoil

14 November 1998

POMONA, Calif. - Hall of Fame pilot Eddie Hill provided the Day 2 fireworks for Team Pennzoil when he flashed down the quarter-mile strip of Pomona Raceway with a flame-throwing, second-round pass. The run allowed Hill to successfully qualify for the 34th Annual Winston Finals elimination rounds, which take place Sunday, while also providing his crew some valuable tune-up data before Saturday's Big Bud Shootout. Across the compound, Hill's Pro Stock teammates found the hot track a little harder to deal with and failed to improve on their Round 1 times.

Here's the latest news from each Pennzoil driver's pit.

Eddie Hill, the pilot of the Pennzoil Top Fuel Dragster, helped bring the crowd out of their seats with a spectacular side-by-side lap against back-to-back Top Fuel champion Gary Scelzi. The early-evening fireworks saw Hill card a 4.633-second pass at 304.15 mph next to Scelzi's stunning 4.548-second lap at 323.85 mph.

"We would have looked great if it wasn't for that smart aleck in the other lane," Hill said with a laugh. "We did stay with him for a good long while and that's saying a lot when you consider how incredibly fast Gary has been running every week.

"Now we're safely in the show (in fourth place) and we can really concentrate on making a serious run at the Big Bud Shootout title. We're gonna let it all hang out. Dan (Olson, crew chief) is setting the car up for maximum performance and we'll just see what happens. I like where we're sitting right now."

Hill will open the Shootout against Mike Dunn, who will have lane choice over Hill. The two men have split their previous two head-to-head races this year.

Mike Thomas, the driver of the Pennzoil Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, ran a competitive second-round lap of 6.964 seconds at 198.58 mph but was fractionally slower than his Round 1 pass of 6.950 seconds at 199.24 mph. Through two rounds, Thomas remains in the 16-car field in the No. 8 position.

"That was a decent run but it wasn't as high a quality of run as we expected," Thomas said. "I've got to work at getting this car off the starting line a little faster. Plus, we're spinning the tires a little bit in every gear, which is something we need to eliminate.

"Tomorrow morning's run is all-important. There is no question that it will be the best session of the race and it will also be real similar to what we'll see on race day. Each round is getting better because there is more and more rubber on the track. If you're a race fan, I wouldn't miss tomorrow morning. We'll all be flying."

Bruce Allen, the driver of the Outlaw Fuel Additives Pro Stock Pontiac Firebird, had another frustrating run in Round 2. His 7.050-second lap at 195.18 mph was slightly slower than yesterday's 7.029-second lap at 197.10 mph. Neither time was quick enough to place Allen in the field. He currently occupies the 28th spot.

"We flat-out don't know what's wrong," crew chief Dave Reher said. "We'll just have to keep on working until we fix all of these problems. We're going to change out engines, among other things, and try to go faster in the morning. It's very frustrating right now."

With tomorrow morning's session expected to be the quickest of the event, Allen voiced his concern over having just one more legitimate chance to make the field. "That first run is the most important pass of the weekend," Allen said. "It's really our best opportunity to secure a spot in Sunday's action. But first we must isolate our problems. We've been battling something for several races now and it seems to be getting worse. I hope we can figure it out before tomorrow."