Cory Mac, Wilkerson end droughts in Vegas
Cory McClenathan claimed his first Top Fuel win in more than a year, and Tim Wilkerson ended a winless drought that extends back to the 2004 Sonoma event during the final rounds of the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. McClenathan, in his first full season as a member of Schumacher Racing, won his 30th career title when he defeated recent Houston winner Antron Brown in the final, 4.65 to 4.70. Wilkerson, the top qualifier at two of the season’s first five events, relegated Ashley Force to a runner-up for the second-straight event following a close 4.96 to 4.99 final.
McClenathan and Wilkerson were joined in the winner’s circle by former POWERade world champion and Summit-backed racer Jason Line, who claimed his first win of the season over Greg Stanfield, who was seeking to win his first Pro Stock event.
Despite track temperatures that exceeded 130 degrees, McClenathan never ran slower than 4.78 on race day as he drove his Fram dragster to wins against Top Fuel “brat pack” members J.R. Todd, Morgan Lucas, and Brandon Bernstein, good friends who often socialize away from the track. A regular on the NHRA tour since 1991, McClenathan was appearing in his 51st career final and scored his first win in Las Vegas. He has now claimed wins at 15 different NHRA venues.
“To say the least, it’s about time,” said McClenathan. “It’s been a couple of years since we even had a competitive car. To win my 30th race exactly 30 races after my last win is incredible. Thanks to [crew chief] Mike Green and all the guys that work on my team and the crew at Don Schumacher Racing. It’s great to be a part of that team. Hopefully, I will be able to finish my career there.
“I kept lane choice all day, and we worked it. We also had a lot of help from all of the other teams. There was a sea of different colored uniforms over there, and that happens at the shop too. There were 30 guys working on our race car. I just stayed back and did my job when it was time to race.
“Antron Brown is a great driver who is learning really fast, and Lee [Beard] is a great crew chief, so I was taking nothing for granted. We made some good runs, and it was good enough to get the job done.”
Two weeks after winning his first Top Fuel event, former Pro Stock Motorcycle ace Brown nearly claimed his second title with a solid performance from his Matco Tools dragster. Brown was solid in the opening round with a 4.68 win against Bob Vandergriff’s UPS dragster, but he later had to pedal the car in his tire-smoking wins against Kalitta Racing teammates Hillary Will and Doug Kalitta.
Following the win, McClenathan is now ranked fourth in the POWERade standings, behind reigning champ Tony Schumacher, Larry Dixon, and Brown.