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NHRA: Cory McClenathan Jumps to Second in Top Fuel With Seattle Win

  Cory McClenathan
  Cory McClenathan picked up his third win of the season at the NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways.


McCLENATHAN, WILKERSON, ANDERSON GRAB WINS IN SEATTLE; FIRST STOP OF THE WESTERN SWING: Cory McClenathan showed why he’s a world championship contender when he drove his FRAM dragster past teammate Antron Brown to pick up his third win of the season Sunday at the NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways just outside of Seattle, Washington, the first stop of the famed Western Swing. With the win, McClenathan leap-frogged over his other teammate, defending world champion Tony Schumacher, to take the second spot in the Top Fuel point standings. The win also put McClenathan in the running to sweep the Western Swing, a feat he accomplished in 1997 and something that was on his mind Sunday when he pulled up to the line next to Brown.

“Before the final, I thought ‘Antron and I have both won this thing (the Western Swing)’, and I wanted to be the first to do it two times,” said McClenathan. “It’s a lot to ask for, and you can’t get there unless you win this one, which is what we did.”

In Funny Car, Tim Wilkerson was able to hold off the fast-charging NAPA Dodge Charger of Ron Capps to earn his third win of the season, second consecutive on the year and second consecutive in Seattle. Wilkerson drove his Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang past the likes of Bob Tasca, Cruz Pedregon, Matt Hagan and Capps to grab his 16th career victory. A victory that also moved him from seventh to fifth in the Funny Car point standings.

“We seem like we’ve come into our own in this kind of weather,” said Wilkerson. “I looked stupid on Saturday (during qualifying). I got back to the pits, and my guys had glum faces, saying, ‘I can’t believe we smoked the tires two times in a row. We’re going to get our butts kicked tomorrow.’ I had to tell them we were trying something.”

In Pro Stock, former Western Swing Sweeper Greg Anderson carried his string of success in Norwalk over to Seattle as he drove his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP past Johnny Gray to grab his second consecutive win of the season and 62nd of his career. Anderson is the only Pro Stock driver to have swept the Swing (2004) and looks to become the first driver to sweep it twice.

“We haven’t operated this smoothly in about three or four years. We’re looking forward to the rest of the year and certainly for the rest of the Western Swing. I guess I’m the only one left who has a chance to sweep the Swing because everybody else lost today. That would be an awesome accomplishment because each of the racetracks is so different with their conditions, and that’s what makes the Swing such a challenge.”

To see how your favorite drivers did at the NHRA Northwest Nationals, visit


FRAM-AUTOLITE NHRA NATIONALS, INFINEON RACEWAY, July 16–18: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to Northern California for the 15th of 17 races in the NHRA Countdown to 10 and the second race of the three-race Western Swing. Defending event winners include Antron Brown (Top Fuel); Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car); Jason Line (Pro Stock); and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

MOPAR MILE-HIGH NHRA NATIONALS, BANDIMERE SPEEDWAY, July 23–25: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to the Rocky Mountains for the 16th of 17 races in the NHRA Countdown to 10 and the third and final race of the grueling three-races-in-three-weeks Western Swing. Defending event winners include Antron Brown (Top Fuel); Ron Capps (Funny Car); Allen Johnson (Pro Stock); and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS, BRAINERD INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, August 12–15: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to northern Minnesota for the final race of the Countdown to 10 regular season. Defending event winners include Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel); Tony Pedregon (Funny Car); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

Jeff Arend Tony Pedregon
Jeff Arend Tony Pedregon


NO SWEEP!: Top Fuel pilot Larry Dixon on his plans heading into the second race of the Western Swing, the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California:

“Our chance to sweep the Western Swing is gone, but you still want to try and do well at the next race. If we can win at Sonoma, that means there’s no sweep. Everyone except Cory [McClenathan] is trying to work on their own setups to try and keep him from sweeping. It’s nothing personal, we just want our own teams to rebound and do well for ourselves.”


31: That’s the number of points in Funny Car that separates 11th-place driver Jeff Arend from 10th-place driver Tony Pedregon. There are only three more races in the Countdown to 10 regular season before the Top 10 in the point standings advance to the Countdown to 1 playoffs to compete for the World Championship.


…that the first 10 years of the famed Western Swing, the Sonoma race was the second stop on the three-races-in-three-weeks stretch? It wasn’t until 1999 that the races were moved to the final stop on the circuit, where it stayed for another 10 years until it was moved back to the second stop this season.