Baldwin's Finish Line Top Fuel dragster was a breath of fresh air for
those who tire of NHRA Top Fuel finals featuring the Scelzis, Schumachers,
Dixons, and Kalittas. (One or the other of this quartet has won 17 of
the previous 22 national events.) And for that matter, the same applies
to Matco Tools Nationals winner Cory McClenathan, who wrang up his first
NHRA points win of the year, although he did win the non-points Winston
No Bull Showdown this summer. The out-of-pocket-budgeted Baldwin, who
has never made a final in his NHRA career, probably would walk off with
any Top Fuel Surprise of the Year awards after this game effort.
CORY MAC WHACKS BACK
when it looked like Cory McClenathan was going to endure his worst season
in NHRA racing, he roars to life in Houston. What was really eye-opening
about his victory in his debuting a new Murf McKinney-chassied (and,
of course, Wes Cerny-tuned) dragster was how he won. He qualified with
a 4.54 and then rattled off four-straight 4.5-second runs to become
the first Top Fuel dragster racer of the 90-percent era to roll all
'fifties at an NHRA national event. It has to be somewhat bitterly ironic
that this car appears to have only a two-race life in front of it with
the MBNA team as owner Joe Gibbs is pulling out and hauling ass to NASCAR.
FORCE PINS THE WRESTLERS FOR 10TH WINSTON CROWN
In 1990, it was Ed "the Ace" McCulloch and the Miller High Life Olds.
A year later, Jim White and the first-over-290 Funny Car, Roland Leong's
Hawaiian Punch Daytona stepped to the plate. After White came the fly
in the ointment, Cruz Pedregon in the McDonald's Pontiac, but after
1992, it's been all John Force in Funny Car the past decade plus and
as can be seen from the above, the competition ain't been easy. This
year's counter effort came from the world of professional wrestling
with the dual WWF Funny Cars of Jerry Toliver and Jim Epler, and they
took the big 1-2-3 on the mat from the Yorba Linda crusher at Houston.
Toliver may finish second, but Force won the Winston title for a record-tying
10th time (Bob Glidden had 10 in Pro Stock), and equally impressive
eighth straight time.