Photos and image courtesy Don Schumacher Racing

NHRA: Cory McClenathan to unretire for two races next month in Indy

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The Mac Attack is back.

Veteran NHRA Top Fuel driver Cory McClenathan — also known as “Cory Mac” — will come out of retirement to drive in next month’s first two races of the resumed 2020 NHRA national event schedule.

Both races will be held at Lucas Oil Raceway in suburban Indianapolis on July 11-12 and July 18-19.

The 57-year-old McClenathan’s return to racing will be brief. He plans to retire again after competing in those two races, which he’s calling his “redemption tour.”

He explained the reason why in a media release issued Wednesday morning:

“I had made the decision to hang up my driving shoes last year, but I ran the last three events of the 2019 season, and things didn’t go as I had hoped. I was left feeling like I had some unfinished business.”

McClenathan will drive for Don Schumacher Racing, who he previously raced for earlier in his career, including earning five of his 34 career Top Fuel wins for between 2008 and 2010.

“I’ve known Don Schumacher and the Schumacher family for years and have remained close with them,” McClenathan said. “Don knew that I really wanted to go out with a bang last year, and that didn’t happen.

“So when all of this talk of re-starting the 2020 season with two consecutive Indy races came about, he told me that if I could come up with the necessary funding, I could run those two events in a DSR Top Fuel dragster.

“DSR is a top-tier team, so to be able to drive with them again is a big deal to me; the opportunity was just too good to pass up. I called upon my longtime partners and we were able to put a deal together which will allow me to race at the first two Indy events.”

McClenathan is one of the more notable drivers in Top Fuel history. He was the first driver to break the 320 mph barrier and also the first driver to cover the quarter-mile in under 4.80 seconds. He also has more than 500 career individual round victories in NHRA Top Fuel competition.

The Corona, California resident is currently ninth on the NHRA Top Fuel all-time wins list. If he wins either race in Indianapolis, he would tie “Big Daddy” Don Garlits’ mark for eighth on the list with 35 wins apiece.

McClenathan will pilot DSR driver Leah Pruett’s back-up car, and will be reunited with his former crew chief, Todd Okuhara, who will tune both McClenathan’s dragster as well as Pruett’s primary ride in the two Indy races.

Indianapolis has been a successful venue for McClenathan. He has two NHRA U.S. Nationals wins (1996 and 1999) and two runner-up finishes there.

McClenathan isn’t the only driver coming back next month. Eight-time champion and the winningest driver in Top Fuel history (84 wins), Tony Schumacher, will also race in next month’s races at Indy.

Although the pair has been longtime friends, they’re also staunch rivals on the dragstrip.

“An ideal situation would be meeting up with Tony in the final round,” McClenathan said. “I think the fans would really get a kick out of watching us battle it out.

“We raced against each other in the 1996 U.S. Nationals finals; it was Tony’s first time competing in Top Fuel. I ended up winning but I think it would be really fun and special if we could have a repeat of that.”

McClenathan is putting Schumacher and all other Top Fuel drivers on notice: “I’m just so excited to get back out there, see the fans, and hopefully add another Wally (a national event win) trophy to my collection. Yes, I’m here to have fun, but I’m also here to win.”

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Kyle Larson’s ASCOC win streak ends on wild crash in South Dakota

Kyle Larson crash
Trent Gower
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The record winning streak of Kyle Larson in the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions came to a jarring halt Sunday night with a wild crash in a heat race.

On the third lap of the second heat race at Huset Speedway in Brandon, South Dakota, Larson got high entering Turn 1 and slammed the wall. His No. 57, which had won the past seven races in the ASCOC (and its previous eight starts in the series), flipped multiple times before coming to a stop upside down on the dirt.

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Larson reportedly was OK after the crash, but his car was too damaged to continue, causing the driver to miss the main event. Cory Eliason scored his first ASCOC victory this season (and $20,000) by winning the 35-lap A main over Kerry Madsen before a capacity crowd.

 

The crash came while Kyle Larson was running last. He had rejoined the heat race after suffering a flat right rear tire a few minutes earlier in contact with the frontstretch wall on the second lap.

It was a disappointing end to a night that started with promise for Larson, who had set the fastest lap in time trials. It also snapped a run in which he was unbeaten from July 10 through Aug. 1 in the 410 winged sprint car circuit owned by Tony Stewart that started in 1970. Larson had 23 victories in his previous 37 starts on dirt since the beginning of June in sprint cars and USAC midget events.

He will have to wait a while to start his next streak in the ASCOC, which will take two weeks off before returning Aug. 21 at I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Michigan.

The dirt racing world will spend the next two weekends at Knoxville Raceway, which postponed its annual Knoxville Nationals but still will be playing host to a 360 Nationals event Aug. 6-8 from World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Series on Aug. 13-15.