Jay Blake’s Permatex/Follow A Dream Top Alcohol Funny Car team was out after one round at the rain-plagued Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway in Charlotte. More than 40 Top Alcohol Funny Car and Top Alcohol Dragster teams waited out persistent showers all day Friday, and just as the cars left the pits to head to the staging lanes for the rescheduled first qualifying session that night, the session was cancelled due to an impending rainstorm that never came.
After back-to-back qualifying runs in quick succession Saturday morning, driver Todd Veney was 9th in the field with a backpedaling 5.67 at 253 mph. In the first round that night, he shut off behind the starting line and opponent Matt Gill singled to the win.
“At the end of the burnout, I heard something banging around inside the bellhousing,” Veney said. “The whole way back to the starting line, I hoped that that sound would go away, but it never did. Shutting off is the last thing you’d ever want to do – especially in eliminations – but the same thing happened in the final round a long time ago at the Gatornationals, and it tore up the whole clutch and caused a lot of damage, so I hit the kill switch.”
“You can’t take a chance with something like that,” Blake said. “There’s a driver in there, and there’s no way to tell how bad it is until you get everything taken apart. There’s nothing good about losing, but if you had to go out in the first round, I guess this wasn’t the worst time for it to happen.”
For perhaps the first time ever, an NHRA national event was canceled in the middle of competition Sunday because of deteriorating track conditions. The Top Fuel dragsters and nitro Funny Cars ripped up the track in the first round of the professional categories, and right after Top Alcohol Funny Car was called to the lanes for round two, the race was suspended indefinitely.
The Permatex/Follow A Dream team’s next race is the NHRA Nationals Oct. 3-5 at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., where last year Veney reached the semifinals. The season wraps up Nov. 14-16 at the NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif., where the team was runner-up in 2005 and won in 2006.