American champion Cory McClenathan will drive one of two Top Fuel cars entered by Sydney-based Rapisarda Racing/Titan Cranes team at the Winternationals starting today at Willowbank Raceway.
American champion Cory McClenathan will drive one of two Top Fuel cars entered by Sydney-based Rapisarda Racing/Titan Cranes team at the Winternationals starting today at Willowbank Raceway. Grant Stephens

Cory keen for Winternats win

AMERICAN Top Fuel champion Cory McClenathan is eager to win Australia’s most prestigious drag race event, the Winternationals, at Willowbank Raceway starting today.

McClenathan, from Brownsburg, Indiana, will drive one of two Top Fuel cars entered by Sydney-based Rapisarda Racing/Titan Cranes team at the 44th annual Winternationals.

The second Rapisarda car will be driven by Mark Mariani from Sydney.

McClenathan previously raced in Australia at Sydney Dragway in December 2007, where he reached the semi final.

He has an impressive National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) record, including winning 34 Top Fuel events from 65 final appearances and four Top Alcohol events from six finals.

Cory Mac, as he is affectionately known, has also won the 1996 and 1999 US Nationals and has finished second in the NHRA Top Fuel championship series four times (1992, 1995, 1997 and 1998).

McClenathan finished third in last year’s NHRA championship.

In an ironic twist, he had his chance of winning his first championship dashed when current teammate Mariani beat him in the first round of eliminations at the 2010 NHRA penultimate Las Vegas Nationals event.

McClenathan did not have to think for long before accepting Rapisarda Racing principle Santo Rapisarda’s invitation to drive for his team at Willowbank.

“I’m very excited to be heading back to Australia and to be racing with Santo Rapisarda,” McClenathan said.

“The Winternationals is an event that everyone in America knows about and it’s one that a lot of guys would love to head down under for.

“Fortunately this year, I am available and, when Santo (Rapisarda) asked me, I was very quick to accept.

“To come to Willowbank and have the opportunity to win the Winternationals for Rapisarda Racing at a venue that is so close to the Rapisarda family’s heart would mean the world to me.”

McClenathan said while Top Fuel races over 304.8 metres in the NHRA, he was looking forward to racing over the traditional quarter-mile (403.5 metres) this weekend.

He was the first driver to break the 320mph (514.99km/h) barrier over quarter-mile with a 322.17mph (518.48km/h) pass at Dallas in 1997.

He was the first driver in NHRA history to run in the 4.70-second zone with a pass of 4.799 pass at Reading in 1992.

“It will be a change for me to come and race a full quarter-mile again,” he said.

“The NHRA switched to 1000-foot racing a few years ago. I hope that I don’t shut off early.”

The Winternationals continue over the long weekend.



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