The Chicken Choker Chronicles: Early
By Len Cottrell
Len Cottrell has been sending updates on his and Tim Slagle's Chicken Chokers Federal Mogul Dragster team this year as they chase NHRA Division 1 fame and glory. Len allowed us to pull together his event highlights so far, and he'll provide us periodic updates as the season goes on. Here's the story so far...
The Chokers at Bristol
Basically, the good outweighed the bad this weekend. We ran our all time best this weekend, 5.58, and did not hurt any parts. Even put the same rod bearings back in for the next run! This was also the highest altitude track we race at, 1,500 ft. The bad news is that in the second round the car shook and broke the steering shaft in second gear. Tim was not able to correct the car from hitting the right side barrier. The good news is that the car suffered very little damage and we will be ready for Englishtown in two weeks. The good news is the slowest run we made (except for the crash) was a 5.64. Hurry up, Englishtown!
The Chokers at E-town
The weekend included gremlins, missed opportunities, and some decent performance.
5.76 at 215 mph was our best qualifying run with a problem that plagued us until first round. The tach is used for rpm on the starting line only and Tim thought he was leaving at 6,000 rpm while in fact it was only 4,000 rpm. The onboard computer did not function until the last qualifying shot and that is when we discovered the faulty tach.
First round of eliminations was now 45 minutes away, so without a baseline, I fixed the problem by putting duct tape over the tach and told Tim to drive by ear. He left at 5,500 and we won 1st round with a 5.63 at 248 mph! Did not hurt a single part and put the same bearing back in.
We showed up Sunday for the finals and drew the number one qualifier, Art Gallant. He ran a 5.76 at 242 mph, and we had an opportunity to advance. Tim had .08 advantage off the line, but we also had a broken spark plug in number 6 and lost trying to run on seven cylinders, at 6.17 at 230 mph!
Overall, not a bad weekend. Came home with all of our parts intact and we are ready for Maple Grove this weekend.
The Chokers at Maple Grove
Lots of rain, did not win, did not lose...
We arrived at the 'Grove on Friday night with 13 other FMD entries. We had one great 4-hour poker game on Saturday while it rained all day. Then Sunday it rained until 4 p.m., after which we made our first qualifying pass. We qualified #2 at 5.69 behind NHRA Supernationals winner Cliff Bozzelli's 5.62.
On Monday we sat out the final qualifying session and still remained #2 at the end. We were tied with Steve Cantrell for Division 1 points, but he failed to qualify so that moved us up to #1 in points.
We then watched it rain until we started 1st round at 3:30 in the afternoon. Our opponent red lighted, which moved us to semi finals. We drew #3 qualifier Billy Gibson who was driving last year's Division 1 champion entry, formerly driven by Jeannie Booz and still tuned by Bill Barrett. We ran our second best ever ET at 5.60 @ 249 mph to advance to the finals to meet Bozzelli where we had lane choice.
It was late in the day at this point and the track had a curfew to meet. The officials decided to compete the finals during a qualifying session to be determined in the future. So we did not win, but we did not lose... We are now on track and locked onto number one in the points race! Next stop is Delmar, Delaware, in two weeks.
The Chokers at Delmar
Good qualifying performance, bad first round!
Our game plan was to make one qualifying run on Friday evening. If it was good, we would save it, as this track can get loose at times. Note: last years # 1 qualifying time was 5.87. We were the first alcohol car to go down the track and Tim ran it until he passed the scoreboards (that display the ET & speed) and pulled the parachutes and ran a 5.77 at 217 mph. The quarter mile is 1320 ft and the scoreboards were at the 1000 ft mark which is why only 217 mph! As it turned out the quickest remaining car, Cliff Bozzelli, also ran 5.77 at 245 mph. Cliff is going to be our strongest challenger this year in our quest for the Division 1 championship. We passed on the next qualifying run and watched Bozzelli improve with a 5.68 in the cooler night air. We remained # 2 qualifier (with more ET reserve in the bank).
All of this seemed like a great plan but when we ran the first round the next day, we flooded the engine as the opponent did his burnout. By the time we backed the engine down and finally started it, Tim could only do a short burnout to stage the car. When it left the line, it shook and smoked the tires and Tim had to abort the run.
We had to settle for loading up the car, rounding up the crew and heading for
"Secrets Bar & Grill" in Ocean City... Next stop, Atco, NJ, in two weeks.
Note: The Delmar race will be covered on ESPN2 tonight, June 14, at 7:30 to 8:00 p.m.
The Chokers will provide spice at Atco!
Just to make the Atco race more interesting, Cliff Bozzelli and I have agreed to have our final round duel from the Maple Grove final settled during the 1st qualifying run at Atco, NJ, in two weeks.