Past NHRA Top Fuel championship runner-up and fan favorite Cory McClenathan will make his first appearance in nearly three years on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series when he competes in Dexter Tuttle’s ColorFast dragster at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex.
McClenathan, a 35-time NHRA national event Top Fuel winner who finished in second place in the standings four times and logged 18 Top 10 finishes in his 20-plus-year nitro career, has not competed on the series since the season finale in Pomona in 2015, but is eager to get back into action to reconnect with his racing friends and fans.
“I was very excited when I got the call from Dexter that he wanted to go run the Mello Yello race,” said McClenathan. “I’m glad to get a chance to come back out and race with my friends and see the fans. I’ve really missed them all.
“It's just exciting to me to be able to come back out and try to get qualified and compete against all of those drivers and the new kids that I've never raced against.”
McClenathan and Tuttle have been competing this year in the indepedent Nitro Outlaws series, an four-race regional series geared at smaller nitro teams. McClenathan is currently leading the Outlaws points standings, and with that series’ finale taking place at Texas Motorplex one week after the FallNationals, McClenathan’s return will also allow the team to gather data in advance of the last race.
“We’re really hoping to accomplish two things at one event,” said McClenathan. “Obviously, we would love to get back to racing on the Mello Yello schedule, so getting back out there, getting my face and our car in front of everyone and letting them know we’re serious about racing, is a step towards that, plus we can get some good track data for the following weekend.”
Because the Nitro Outlaws series allows only a maximum of 80 percent nitromethane – compared to a maximum of 90 percent in the Mello Yello Series – and because Tuttle and McClenathan are using the event as a dual-purpose race and test, they will most likely run the 80-percent combination early in qualifying and adjust as necessary.
“We’ve got a great combination at 80 percent where we’re running quick, winning races, and not really hurting anything, but if I know Dexter, and he needs to push up the percentage, I’m pretty sure he’ll do that,” said McClenathan.
In addition to backing from ColorFast, a Texas-based tile-grout company that Tuttle owns, the team will receive support from Revchem Composites, Interceramic USA, IBEW Local 47, and Nut Up Industries, Inc.
Revchem’s association with McClenathan is a result of his racing in the Lucas Oil Off-road Series, where he competes in trucks on a regional basis. Once he became involved in that series to fill his competitive need, he became partners with Dave and Cory Winner in Race Glass Inc., a company that makes fiberglass bodies for the off-road vehicles.
If the Dallas weekend goes well, NHRA fans could well see McClenathan and Tuttle again before the end of the season
“I'm working on some things; I just haven't got it done yet,” he said. “We're always trying to put together something to get the money that it takes to come out and be competitive. We’ve seen a lot of one-car teams go out there and do really well this year against the big teams, so we’re excited to get in there and mix it up with them. We know we won't be low e.t., but we'll definitely be in there to give the guys a run if they slip up at all.”