Paton Runs Career-Best In Qualifying
November 12, 2011 – Paton Racing
Todd Paton and his family’s Tim Horton’s-backed dragster turned in a great performance at this weekend’s season-ending Auto Club Finals.
Todd entered the event with a career-best 4.00, with his sights set on qualifying for the tough 16-car field and getting that elusive 3-second time slip.
On his first attempt Thursday, Paton slowed early to a 4.27 and only 204 mph. “That was a bit of driver error there,” Paton remarked after the run. “Jimbo [crew chief Jimbo Ermalovich] said to grab the brake if I felt the car needed it, and obviously it didn’t need it. The additional load caused the motor to work too hard and it puched a head gasket out about 2 seconds into the run, resulting in a small fire.”
On Friday, the team came back strong, and Todd turned in a respectable 3.949 at 294 mph, accomplishing one of his goals. The run left the team in 17th position going into Saturday’s final qualifying session.
On that third attempt, the car again launched hard with the wheels in the air, but began to shake violently as the engine “dropped” a cylinder just past the starting line. This left the team with one final session to get in the field. With threatening skies, the team prepared the car for the fourth and final session, but it was not to be. As the team sat in the staging lanes, mere minutes away from making their run, the rain began to fall, cancelling the final session, and setting the field for Sunday’s eliminations.
“I really feel bad for the crew and my dad. I got to drive a very fast race car because of them this weekend, and despite their best efforts, we missed the show,” a slightly dejected Paton said upon returning to the pit area. “Still, we have nothing to hang our heads about. The car ran well, I got to feel what a 3-second run is really like and I know we could’ve run well enough to get in the show if we’d had the opportunity to make that last run.