McClenathan has three races left in career before 2019 retirement

By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher

Long-time racer Cory McClenathan announced on Monday that he has three races left in his career. Following the conclusion of the 2019 season, McClenathan will retire from the sport.

He will compete in the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas, Oct. 17-20. He’ll also compete in the Dodge NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil, Oct. 31-Nov. 3 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Long-time Top Fuel Dragster pilot Cory McClenathan tribute after announcing his retirement
Cory McClenathan tribute after announcing his retirement (Photo by the NHRA)

The final race of his career will be at the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Nov. 14-17 in Pomona, California.

McClenathan will be driving Dexter Tuttle’s Top Fuel Dragster. The team will be sponsored by Nordic Boats, RevChem Composites, ColorFast, and Lucas Oil, while Larry Minor will also fund it.

“It’s actually painful to say, ‘Hey it’s time to retire,’ but at the same time, I’m 56-years-old and I’ve had a really good career,” he said to “I’ve been blessed. I was just in the right place at the right time, and I got to work with, race against, and know some of the greats. I got to race Don Garlits and Shirley Muldowney, and competed for championships against guys like Joe Amato, Kenny Bernstein, Don Prudhomme, Tom McEwen, Eddie Hill, Larry Dixon, Gary Scelzi, and my good friend Scott Kalitta.

“It was just such a strong category back in that day and I was right in the thick of things during that whole time.”

McClenathan has 34 career wins in the category, including two U.S. Nationals wins in 1996 and 1999. He last competed full-time in the sport in 2010 with Don Schumacher Racing.

“I just want them to know how much I appreciate everything through the years that everybody has done for me,” he said. “The way [NHRA founder] Wally Parks treated me when I was coming, up he was just so inspirational. NHRA, Winston back then and now Coca-Cola and everything they’ve done and are doing for the sport to make it thrive and keep thriving and getting bigger and bigger again.

“Also, I want to thank my racer friends and competitors. When I was coming up I was I was really looking for guidance, guys like Kenny Bernstein and Ed McCulloch along the way people who I could really go to and say, ‘What do I do when it does this?’ Those are the moments that I really look back now and I really cherish. Guys like Larry Minor and Joe Gibbs who really gave me my start and, most of all, the fans. They really had my back, and still do. I’ve really been blessed.”

He regrets not winning a championship.

“The biggest regrets, of course, are not winning a championship – bridesmaid four times – and not catching Garlits with a 35th win,” he admitted. “But I’ll tell you, you can bet your butt I’ll be trying to find the winner’s circle one way or another at these last three races.

“We’re going to give it all we can and come out and try to break some hearts. I’m really looking forward to it. I really am. I’m excited. Dexter has been spending money to upgrade the car with injectors and blowers and just everything that we have to go out and lay down some good times and have a shot of going some rounds, and has hired Doug Kuch as his co-crew chief, along with Tony Shortall. I don’t want to mess up anybody’s points stuff but when the car starts up I want to win. Period.”

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