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5.0 Mustang
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4/30/00 - Season opens with major disappointment

The 2000 did not begin at all like we had hoped.

After a solid opening qualifying run of 11.51 @ 117 m.p.h., the wheels just began to fall off what might have been a great day.

In our second qualifying run, I was ordered by the tree operator to shut down. He was looking under the front of the car. I didn't know what the heck he was looking at, so I shut the car off and several track employees pushed me back behind the bleachboxes.

I got out and looked under the car - oil.

Indeed, the dipstick-tube had come loose from the oil pan and a small trickle of oil was dripping on the ground. Humiliated I drove back to the pits.

After remedying the oil leak, I returned for another qualifying run. This time I made it to the starting line with no oil drips. I had what I felt to be a nice run going.

As I looked at the tachometer, preparing to shift the Falcon into high-gear, I see something fly out from the back of the car in the rear-view. Being the over-cautious person that I am, I backed off the gas and coasted through the traps. I didn't even bother to get my  E.T. slip. A wasted time trial.

Back at the pits, neither Dad or I could see anything "missing" from the car that may explain what I saw tumbling across the track.

It was moments before eliminations began and I had only one qualifying pass under my belt. I dialed in at an 11.55 and hoped for the best.

As I approached the line for my first elimination run, again the tree operator looks under my car and tells me to shut down! I couldn't believe it. Was it oil again? No. It was water, dripping, ever-so-slowly, off the inside-bottom of the engine compartment. It had collected there when I was spraying the radiator off to get the water temperature down before running. I was disqualified.

Needless to say, it was a terribly disappointing day. On the way home, Dad told me some stories about bad days he had as a driver. It helped me feel a little better. And I will never, ever not check for that water collecting around the motor again.

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