Billy Harper Rockingham race notes

Harper goes to Elimination Rounds at the Rock. ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (October 22, 2002) - Drag racing continues to be the fastest growing form of motorsports in the United States, and this weekend's International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Carquest...

Harper goes to Elimination Rounds at the Rock.

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (October 22, 2002) - Drag racing continues to be the fastest growing form of motorsports in the United States, and this weekend's International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Carquest Auto Parts World Finals was proof positive. Billy Harper, along with 49 of his Pro Modified friends, arrived at Rockingham (N.C.) Dragway on Friday to begin the weekend's battle.

With 50 cars vying for 16 spots, Harper and his team felt the pressure heading into the first round of qualifying on Friday afternoon. The 2000 Dodge Viper lined up in the right lane for the pass and was quick off the line. Despite a near sideways trip down the quarter-mile strip, Harper managed to clock in a time of 7.308 seconds, placing him 32nd on the grid. Unfortunately, the team's second pass was worse than the first and once the second round of qualifying completed, Harper had fallen to the 43rd position.

Harper improved his time in the first round of qualifying on Saturday with a 6.534-second run - unfortunately, his competitors continued to improve as well. Heading into the fourth and final round of qualifying, Harper was 44th on the grid - 28 positions out of the final field.

Finally on round four, Billy Harper kicked it in gear and put his 2000 Dodge Viper to the test. Redemption came with a 6.277-second run at a speed of 219 miles per hour. The pass improved Harper's position by 33 spots placing him 11th on the rundown following the final round of qualifying. After four nail-biting qualifying sessions, Harper and his team once again put themselves into the elimination rounds.

When Harper approached the line for the first round of elminations, he saw the familiar face of Troy Critchley in the next lane. Harper and Critchley had paired in the first round of eliminations at Norwalk (Ohio) in August of this year. Critchley beat Harper in that dual and Harper was hoping to win this time around. Unfortunately, in a move uncharacteristic of Harper, the 2000 Dodge Viper left the starting line a mere .003 seconds prior to the green light. With the too quick start Harper was automatically disqualified allowing Critchley to advance.

Despite the bump in the first round of eliminations, Harper was positive about the weekend. "You can't be too upset when you make it to the elimination rounds in a weekend with 50 cars," explained Harper. "This team never gives up on me. They give me the best machine and then it's really up to me once the event rolls around. I know they [the crew] had hoped to go to the finals, but we just came up a bit short."

This past weekend marked the last event on the Billy Harper Motorsports 2002 race schedule. The Dodge Viper, which competed on a limited basis in both NHRA and IHRA events in 2002, ran competitively all year. The team not only competed in several events, but also perhaps more importantly, continued to experiment with the power cell of the 2000 Dodge Viper. Billy Harper Motorsports unveiled a new motor this past June at the Gateway (Ill.) International Raceway event. Team Manager Bubba Kolb was pleased with the new motor power and hopes to capitalize on the additional power in 2003.

"Gateway was the first weekend with the new motor and we had to work out a few kinks," explained Kolb. "We made it to the final eight in each of the last four events [prior to this weekend's event]. That's not bad for a team that runs part time with a brand new motor under the hood. This Dodge Viper will pay dividends next year - you can count on it."

-bhm-

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Series Drag
Drivers Troy Critchley