Atlanta: Mopar Saturday notes

COMMERCE, Ga. (May 5, 2001) - Todd Patterson, driver of the Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T Pro Stock Truck entry, scored the second-quickest time of the third session to wrap up the sixth-qualifying position for tomorrow's Southern NHRA Nationals at...

COMMERCE, Ga. (May 5, 2001) - Todd Patterson, driver of the Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T Pro Stock Truck entry, scored the second-quickest time of the third session to wrap up the sixth-qualifying position for tomorrow's Southern NHRA Nationals at the Atlanta Dragway.

Patterson clocked a 7.529-second elapsed time at 179.04 mph, setting up a first-round match up with Mike Coughlin.

"First off, we knew we weren't going to be able to pick up a qualifying position due to the weather conditions, track temperature and the starting lanes going away," Patterson said. "So after the first run, we made a change to the truck that we wanted to make all weekend and went out very aggressive, but the starting line wouldn't hold it. That kind of gives us a gage of what the track is going to be like mid-day tomorrow and we won't go out as aggressive."

Looking to Revamp

Mopar Parts Dodge Dakota R/T Pro Stock Truck driver Dale Eaton and Dodge Motorsports R/T Pro Stock Truck racer Craig Eaton were looking to boost their respective positions, but failed to qualify on the second day of activity.

"We made great headway considering the weather and track conditions and we expect hot weather for the next two races." Craig Eaton said. "I think we finally got the right set up, but, it was just a little too late. We are going to have to go back home and get to work on our motor program."

Dale Eaton continued to speak about the team's preparation for future NHRA events.

"It wasn't the best weekend we've ever had because I had a lot of difficulty with my truck going down the track," Dale Eaton said. "Unfortunately we broke one of our best motors a couple of weeks ago and didn't get it quite back together, so this was our backup. We are going to ship both of our motors out Monday and we are going to get new manifolds. With any luck at all, we should be competitive for Topeka."

Osborne To Face Warren Johnson

The Hemi-powered Mopar Parts Dodge R/T of Mark Osborne grabbed the 12th-qualifying position for tomorrow's Southern Nationals at the Atlanta Dragway. Osborne, who made his best pass during the second session on Friday, drove to a 6.935-second elapsed time at 199.37 mph.

Osborne will face Pro Stock legend Warren Johnson in the first round of eliminations.

"We have to make room for improvements," said Osborne. "I think we could have a good day tomorrow. I also want to say I'm sorry for any problems I caused Darrell (Alderman) in yesterday's session. This team is real strong and have really supported me."

Osborne's teammate Alderman, who was eighth in the Winston Pro Stock points chase heading into this weekend's event, missed the best qualifying session after being timed out in yesterday's second round.

Despite the difficulties, the three-time Winston Pro Stock World Champion barely missed the field with a 6.956-second lap at 199.08 mph.

"We just didn't have a good fourth session," said Alderman, who run a 7.00-second pass in his fourth try. "We lost out on a great opportunity this weekend. We going to have to come together as a team - regroup - and get back to where we started earlier this year."

Skuza Slides In

Dean Skuza, driver the Mopar Parts Dodge R/T Nitro Funny Car, slid into the 15th position for tomorrow's eliminations. Skuza's 4.952-second lap at 301.40 mph earned the two-time national event winner a round one match up with Bruce Sarver.

"We're in the show," Skuza moted. "We finally detected the problem we have been having. We were about 2-percent weak.

"Historically, if we don't qualify well, we don't run well," Skuza added. "That's not the case now and we can win from anywhere."

Morgan Misses

It was a frustrating end to Larry Morgan's Atlanta weekend. The Dodge Motorsports R/T Pro Stock driver missed the show after posting a 6.971-second elapsed time at 197.54 mph.

"We just couldn't get down the track good enough," said Morgan. "We're going to test in Columbus (Ohio) during Roy Hill's Drag Racing School. We may have hurt all of our engines though. We're just going to have to get back at it."

Smith Qualifies Seventh

Rickie Smith, who will soon wield a semi-factory backed Mopar Parts-sponsored entry, took home the seventh-qualifying position and will take on Mark Pawuk in the first round of eliminations tomorrow.

Smith ran a 6.913-second lap at 199.70 mph.

"We're pretty happy with where we are," said Smith. "I think we'll have a good day, especially after running pretty well in Bristol (Tenn.) Team owner and teammate Kenny Koretsky failed to crack the top 16 with a 7.037-second lap at 196.42 mph.

"It was just too hot to really make a good run," Koretsky said. "I shifted the car right and everything seemed solid, but it wasn't quite enough."

-Mopar

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Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Dean Skuza , Larry Morgan , Todd Patterson , Mike Coughlin , Kenny Koretsky , Rickie Smith