Denver: Mopar Sunday elimination notes

MORRISON, Colo. (June 4, 2000) - Close, but no cigar. Three-time NHRA Winston Pro Stock World champion Darrell Alderman barely missed nabbing his 28th national event victory during Sunday's finals in the 22nd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High ...

MORRISON, Colo. (June 4, 2000) - Close, but no cigar.

Three-time NHRA Winston Pro Stock World champion Darrell Alderman barely missed nabbing his 28th national event victory during Sunday's finals in the 22nd annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway. No. 1 qualifier Kurt Johnson, who clicked off a 7.356-second elapsed time at 188.04 mph, nipped Alderman's 7.375/186.28.

"It's so hard to get to a final," said Alderman, after competing in his first final of the season. "When you lose, after being so close, it's tough.

"We had a great weekend though," Alderman continued. "The team has been working so hard and I wanted to win this for them and Team Mopar. I guess you have to get to a final before you can win one."

Alderman advanced after beating Brad Jeter in the semifinals. The Morehead, Ky., resident clocked a 7.354/186.43 and Jeter ran a 7.408/185.36. In round number two, Alderman upset Warren Johnson with a holeshot and a solid 7.325/188.86 combination. Johnson, the defending Pro Stock World Champion, was unable to catch Alderman with a 7.300/188.85 mph.

Dodge Motorsports ace Larry Morgan, who qualified a season-best third, lost to Jeter in the second round of eliminations. Jeter (7.410/185.54) grabbed an advantage at the start and Morgan (7.366/187.00) couldn't recover.

"I just lost concentration and it was my own fault," Morgan said. "I staged, but he just sat there and waited. It was frustrating because we could have won the race. We ran fairly well and had some good speeds."

Morgan (7.356/186.90) advanced to the second round when he defeated Rickie Smith (7.475/181.91) in the first round.

"We are really on the right track with the new Hemi engine," Morgan continued. "We have a new car on the way and we're making lots of horsepower. I know that car is quicker and I just can't wait to get it. I'm so happy for all of the Team Mopar and Dodge people on hand today. I'm proud of my teammates and this team."

Alderman's Team Mopar teammate Scott Geoffrion, driver of the second Nickens Brothers Racing Dodge Avenger, lost to eventual winner K. Johnson in round one. Johnson blistered the Colorado quarter mile with the low elapsed time of the weekend at 7.284-seconds and 189.07 mph. Geoffrion drove to a 7.427/185.77 combination.

"The left lane has been better all weekend," said Geoffrion, who ran in the right lane after losing lane choice in qualifying. "We just had a bad run.

"It was a good weekend because we made the show," Geoffrion continued. "We learned some things and made some changes. We learned what not to do in that situation. The Team Mopar Dodge Avengers are back in the mix again."

It was a disappointing first round for Dean Skuza, driver of the Matco Tools/Mopar Parts Nitro Funny Car, after losing on a holeshot to Houston national event winner Bob Gilbertson. Skuza's 5.113/305.56 combination wasn't enough to overcome Gilbertson's 5.1235/295.53 effort.

"We really left a lot on the table in retrospect," Skuza said. "All we really needed was two thousandths to win that round. He deep staged and I shallow staged because I was going for low elapsed time.

"It was too close to call," Skuza added. "I thought I had won. I made up so much ground on him in the last 200 feet. It's a rough way to lose, especially here in front of all the Mopar guys."

The NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series heads to suburban Seattle in two weeks for the Prolong Northwest Nationals at Seattle International Raceway in Kent, Wash.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Darrell Alderman , Brad Jeter , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Bob Gilbertson , Dean Skuza , Larry Morgan , Scott Geoffrion