Houston: Mopar Saturday Notes

BAYTOWN, Texas (March 24, 2001) - Darrell Alderman and the Hemi-powered Mopar Parts Dodge R/T Pro Stock machine drove to the fourth-qualifying position for tomorrow's NHRA national event at Houston Raceway Park. The three-time NHRA Winston Pro...

BAYTOWN, Texas (March 24, 2001) - Darrell Alderman and the Hemi-powered Mopar Parts Dodge R/T Pro Stock machine drove to the fourth-qualifying position for tomorrow's NHRA national event at Houston Raceway Park.

The three-time NHRA Winston Pro Stock World Champion moved into the fourth position with a career-best 6.850-second elapsed time at 200.65 mph. Alderman's run was also the quickest elapsed time of the third session.

"We spun the tires a little bit on that last run," said the 27-time NHRA national event winner. "The guys have this car running well. I'm real pleased with how consistent we run at this track. The Hemi engine has performed and the team has figured out the clutch."

Alderman will line up against Robert Patrick in the first round of eliminations. The 27-time national event winner has faced Patrick five times in his career with three round victories.

It wasn't a great weekend for Alderman's teammate Mark Osborne. The Abingdon, Va. resident missed his first national event of the season with 6.926-second lap at 200.62 mph. Osborne talks about the disappointment.

"It shook the tires right out of low gear," Osborne said. "We ran a good speed however. The car is just a little messed up right now. We're going to have to go back to square one and see what the problem is. Ready For Sunday

Dean Skuza, driver of the Mopar Parts Dodge R/T Nitro Funny Car, did not improve in the final two sessions of qualifying and wound up taking the ninth slot heading into Sunday's NHRA national event at Houston Raceway Park.

Despite moving around in the right lane, Skuza completed a solid 4.92-second effort during the fourth session. On Friday, the Brecksville, Ohio resident made his quickest run of the weekend when in his Dodge R/T with a 4.905-second elapsed time at 290.63 mph.

"We struggled a little with the lanes," noted Skuza, who made his final pass in the right lane. "We really moved around in the lane. I think it hampered our elapsed time. One thing we have established for the weekend is a bit of consistency."

Skuza will take on ninth-qualifier Tony Pedregon in round one.

Patterson Clutch
The pressure was on for Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T pilot Todd Patterson. The Pro Stock Truck veteran waited until the final session to qualify for tomorrow's NHRA national event at Houston Raceway Park.

Despite being on the outside looking in, the Augusta, Kan. native ripped off a 7.491-second lap at 178.71 mph. Patterson, in nabbing the 10th-qualifying slot, will face Jeff Naiser in round one.

"On that last run, we just hit the clutch perfectly," Patterson noted. "I shifted it right and the truck came through and got us in the field. Over the weekend, we backed off the starting line and decided to not be as aggressive. We kept shaking the tires and I think the left lane wasn't as good. We played with it for that last run and it worked."

Craig Eaton Strong
Craig Eaton wielded his Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T Pro Stock Truck mount to the 12th position to qualify for tomorrow's NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series national event at Houston Raceway Park.

Eaton ran a strong 7.496-second pass at 178.92 mph. The Phoenix, Ariz. native will take on fifth-qualifier Mike Corvo in a round one eliminator.

"We made a great run," said a happy Eaton. "We made as good of a run as we could have. The truck spun a little at the start, but really trucked through the quarter mile very well. I'm pretty excited about tomorrow.

"The key to our success has been all the engine work done by Rick Watters," Eaton added. "We're going to do a little more testing and even get more of the bugs worked out, but I think we're on the right track."

The Mopar Parts Dodge Dakota R/T of Dale Eaton missed the show with a 7.554/178.64 mph weekend best. Despite the frustration, Eaton is optimistic about the future.

"We hung it out a little on high gear, but it responded better on that last run," D. Eaton said. "If we had another two runs - we would be tough.

"We should be good for Las Vegas," Eaton continued. "We're definitely going to make some changes. This engine is going to be put onto the dyno when we get back to the shop. We're going to put in a different camshaft, similar to what Craig has been running. Vegas is going to be a little more challenging. You won't see the numbers you see around here, but we did pretty well there last year and we didn't have near the power that we have now."

Frustrating Weekend
The Hemi-powered Dodge Motorsports R/T Pro Stock machine of Larry Morgan barely missed qualifying for this weekend's NHRA national event at Houston Raceway Park.

Morgan was optimistic following his second qualifying session, despite sheering fifth gear. But excessive tire shake and clutch problems prevented the Newark, Ohio driver from cracking the top 16. Morgan secured a weekend best 6.913-second pass at 199.40 mph.

"We just shook the tires," said a frustrated Morgan. "We were down to our last set of tires, and had to put them on. I thought it ran pretty good to the 60-foot mark. We just overpowered the track and put way too much clutch in it. It just wasn't our day.

"We ran pretty well last night," said Morgan, who shattered fifth gear during the second-qualifying session. "We should have qualified fourth or fifth. It was just bad luck, and there really isn't anything we could have done about it."

Tough Weekend for Team Koretsky
Team Koretsky suffered through a sub-par weekend at Houston Raceway Park with drivers Rickie Smith and Kenny Koretsky. The semi-factory backed Mopar Parts Pro Stock program failed to make the show.

The Hemi-powered Dodge R/T of Smith was off its game with a best time of 6.915-seconds at 198.93 mph. The King, N.C. resident was quite disappointed.

"I don't know what we can do," said a dejected Smith. "I would hate to blame it on the power or the car. It's just not running. We made nice, clean runs, but they were just too slow."

Koretsky, who also owns the team, also missed the show. The future Mopar driver ran a 6.934/198.61 weekend best.

"We were just short one run," Koretsky commented. "We were getting close on the clutch there at the end. We lost those first three runs with clutch troubles, and that really hurt us. We'll just have to get them at the next race."

_Mopar

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Series NHRA
Drivers Robert Patrick , Darrell Alderman , Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , Larry Morgan , Todd Patterson , Kenny Koretsky , Rickie Smith