Las Vegas: Team Mopar Friday qualifying notes

BAYTOWN, Texas (March 23, 2001) - The Hemi-powered Mopar Parts Dodge R/T Pro Stock entry of Darrell Alderman blistered the Houston Raceway Park quarter mile to capture the fourth position during qualifying for this weekend's NHRA national ...

BAYTOWN, Texas (March 23, 2001) - The Hemi-powered Mopar Parts Dodge R/T Pro Stock entry of Darrell Alderman blistered the Houston Raceway Park quarter mile to capture the fourth position during qualifying for this weekend's NHRA national event.

The three-time Winston Pro Stock World Champion was 11th following the first session, but vaulted through the field with a 6.862-second elapsed time at 200.17 mph. Alderman was liked the effort.

"We're pleased with it," Alderman said. "I believe we're going to be able to milk a little more out of it. The barometer and humidity was a little high and I think that got us. We think there is a little more left in it.

"You've got to be consistent to win," said Alderman, a 27-time NHRA national event winner. "This team just keeps getting better."

Various problems befell the Mopar Parts Dodge R/T of Mark Osborne on day number one. The Abingdon, Va. driver, who qualified a season-best ninth during the rain-delayed Gatornationals at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway last weekend, clocked a 6.929/199.64 mph combination. The run left Osborne outside the top 16.

"We're not looking too good right now," Osborne noted. "We've got a problem and we just don't where it's at. If it's in the motor, we're going to tear it all down and see what's wrong. We're going to change some clutch discs, and possibly the engine. We don't know yet."

Skuza Grabs Seventh

Dean Skuza clicked his Mopar Parts Dodge R/T Nitro Funny Car early, yet drove to the seventh-qualifying position after the first day of action at Friday's NHRA national event at Houston Raceway Park.

The Brecksville, Ohio resident, who also shut it off early after getting out of the groove in the first session, ran to a 4.905-second elapsed time at 290.63 mph. Co-crew chief and engine builder Lance Larsen talks about the run.

"We didn't change a thing from round one to round two," said the long-time Skuza Motorsports wrench. "We were going on the conservative side of things on our first run. We just wanted to set a solid baseline and get it in the show. We going to go for the pole tomorrow."

Skuza is trying to equal his pole-sitting effort at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Ariz. and better his impressive third at Gainesville Raceway last weekend.

Craig Eaton Solid

Craig Eaton and the Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T Pro Stock Truck machine grabbed the ninth-qualifying position in preliminary activity of the NHRA national event at Houston Raceway Park.

Eaton, who also qualified for his first national event of the season during the Gatornationals, drove to a 7.503-second elapsed time at 178.26 mph. Eaton clocked the better run in the left lane.

"We made a good pass," said the Phoenix, Ariz. resident. "It was an especially good run because the left lane was just so bumpy. We didn't have to change anything from the first session. We spun the tires on that first run and that killed us."

The Mopar Parts Dodge Dakota R/T of Dale Eaton didn't fair as well. Despite making a smooth run, the elder Eaton managed a 7.562/177.58 mph combination and failed to make the show.

"I had a very good, slow run," said D. Eaton. "I couldn't have done much different to make it any faster. We have a gremlin somewhere. I should have run a quick as Craig because I've got enough steam to do it.

"We've gotten away from our baseline," D. Eaton added. "We're going to change everything back to where it was before and hope it works. There just wasn't anything left in the run."

Morgan Shatters Fifth Gear

Larry Morgan and the Hemi-powered Dodge Motorsports R/T Pro Stock machine missed the show after round one of Houston Raceway Park qualifying when fifth gear shattered during the second session.

The eight-time NHRA national event winner made a solid pass after one session, clocking a 6.915-second lap at 200.20 mph.

"I could have run a 6.85," said a dejected Morgan. "When I went to grab fifth gear, it just went to the rev limiter and that was it."

Patterson Experiences Transmission Woes

Todd Patterson, driver of the Magnum P-5-powered Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T Pro Stock Truck entry, suffered transmission troubles during the fourth session and missed the cut during the first day of qualifying at Houston Raceway Park.

Patterson, who hails from Augusta, Kan., was in the top 16 heading into the second session with a 7.569-second pass at 177.70 mph. Unfortunately for Patterson, the second session proved to be much quicker as nightfall approached.

"The run started out a killer," Patterson noted. "We were eighth quickest at 60-foot, which was the first time we had been in the top eight in a long time. It looked to be on a nice run, but when I pulled fourth gear, it jumped out of gear. It was basically over.

"We've got to go out tomorrow and repeat that run," Patterson continued. "We think the morning session will be quicker. At least we received some data and the clutch seemed in line. If we complete a run and get it through all five gears - we'll be all right. We have to fix the transmission and 16 valve springs - and then we'll go again."

Less Than Perfect Results

Rickie Smith and his semi-factory backed Dodge R/T Pro Stocker missed the top 16 after the first two sessions of qualifying at Houston Raceway Park on Friday.

The King, N.C. resident maneuvered his Hemi-powered entry to a 6.915-second lap at 198.93 mph. Despite a nice ride, the car wasn't quick enough.

"We made a picture perfect run," Smith commented. "David (Nickens) is going to bring some headers over here for us to try tomorrow. That run we made tonight was about as perfect as you want to draw on the screen. We don't know if that motor is down because we put 12-13 runs on it in testing. I don't know if the motor is going away or what. We'll just have to see tomorrow."

Future Mopar Parts NHRA competitor Kenny Koretsky failed to qualify his Team Koretsky mount after posting a 7.115-second run at 163.97 mph. The Richboro, Pa., resident talked about his second run.

"We made a perfect run until half track," Koretsky noted. "Then it blew the tires off and got out of the groove. The short numbers were real good. So we'll go back to the drawing board tomorrow."

Crew chief Eddie Ganoche looked towards Saturday.

"We're going to take a look at a couple of things in the back of the car," Ganoche said. "We might try something with the wing. Basically, Kenny's numbers were as good as Rickie's. We ran Jeg (Coughlin) on that run and we had similar numbers. Despite running that number, it won't be good enough to get us in."

-Mopar-

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