Mopar Speed newsletter 2004-02-20

Mopar Speed Friday, February 20, 2004 NHRA Pro Stock Shaun Carlson piloting Team Mopar Pro Stocker at Pomona Shaun Carlson, tuner icon and Team Mopar NHRA Summit Sport Compact Drag Racing Series driver, is set to drive a Pro Stock Mopar in...

Mopar Speed
Friday, February 20, 2004

NHRA Pro Stock

Shaun Carlson piloting Team Mopar Pro Stocker at Pomona

Shaun Carlson, tuner icon and Team Mopar NHRA Summit Sport Compact Drag Racing Series driver, is set to drive a Pro Stock Mopar in the season-opening NHRA Winternationals which began yesterday in Pomona, Calif.

Carlson is piloting a Mopar Dodge Stratus R/T for Johnson & Johnson Racing (J & J). The regular driver, three-time POWERade Pro Stock champion Darrell Alderman, requires additional rest due to an off-season, work-related injury.

"It's an honor to fill in for DA, who's been known for many years as a great Mopar driver," Carlson said. "My sponsor Mopar needed help in this situation, and I'm more than happy to do what I can to help out wherever I can."

Earlier this week, Carlson tested with J & J in Las Vegas under the supervision of driver and co-owner Allen Johnson.

"To be taught by Allen Johnson has been an honor, too," Carlson said. "He's someone who has been in the Mopar camp for so long and knows so much about Pro Stock racing."

"Shaun is a natural," Johnson said after testing concluded. "He's made some really nice burnouts and good launches. He continued to get a little smoother and quicker every run. We're looking forward to seeing what he can do in competition. There aren't a lot of people who get to drive a Pro Stock car, and I know it's a dream come true for Shaun.

"It's unfortunate that DA can't be here for the first event," Johnson said. "But it's a great opportunity for Shaun. He really gets along well with the team, and he's got a lot of other talents besides driving that he's contributed."

After Pomona, Carlson plans to get right back to working on his Mopar Dodge SRT-4 that competes in the Pro FWD class of the Summit Sport Compact series.

"We've been thrashing real hard on our SRT-4 all winter," Carlson said. "I'm definitely looking forward to our first Sport Compact event in March at California Speedway."

Carlson turned in an impressive pass at 6.872 @ 201.82 mph late yesterday in Round One of qualifying.

You can catch the NHRA drag racing action on television this weekend. Qualifying is scheduled to air on ESPN2 on Saturday from 10 p.m. to midnight; Eliminations are scheduled Sunday on ESPN2 from 10 p.m. to midnight. All times are Eastern.

Team Mopar Sport Compact star Shaun Carlson has a chance to try his skills at rear-wheel-drive drag racing this week at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway.

In Round One of qualifying yesterday, Carlson ran a very respectable 6.872 at 201.82 mph, his fastest pass yet in a Pro Stock car.

So how different is the driving experience from his regular Dodge SRT-4 drag car?

"The front-wheel-drive feels a little more impressive on the top end because of the turbo," Carlson said.

"But these rear-wheel-drive cars really bite on the bottom end! The best 60-foot times I've ever run in FWD are 1.27s. The first time I let the clutch out in Darrell's car, it was a 1.02. It was definitely a kick in the pants. It blurred my vision!"

"I'm not naive enough to think that I'm going to set any records or qualify in the top-five," Carlson commented on his role as a substitute driver.

"But I do think that I can give some valuable feedback to this team that will help them prepare for Phoenix and the rest of the season."

In the first round of qualifying yesterday evening at Pomona, Larry Morgan (above) turned in an impressive 6.765 at 204.05 mph. He currently ranks second in the standings. Three more rounds of qualifying await before Eliminations begin Sunday.

Read all about the Winternationals results Monday in Mopar Speed.

You can also catch the NHRA drag racing action on television this weekend. Qualifying is scheduled to air on ESPN2 on Saturday from 10 p.m. to midnight; Eliminations are scheduled Sunday on ESPN2 from 10 p.m. to midnight. All times are Eastern.

Mopar Pro Stock teams look to etch their mark on 2004

The 2004 season has brought with it the winds of change for Team Mopar, and the brand's NHRA Pro Stock efforts are no exception. Larry Morgan Racing (LMR) and Johnson & Johnson Racing have committed themselves to winning the 2004 NHRA POWERade Pro Stock championship, and both teams have taken big steps to ensure their success.

Larry Morgan Racing

Larry Morgan, owner and driver of the Mopar-sponsored Dodge Stratus R/T, looks to build on the momentum that carried his team to an outstanding late-season run in 2003. Making a 180-degree turnaround in performance and finishing 11th in points overall, Morgan and company posted one runner-up and three semifinal finishes in the latter half of the 2003 season to re-establish themselves as serious contenders.

"Stepping up to the new season coming off of our strong second half last year is very exciting," Morgan said. "We've been itching to get started. We definitely plan to continue the hard charging trend we started. We want to keep it all season, though."

The roots of LMR's aggressive agenda stem largely from the addition of the 10-time Pro Stock champion Bob Glidden, who came on board to crew chief for Morgan mid-season in 2003. Glidden's presence proved to be the spark that ignited the LMR fire, and the team's 2004 effort should reflect Glidden's presence from start to finish.

In addition to attempting to add to the impressive 101 national event victories that Morgan and Glidden have amassed between them, the team has streamlined their racing efforts, trimming the two-car team down to one for 2004. Morgan welcomes the move.

"We're definitely going to be a lot better with just one car," Morgan said. "We'll be able to concentrate more on making that single car the absolute best it can be."

Morgan and his teammates have their sights set on winning the coveted Pro Stock championship in 2004, despite the admittedly fierce competition that they face.

"It's awesome to be a part of the Mopar program and help Dodge develop parts to compete in this POWERade Pro Stock class," Morgan said. "It's the toughest class in the NHRA, and in all of racing as far as I'm concerned."

Johnson & Johnson Racing

Johnson & Johnson Racing, the other Pro Stock team that proudly boasts the Mopar colors, isn't about to give Morgan the title without a fight.

During the off-season Johnson & Johnson stepped up their program in several ways. The team added approximately 4000 sq. ft. to their Greeneville, Tenn., shop, adding a new dyno and other technology to their arsenal. They also added a new engine shop in North Carolina, the heart of NASCAR country.

"This year we've added more to our R&D program," said co-owner/engine builder Roy Johnson. "We've made some in-house adjustments trying to find horsepower. That's what we've got to do to stay in the hunt."

The team isn't relying solely on their technological updates to earn them the title; they've also added personnel to strengthen the program. Tuning expert Scott DeYoung, who brings several years of NASCAR and NHRA experience to the team, was brought into the mix to provide the team with another avenue in their pursuit for speed.

"We're stepping up everything to try to be number one and win this championship for Mopar," said co-owner/driver Allen Johnson. "We're spending more money, hiring more people, and we've got a new shop. We're doing everything we can to put Mopar in the number one spot."

Excited about their expanded resources and efforts for the 2004 racing season, the two-car team of Johnson & Johnson Racing is ready for the season opener at Pomona Raceway, Feb. 19-22. The team is prepared to begin their pursuit of the series title, while at the same time they're already focused on how they can make their program stronger.

"Everybody is working day and night to try to improve these parts and pieces and to give Mopar engineers the feedback they need to improve their blocks and cylinder heads," Johnson said. "That's gonna help us and their customers."

Last season, Allen Johnson finished a career-best sixth in the point standings.

Darrell Alderman, driver of the second Dodge Stratus R/T for Johnson & Johnson, is no stranger to championships, as he won the 1990, 1991 and 1994 Pro Stock driver championships with Dodge. Alderman's experience should prove priceless, and he has plans to return to championship form and give his Mopar teammates and the rest of the Pro Stock field a run for its money.

As the Christmas Tree lights drop from red to green this weekend in Pomona signifying the start of the 2004 season, keep your eyes on the Team Mopar Pro Stock teams, because they are geared up and ready to compete for the crown.

Hemi Oakley Dodge debuts in Funny Car competition

Team Mopar and Schumacher Racing premiered the gorgeous new Hemi Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car in competition yesterday at the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif. The car represents the strengthened relationship that Mopar has assembled with Schumacher Racing, which includes vehicle graphics, corporate hospitality and more.

Gary Scelzi, the popular three-time Top Fuel champion, will conduct his quest for a Funny Car title this season in a Dodge-bodied nitro beast wearing impressive graphics of a cartoonish Hemi® engine and the Oakley Mad Scientist.

The Hemi-based engine inside the car helped make Scelzi the proud owner of the five all-time fastest Funny Car speeds, including a 328.38 mph pass at Pomona last November. He currently holds the record at 329.18 mph, which he set last fall at Route 66 Raceway driving the Oakley Time Bomb Stratus.

Is 330 in the cards for 2004?

"I don't see any problem with reaching the 330 mark," Scelzi said. "With a little bit of the refined combination that we've worked on over the winter, as soon as the conditions warrant it, I think we're going to be one of the first, if not the first, to do it. I know the other manufacturers are working extremely hard trying to catch this Mopar now, which speaks volumes for our program."

Scelzi's entire team has worked hard to build a championship machine for 2004, not just one that can post fast speeds.

"We've made our combination more consistent," Scelzi said. "We've tried to make it where it not only runs the big speeds, but runs the quick E.T.s as well. Big speeds make the crowd go 'ahh', but it's the E.T. that wins the race. We've refined our combination not to make it so sensitive to either setting the world record or smoking the tires."

Scelzi drove to a sixth-place finish last season behind the strength of one win. With this new combination, the team hopes to improve greatly upon its 2003 performance.

"I'm not one to have a lot of patience," Scelzi said. "I wanted to win the world championship last year, and we're more motivated to do it this year."

How appropriate would a 2004 championship be for the new Hemi Oakley Stratus R/T?

"The 426 Hemi is really a drag race engine," Scelzi said. "Every single Top Fuel car and Funny Car that's competitive runs a replica of the 426. They may run different types of bodies, but they're all 426 Chrysler replicas. The Hemi was light-years ahead of its time. Obviously that's true, because we're still running it today."

The legendary 426 Hemi engine was installed in production Dodge, Chrysler and Plymouth vehicles between 1966 and 1971.

Whit Bazemore, who drives the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus on the other side of the Schumacher Funny Car stable, will also feature prominent Mopar sponsor graphics on his vehicle in 2004. At the 2003 Mopar Mile-High Nationals, Bazemore drove the dazzling "Bling bling" Mopar Dodge Stratus. Bazemore charged to an impressive second-place finish in last year's standings, so Mopar's 1-2 Funny Car punch should prove to be fierce indeed.

Gary Scelzi's new Funny Car has definitely got a Hemi!

Look for Scelzi to challenge the 330 mph mark this season. Last year he set the current Funny Car speed record at 329.18 mph.

Scelzi also holds the next four fastest speeds, all recorded last season in his Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car from Don Schumacher Racing.

Scelzi's Round One pass yesterday at Pomona was hindered by poor traction, but three more qualifying attempts await.

-mopar-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Darrell Alderman , Whit Bazemore , Gary Scelzi , Larry Morgan , Bob Glidden , Allen Johnson , Don Schumacher , Shaun Carlson , Roy Johnson