Pomona III: Mopar Funny Car preview

Dodge Stratus R/T Nitro Funny Car Update: The New Body POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 7, 2001) - Mopar Parts driver Dean Skuza is heading into this weekend's 37th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Nationals at Pomona Raceway with one...

Dodge Stratus R/T Nitro Funny Car Update: The New Body

POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 7, 2001) - Mopar Parts driver Dean Skuza is heading into this weekend's 37th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Nationals at Pomona Raceway with one eye firmly placed on 2002.

Armed with a new Mopar Parts-sponsored Dodge Stratus R/T Nitro Funny Car body for the season-opening 2002 NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Skuza can't wait to get started on next year's Funny Car title chase.

"We'll have a body that will allow us to compete for a NHRA championship," said Skuza, who has one final round appearance this season (Gainesville, Fla.). "The new body that Mopar engineers have designed, along with Roush Industries, will revolutionize how we design and develop Funny Car bodies in the future. We want to be able to compete week in and week out for national event titles. We haven't been able to do that this year, and a lot of that has to do with how old our R/T body is.

"When you look at it, even though we've tweaked it over the years, our body was state-of-the art in 1992," Skuza added. "And we've been competitive with that handicap. We have all the tools to be real contenders next season. If you look at it closely, we're the only exclusively single-car operation that will finish in the top 10 in points. It shows what kind of team that we have.

"All of those other teams have an advantage now," Skuza continued. "There have been many, many times this season when our body cost us a round of competition. You have these well-funded teams out there, with all their new equipment and technology, and we're right there with them. They have gotten away from us a little here at the end of the season, but we're still right there. One mistake over in that other lane and - before you know it - we could be in another final. I'm tired of using the body as our excuse however, even though it is a valid one."

Skuza was able to notch a career-best 4.794-second elapsed time during qualifying at Route 66 Raceway earlier this year.

"This has turned out to be a formative year for the whole operation," Skuza said. "We have put in place the components that will help us in next year's title chase. Next year, it isn't or goal to just win races. We want to challenge John Force and the other top teams for the title. We're going to have the tools to do that next season. The Mopar engineers are seeing to that right now."

Mopar aero whiz Terry DeKonninck, who was instrumental in the design and development if the Pro Stock Dodge Neon R/T, has been heavily involved in the design of the new Funny Car body.

"Terry has done a fantastic job for us," said Brett Fischer, Mopar Motorports drag racing program manager. "We've also been using the expertise and experience of Roush Industries. I can't tell you the enthusiasm Mopar has for this new body. Let's just say that all of the Mopar fans will be pleasantly surprised."

OSBORNE VENTURES OUT

POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 7, 2001) - When Mopar Parts driver Mark Osborne isn't behind the wheel of his Hemi-powered Dodge Neon R/T Pro Stock entry, you might catch the Abingdon, Va., resident at one of his son's motocross events.

On Jan. 4, son Zach, who has won many junior-level motocross events and titles, will watch his father take center stage on a motorcycle in the Crossover Challenge at the 2002 EA Sports SuperCross season-opener at Edison International Field in Anaheim, Calif.

"Zach's success and interest in motocross racing has gotten me really interested in this great sport," said Osborne, who currently holds the fastest speed in NHRA Pro Stock history at 204.35 mph. "They are completely different disciplines, but are just as competitive. I'm really looking forward to the challenge.

Osborne will be one of the many celebrities taking part in the annual event, which pits non-riders against each other in a Supercross bike challenge. Other celebrities taking part include musician Vanilla Ice and rock band Godsmack member Robbie Merrill. Also competing will be skateboarding legend Steve Caballero, Popular Hot Rodding Television and Popular Hot Rodding Magazine editor Cameron Evans, CART FedEx Championship Series standout Memo Gidley and Ironman Triathelete Scott Tinley, among others.

"I have done some motorcross racing myself," Osborne continued. "I'm sure I be just as competitive in that as I am when I line up on Sunday. When I take on a challenge, I always want to win."

FACTORY WARS

POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 5, 2001) - The 37th annual Auto Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway will mark the end of another NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series season.

For Team Mopar, it's been a year of record-breaking performances highlighted by an exciting victory in Seattle. The Hemi-powered Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T of Mark Osborne became the first and only Pro Stock car to eclipse the 204-mph mark after blistering the Maple Grove Raceway (Reading, Pa.) quarter mile in 204.35 mph, while teammate Darrell Alderman posted the first sub 6.80-second run at the same event with a 6.788-second lap.

"I'm real pleased with what we've put together this season," said Alderman, a three-time NHRA Winston Pro Stock World Champion. "We have the power and now with the new Neon, we have the car. We've now had some time to work on this combination, so we'll go all out for the championship next season.

"I'm also pretty confident about this weekend," Alderman added. "I made the finals here in the opener and that was with the older car."

The new Neons haven't disappointed since their debut at this year's Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo. Both Osborne and Alderman dominated the Seattle event, lining up the first all-Mopar Pro Stock final since 1995. Osborne not only won that race, but also holds the second quickest lap in NHRA Pro Stock history when he posted a 6.754-second run in eliminations.

"It's pretty amazing to see what these new cars have accomplished," Osborne said. "When you look at how competitive this category is it makes what (team owner) David (Nickens) accomplished in just two races. The potential for great things is there."

"Now we just need to be consistent with that potential."

This will also be the final race for long-time NHRA sponsor Winston.

"We also can't forget our friends over at Winston," Alderman commented. "They have been around for such a long time and have given a lot to those of us in drag racing. They are truly going to be missed. It's hard to find a sponsor that shares the same passion for the sport that the racers do."

-Mopar.com-

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