Skuza Drives to the Semifinals POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 11, 2001) - Dean Skuza retired the Dodge R/T body in fine fashion with a semifinal round appearance during today's Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona...
Skuza Drives to the Semifinals
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 11, 2001) - Dean Skuza retired the Dodge R/T body in fine fashion with a semifinal round appearance during today's Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway.
Skuza fell to Del Worsham in a close semifinal match. Skuza held a starting line advantage (.487-.493) on Worsham, but at the top end Worsham's 4.827-second elapsed time nipped Skuza's 4.840-second lap at the top end.
"We had to change bodies because we threw the spark plug in our second round run and hurt it," said Skuza, who ran the heavier "Spiderman" body in the semis'. "There was a lot of work to do just to get it back in time. I was impressed that this team could do that. Our new Dodge Stratus R/T body is going to equate to a lot of performance next year."
Skuza moved the semifinals by defeating Frank Pedregon in the first round of eliminations and 11-time Winston Funny Car Champion John Force in round two. It was the second victory of the season over Force.
Patterson Also Makes Semifinals
Todd Patterson closed out his Pro Stock Truck career in the position he had been many times earlier this season --- the semifinals. Patterson and the Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T fell to Mike Coughlin in the semifinals.
"We jus t wanted to have a win light to show for all the work we've done this year," Patterson said. "I knew I was going to have a great light to win that race. We needed to make a clean run, but got out in third gear and the truck moved over to the centerline. I just rode the centerline, spinning the tires. He pulled on me and won by nine thousandths. We got the consolation prize once again. He and I have had probably some of the closest battles in the category this season and it was unfortunate that we were on the wrong side of the fence a majority of the time.
"I wanted to go out with a bang," Patterson added. "I wanted to show that I haven't lost my skill - if I ever had any - and maybe somebody is out there looking for a good driver. We're pleased with the season overall. We jumped eight slots form last year in points with the new aerodynamic truck. My dad's (Allan) constant desire to make the Mopar P-5 engine one of the premier engines in the category. I think with our steady qualifying every race and breaking some track records it kind of speaks for itself. We have nothing to hang our heads over."
Alderman Falls in Round Two
Three-time Winston Pro Stock World Champion Darrell Alderman fell to George Marnell in the second round of eliminations. Even though Alderman posted a much quicker reaction time (.442-.475), lack of lane choice hurt Alderman Hemi-powered Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T as Marnell clicked off a 6.876-second elapsed time to a 6.916.
"We sure wanted to win today," said Alderman, who was looking for his 28th national event of his career. "We got beat by seven thousandths, but it just shook the tires in second gear and the car slowed down.
"As far as the year goes, I've enjoyed racing with this group this year," Alderman added. "Hopefully the performance and the whole team effort will be better next year and we can contend for the championship."
Morgan Falls in Round One
Despite losing in the first round, Dodge Motorsports Neon R/T driver Larry Morgan was happy with his final race of the season. Bruce Allen outdueled Morgan with a 6.853-second lap to a 6.893-second pass.
"He had the best reaction time of the whole round," said Morgan, speaking of Allen's .422 reaction to the tree. "We were just happy to get in to the race. All the guys back at the shop have done a real good job this year. We were down on power a lot of the time, but, for the most part, coming to the end of the season, we qualified for the tightest field of the season."
A mere .029 of a second separated the top 16 qualifiers.
"I just look forward to next year," Morgan continued. "We're going to work a lot more this winter on picking up power. I think we'll do well next year. We're also going to the wind tunnel with the Neon and do a series of tests with Mopar. We're going to try and make our car a little bit better, even though it a great car right now."
Eaton Loses in First Round to End PST Career
Craig Eaton said farewell to his Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T after losing the first round of eliminations to Mike Coughlin. After qualifying for his fourth race of the season, Eaton posted a slower 7.499-second elapsed time at 181.03 mph to Coughlin's 7.433-second lap at 180.98 mph.
"I don't know why, but we kept slowing down on every run," Eaton said. "A lot of it was due to the right lane because it wasn't near as good. I had the third best run over in the right lane, so we weren't too far off. Unfortunately, Mike had a real good run over in the left lane. We weren't doing real well with the tuning job.
"It's kind of a bummer that it's all over," Eaton continued. "It was kind of strange feeling when turned the corner on the top end knowing that it probably was my last run in that truck. We enjoyed it and it was a lot of fun. All the crew guys, engine guys and everyone in the shop worked so hard this year. I pretty pleased with what we did. I also want to thank everyone at DaimlerChrysler and Mopar for everything they have done for us."