All is Well in the Skuza Camp
LAS VEGAS, (Nov. 8, 2001) - Dean Skuza and the Mopar Parts Dodge R/T Nitro Funny Car started the season finale with a bang following the first qualifying for this weekend's Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at the historic Pomona Raceway.
Skuza clicked off a 4.843-second elapsed time at 311.05 mph to take the provisional second starting slot.
"I love starting out when you know your going to qualify," Skuza said. "A run like that sets the tone for the weekend and gets you in the right frame of mind to make the right decisions. When you don't run well early, a lot of times you get gun shy and that's not good. That's when you're not as aggressive as you should be. And that's just as bad a being too aggressive. So now we can think about Sunday the right way. We're going to try to be aggressive when we have to, and try to repeat the same performance. We have the luxury of almost doing anything.
Patterson Starts Strong
The Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T of Pro Stock Truck driver Todd Patterson opened the season finale in the fourth slot with a 7.47-second elapsed time at 180.00 mph. The Augusta, Kan. resident was pleased with how the team started.
"We're really pleased with that run right out of the box," Patterson said. "We think we found the combination in our first round loss in Dallas, so we only made a few changes and went from there. We didn't think we would have had some of the same times as in Dallas, and we were right because the track was a little loose half way through the run. The real measure will be how we run on Saturday morning with the cooler morning air. I'm prett happy with where we are though."
Craig Eaton Solid Early
Dale Eaton Struggles
Craig Eaton, driver of the other Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T, grabbed the --- position with a 7.48-second elapsed time at 181.99 mph. Eaton is trying to qualify for his fourth race of the 2001 season.
"I was surprised at how good the truck looked," said the younger Eaton. "When we launched, the truck moved towards the center line pretty violently. For a second, I thought I was going to have to shut it off early. It got out of the groove pretty good, but we got it back in there. When they said it was a 7.48, I was shocked. Not bad for the first run out of the box.
"We did some testing in Dallas to find out about the miss that we had," Eaton continued. "It looks like we've figured that problem out. We're looking pretty good."
Father Dale Eaton and the Mopar Parts Dodge Dakota R/T missed the set up early on. Eaton posted a 7.52-second elapsed time at 180.00 mph.
"We haven't made a lot of good runs lately," Eaton said. "We still can't get the truck to leave off the starting line. We spun the tires real bad on the leave. Sooner or later we're going to figure out why it doesn't work. We still have plenty of steam. We had a good mph, but Craig had a great mph. He drove by me like I was sitting still in high gear."
Morgan Drives to Eighth
Larry Morgan opened the season finale with a nice effort in his Hemi-powered Dodge Motorsports Neon R/T. Morgan, from Newark, Ohio, posted a 6.918-second lap at 200.41 mph to capture the eighth position.
"It looks like we just hit everything right," Morgan said. "Hopefully we can stay in the position all weekend.
"The car feels awesome," Morgan continued. "That was a totally different set up from what we've ever run. One of my competitors helped me out with this set up and it really worked. I just real happy, and we want to make sure that we have three factory Dodges in the field."
Alderman Takes 13th
Osborne On the Outside
Darrell Alderman and the Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T slotted his Hemi-powered machine in the 13th-qualified position with a 6.929-second elapsed time at 200.65 mph.
"We didn't leave real well on that one, it felt funny," said the three-time Winston Pro Stock World Champion. "The car spun the tires off the starting line and didn't run what we wanted. We're going to changed the clutch set up tomorrow and get the car on through there."
It wasn't quite as positive for the Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T of Mark Osborne. The Abingdon, Va., resident missed the top 16 with a 7.030-second pass at 199.35 mph.
"That wasn't what we wanted in our first run," Osborne said. "We have three more because its going to be a long weekend. I think the Saturday morning run is the one that we're going to really have to be ready for. We're just more less playing around here - and everyone wants to be fast - but we're just trying to fins out what will and what won't work. And what we run just then won't work."
Nickens Chimes in at 16th
Bo Nickens and his Mopar-powered Dodge R/T entry squeaked into the 16th slot with a 6.950-second elapsed time at 199.58 mph.
"We made a pretty good run," Nickens said. "We're still having some trouble off the starting line. Once we get that all lined out, we should be in good shape. It was a little lazy going through there, but it was straight and we have some good data."