St Louis: Mopar Racing Friday notes

(MADISON, Ill. - June 23, 2000) - Todd Patterson, after battling a hot-and-sticky Midwestern afternoon, maintained a top-five qualifying effort following Friday's final two sessions for the fourth annual Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway...

(MADISON, Ill. - June 23, 2000) - Todd Patterson, after battling a hot-and-sticky Midwestern afternoon, maintained a top-five qualifying effort following Friday's final two sessions for the fourth annual Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway Int'l Raceway.

The Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T pilot, who ran a 7.61-second elapsed time at 176.14 mph, drove to a solid fifth-place qualifying effort heading into an unusual Saturday of eliminations. As with National Trail Raceway last weekend, he will face Steve Johns in round one.

"We did a little experimenting today," said Patterson, who failed to top his Friday night effort. "We need to see where we stand for eliminations. The track is a little slick at the top end due to the hot conditions.

"We need to go some rounds tomorrow," Patterson added. "This Dodge Motorsports crew has worked tremendously hard. We have found some real horsepower and consistency with this new Magnum engine."

Patterson's Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T teammate Craig Eaton failed to qualify, but put down a solid run with a 7.67/174.91. Dale Eaton, driver of the Team Mopar Dodge Dakota R/T, managed a 7.79/171.79 weekend best.

"We just need to keep working hard," D. Eaton said. "I have been at this for 30 years and we aren't giving up now. We finally figured out our clutch problems."

Darrell Alderman, driver of Team Mopar Dodge Avenger, missed the top 16 after posting a 7.01/195.85. The three-time NHRA Winston Pro Stock World Champion failed to make a final qualifying effort.

"We broke a rocker arm," said Alderman, who just missed the show during last weekend's Kirkersville, Ohio event. "If we would have had that last run, I think we could have put it in the show. The car had a 6.99 (elapsed time) in it."

Alderman's teammate and Team Mopar Dodge Avenger shoe Scott Geoffrion also missed the field after he drove to a 7.02/195.90 best effort. The California native was disappointed.

"The track seemed a little soft," said Geoffrion, a nine-time NHRA national event winner. "I thought we could have sneaked in there. Sometimes it just isn't meant to be."

Dodge Motorsports Pro Stock competitors Larry Morgan and John Nobile also missed the field. Morgan clocked in at 7.08/195.22 and Nobile had a 7.08/194.13 outing.

"We have a nice baseline with the Hemi," said Morgan, who recently installed the new 1,300-horsepower powerplant. "By the time Denver (Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals July 13-16) rolls around, we should be in good shape."

Matco Tools/Mopar Parts Nitro Funny Car driver Dean Skuza qualified 15th after posting a 5.12/295.66 run. The Ohio resident, who qualified No.1 at Atlanta Dragway earlier this year, likes his chances.

"We should be in the running tomorrow," Skuza said. "If we can figure out the clutch, we'll be all right."

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Nobile , Darrell Alderman , Dean Skuza , Larry Morgan , Todd Patterson , Scott Geoffrion , Steve J