COMMERCE, Ga. - On Sunday morning, Mike Dunn, owner Darrell Gwynn and the Team Mopar crew were determined to keep a firm grip on first place in the NHRA Winston Series standings. The prospects, however, weren't as rosy as the ...
COMMERCE, Ga. - On Sunday morning, Mike Dunn, owner Darrell Gwynn and the Team Mopar crew were determined to keep a firm grip on first place in the NHRA Winston Series standings.
The prospects, however, weren't as rosy as the optimism. Fortunately for all concerned, optimism - plus a little good fortune - enabled Dunn to leave Atlanta Dragway with an 88-point cushion going into this week's Mopar Nationals at Englishtown, N.J.
Dunn drove a well-prepared dragster to two successive round wins and marched from the No. 10 qualifying position into the semifinals before losing to eventual race winner Gary Scelzi. Dunn also received a little assistance because some of his closest challengers fell out of competition early. Larry Dixon, Cory McClenathan, Doug Herbert and Kenny Bernstein all lost in the first round and Tony Schumacher lost in the second round.
So Dunn has 547 points to 459 for Schumacher. Dixon is third with 455, followed by McClenathan and Herbert tied for fourth (430). Bernstein is sixth with 416.
"All things considered, this was a very good weekend for us," Dunn said. "We said this morning that if we could reach the semis we'd be happy, but once we got there, we got a little greedy."
Dunn knocked out Doug Herbert (4.691 to 4.821) and Randy Parks (4.690 to .4.938). Against Scelzi, Dunn left the starting line a few thousandths before Scelzi and lost a close race, 4.708 at 278.01 mph to 4.725 at 300. "I didn't see him until I pulled the 'chutes," Dunn recalled, "and he went by me in a hurry.
"Our crew did a great job getting the car ready. We got a break in the first round and were able to take advantage of that. Not having lane choice in the first round and the semifinals put us in the left lane, and that was by far the worst lane. Our car ran the best times in that lane, and that says something about our team. We do well in adverse conditions. We ran good times in the bad lane.
"Things are going to get tougher during the rest of the year. We have 15 races left and we have to go after them. We aren't taking the conservative approach. I don't think anybody else could've done that well in that lane."
It's no surprise, then, that Dunn, Gwynn and company are looking forward to getting to Englishtown Friday when qualifying begins. "We know there will be two good lanes there," said Dunn. "We like racing there." Qualified: No. 10, 4.720 seconds, 289.20 mph. First round: Dunn, 4.691 at 291.76 def. Doug Herbert; Second round: Dunn, 4.690 at 301.13 def. Randy Parks; Semifinals: Gary Scelzi def. Dunn.
Pro Winners: Gary Scelzi, Top Fuel; John Force, Funny Car; Warren Johnson, Pro Stock