COMMERCE, Ga. (May 4, 2001) - Todd Patterson, driver of the Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T Pro Stock Truck entry, maintained the momentum he garnered from a semifinal-round appearance in Gainesville (Fla.) by grabbing the sixth slot after the first...
COMMERCE, Ga. (May 4, 2001) - Todd Patterson, driver of the Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T Pro Stock Truck entry, maintained the momentum he garnered from a semifinal-round appearance in Gainesville (Fla.) by grabbing the sixth slot after the first day of qualifying for this weekend's Southern NHRA Nationals at the Atlanta Dragway.
Patterson took the next generation Dakota R/T to a solid 7.533-second elapsed time at 178.87 mph. The Augusta, Kan. resident was pleased with his efforts.
"We just cleaned up the first run," said Patterson. "I did my job in shifting and it went through the lights. We're going to make a change in the gearing to get off the line better. If we're a little quicker in the 60-foot time - and I think we will be - we're going for the pole."
Osborne Nabs 11th
Mark Osborne took his Hemi-powered Mopar Parts Dodge R/T Pro Stock entry to the 11th qualifying position. The Abingdon, Va. resident, coming off an impressive semifinal round outing at the most recent event in Bristol, Tenn., ran a 6.935-second elapsed time at 199.37 mph.
"We made a nice run and it looks good for tomorrow," said Osborne. "The car has been very consistent these last few races. I think we're good enough to stay in the show. At least we hope so."
Osborne's teammate Darrell Alderman failed to crack the top 16 with a 6.979-second elapsed time at 198.87 mph. Starting line problems in the second session ended Alderman's shot to qualify.
"We keep finding ways to beat ourselves," said Alderman. "The automatic timer just bit me. I thought we had a chance for a real good time on that run. We've figured out the gremlins that hurt us in Bristol. We'll just have to get them tomorrow.
"We're happy about how the Hemi engine has been running," Alderman continued. "We're making the power - now we need to get it to the track."
Skuza Struggles on Day One
It wasn't a picture perfect day for the Mopar Parts Dodge R/T Nitro Funny Car of Dean Skuza. The Brecksville, Ohio resident smoked the tires on both of his Friday passes, and sits on the outside looking in.
"It's going to be tough to get in tomorrow," said Skuza, commenting on the potential hot and sticky weather conditions for Saturday. "It drove hard to the left and I had to just crank the wheel to the right. The track is a little tricky right now."
Skuza drove to the pole during last year's event.
Morgan Not Qualified
Larry Morgan barely missed the top-16 qualifiers in his Dodge Motorsports R/T Pro Stock machine with a 6.971-second lap at 197.54 mph.
Morgan talked about his day.
"We just didn't make good runs," said Morgan. "There might be something wrong with the engine because we're really slow in the back half. It's also irritating that the track is not being treated for our runs."
Dodge Motorsports R/T Pro Stock Truck driver Craig Eaton and Mopar Parts Dakota R/T pilot Dale Eaton suffered through a frustrating first day of qualifying.
Craig Eaton, who has already qualified for two events this season, ran a quick elapsed time of 7.642-seconds at 176.49 mph, which was good enough for 24th.
"We cooked the clutch," said the younger Eaton. "We made a real bad call in the clutch arena and it hurt us. We're having a hard time trying to dial in this track. The starting line is real tricky out there. Our second run was so bad that the clutch was just smoking at the top end."
Dale Eaton, who owns the team, didn't fair any better with a best lap of 7.692-seconds at 176.05 mph. The Phoenix resident gave candid comments on his day.
"In a word - ugly," said Dale Eaton. "We really missed something in the setup. We blew out the clutch and blew off the tires. At least we're consistent in that area. One of the keys to drag racing is consistency - we're just not consistent in the right way."
Smith Runs Well
Future Mopar Parts-sponsored driver Rickie Smith vaulted into the sixth-qualifying position with a 6.913-second pass at 199.70 mph.
"We're real happy with my car's performance," said Smith. "I think we have a real feel for how the car is reacting and how the car is responding. It's a nice feeling to always challenge for the top slots."
Teammate Kenny Koretsky wasn't as fortunate. Koretsky failed to move into the top 16 with a 7.037-second best lap at 196.42 mph.
"We left the starting line with way too high of a gear," Koretsky said. "I think we'll be okay tomorrow because we figure out the problem."
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