Columbus: Mopar Saturday summary

Johnson & Alderman place Mopar in top half of the Pro Stock field Bazemore & Scelzi also run to the top half of the Funny Car standings HEBRON, Ohio (June 14, 2003) -- It was a stellar day of qualifying for the Mopar contingent at National Trail...

Johnson & Alderman place Mopar in top half of the Pro Stock field
Bazemore & Scelzi also run to the top half of the Funny Car standings

HEBRON, Ohio (June 14, 2003) -- It was a stellar day of qualifying for the Mopar contingent at National Trail Raceway today. Mopar Pro Stock standouts Allen Johnson and Darrell Alderman; and Funny Car runners Whit Bazemore and Gary Scelzi will all start in the top half of the field for tomorrow's event.

Allen Johnson made a little history for the new Dodge Stratus R/T Pro Stock car today. The Mopar driver ran a solid 6.893-second elapsed time at 199.20 mph, taking home the fifth-qualified position. It's the highest position for the Status R/T thus far in Pro Stock competition, and sets up a first round match with Jim Yates.

"We run faster down low on our first pass of the day," said Johnson, who ran identical elapsed times during today's two sessions. "We made a few changes the car didn't like because we could have run a high 6.87-second run on that last one.

"We sure have to be happy with the weekend though," Johnson added. "This Stratus is so fast. We have been No. 1 to the 330-foot mark all weekend. This Stratus will go down a dirt road if we give it a chance. I think this car will be great tomorrow after the fuel cars get out there."

Darrell Alderman drove his Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T into the eighth-qualified position. The three-time POWERade Pro Stock World Champion, who drove to the finals in last year's event, faces off against current point leader Kurt Johnson in the first round.

"We made a nice run on that last one," said Alderman, who made his quickest run of the weekend during the last session. "We moved around just a little bit in second gear, but I put it back in the groove and it made it down the track."

"If the track stays like it is now, lane choice won't be that big of deal," Alderman continued. "If the sun comes out though, this track usually has uneven lanes -- and it's usually the left one that's the best."

Co-team owner and engine builder Roy Johnson talked about his two cars:

"We have found (through testing) that the Stratus is just a much better car in the front half of the run," Johnson said. "We applied what we learned on Allen's car to Darrell's Neon as well -- and we changed motor combinations -- and it seemed to work. We tested in Bristol (Tenn.) with similar conditions, prior to coming here this weekend, and the Stratus went down the track every time. It was hard to get the Neon down it."

Larry Morgan, who lives in nearby Newark, Ohio, barely missed the show at his home track. His Mopar-backed Dodge Neon R/T clicked off a 6.938/198.32 mph combination.

"We were real loose down track," Morgan said. "And it really wasn't what we we're looking for. You always want to do well, but especially in front of all of your hometown fans. We did find some things this weekend and we are definitely looking forward to St. Louis."

Gene Wilson and his Mopar Parts Dodge Stratus R/T failed to crack the top 16 today. The 2002 NHRA Rookie of the Year ran a 6.936-second lap at 198.50 mph.

"We made a nice run in that last session," Wilson noted. "It was an excellent run, matter of fact. We just came up a little short. It's just the way it goes. We were trying some new things when we got here, and we figured out some problems that we had with the car. We just didn't figure them out in time."

"Everybody on this team is giving a 110 percent," Wilson added. "It's just a matter of time now. It's kind of tough when you suffer through not qualifying, especially when everyone is giving such an effort. We're going to pull through it. We found some stuff in the motor and we're going to correct those problems. We're going to put some of this good Larry Morgan horsepower in the winner's circle soon."

Schumacher Racing scorches the National Trail quarter mile...

Gary Scelzi wielded his Oakley-sponsored Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car to the sixth-qualified position. The California resident, who has first round match with Cruz Pedregon tomorrow, logged a 4.863-second elapsed time at 320.13 mph. It was the second-fastest time recorded for the weekend.

"It's made three great runs so far this weekend," Scelzi said. "The first run we went 4.97 (seconds). We put our nose up a little on that run, but it went down the race track. We found out that we had a bad coil in that round. We came right back and went a 4.87. We then jumped on it to see what this car would do and loaded everything up. We just spun the tire harder on that last run. We know what we did tonight won't get us into the 4.70s at this racetrack. If the sun comes out tomorrow, it really doesn't matter. If this thing goes down the race track, it's very exciting."

Despite blowing his Matco Tools Dodge Stratus R/T body off the frame during the third and final session tonight, Whit Bazemore grabbed the seventh-qualified position with a 4.877-second elapsed time at 313.95 mph. Bazemore will match up with Dean Skuza in the first round tomorrow.

"We've struggled some this weekend," said Bazemore, who has won two of the last three NHRA national events. "Our first run really wasn't as competitive as we wanted it to be, but I think we're in the same boat relative to everyone else out there. We moved up during our second run -- and that was okay."

"Tonight, we were in a position to go for the number-one qualifier," Bazemore added. "And that's what we we're trying to do. We thought a high 4.70 would get the job done. I don't know what really broke on the car, but it sure blew the supercharger off it. That body is trash now."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Darrell Alderman , Kurt Johnson , Dean Skuza , Whit Bazemore , Gary Scelzi , Larry Morgan , Gene Wilson , Cruz Pedregon , Allen Johnson , Roy Johnson