ENNIS, Texas (Oct. 12, 2003) -- Allen Johnson made his presence felt, leading his Mopar Parts Dodge Stratus to the semifinals of today's O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at a packed Texas Motorplex. Johnson lit the red light in his semifinal...
ENNIS, Texas (Oct. 12, 2003) -- Allen Johnson made his presence felt, leading his Mopar Parts Dodge Stratus to the semifinals of today's O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at a packed Texas Motorplex.
Johnson lit the red light in his semifinal match with newly crowned Pro Stock World Champion Greg Anderson. Johnson advanced to the semifinals with round victories over Bruce Allen and Kurt Johnson. His opponents aided him because of foul starts.
"I'd rather be lucky than good on any day," Johnson said. "Our performances this weekend weren't where I wanted them. We just couldn't seem to get these cars to work in the hot and humid air. Dad (Roy Johnson) is doing a great job back at the shop. He hasn't been at the last three races. We have been trying to make some more horsepower and catch Greg out there."
"This weekend also give a little breathing room in the points," Johnson added. "We would like to maintain that going into the last two."
Larry Morgan drove his Dodge Stratus to the second round of competition today, before falling to Jeg Coughlin. In the second round, the tree timed Morgan out. The Newark, Ohio, resident moved into round two when he defeated Taylor Lastor on a holeshot (.004-.039). Morgan ran a 6.848-second lap at 202.79 mph to Lastor's quicker 6.837/202.20, combination.
"It was my own fault on that last one," Morgan said. "I should have been a little more aggressive staging, but I will from now on. We ran well this weekend and both cars made it to the second round. We made a good run in the first round and everything went our way on that one."
Mopar's Gene Wilson lost to in the second round to Anderson. Despite posting a much better reaction time (.013-.059), Wilson's 6.888-second pass at 201.16 wasn't enough for Anderson's 6.806/203.38.
"I really happy with the way we performed this weekend," Wilson said. "I was doing my job on the tree today and I can't complain with what we accomplished this weekend. There are a bunch of other cars out here this weekend that went home early. I guarantee you that they would like to trade positions with us. I do wish we could have come away with a win for Mopar, but we'll go ahead and see what we can do in Vegas."
MOPAR FUNNY CARS TO THE SECOND ROUND...
Whit Bazemore and his Mopar Parts Dodge Stratus ran to the second round of eliminations today. Bazemore ran a slower 4.831-second lap at 319.94 mph, as Worsham ran a quicker 4.819-second elapsed time at 321.88 mph.
Bazemore moved into the second round when he nipped Tommy Johnson, Jr., at the stripe in the opening round. Bazemore ripped off a 4.850-second elapsed time at 320.28 mph, and it was enough to beat out Johnson's 4.863/314.57, combination.
"It's how it is," said Bazemore. "It's who's in the other lane and what you do as a team. In some regard it's fate and you just have to be the best prepared that you can be. And It's NHRA drag racing where anything happens any round. You just have to be the best prepared that you can be and go up there as aggressive as you think you can be without going over that fine line. And that's what out Matco Tools Dodge team did. We ran well, we got beat by a team that did a little better than we did today.
"You can take it a step further," Bazemore added. "Tony Pedregon ran even slower than Force did and he won. You can't judge what you do by what other people do, you just have to look at your own results and prepare your car, your team and your driver the best you can prepare them and then go for it."
"We don't quit, we don't give up. Our career has been a series of trials and tribulations, coming back from times when we shouldn't have ever been able to come back. The championship, until it's mathematically over, is not over and we're realistic here. We don't live in a pipedream, but the fact is it is not mathematically over. We obviously have to win the next two races and hope that our competition has some bad luck. We're not going to wish bad luck on them. All we can do is try to do what we do and that's try to win races. If we win the next two races we'll see where we are in points."
The Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car of Gary Scelzi ran to round two before losing to Dean Skuza. Scelzi posted a 4.935-second lap at 306.74 mph, but it wasn't enough to outrun Skuza's 4.959/304.67, effort.
Scelzi drove to the second round with a triumph over Dale Creasy in round one. The California resident, logged a 4.879-second pass at 321.65 mph.
"We went up there and tried to run a 4.82 or .83 like we did in qualifying," said Scelzi, who holds the national speed record of 329.18 mph. "All the numbers were perfect, and then somewhere down the run, right before or at half track, it blew a spark plug out of it, then it dropped a cylinder. It was obvious that something went wrong when you look at the speed we ran, just 306 mph. Our car runs 320 by accident. We're just having no racing luck at all.
"It's getting hard to keep picking yourself up after you keep getting kicked like this," Scelzi added. "But you know what you've got and you know it can win the race at any time and everybody else knows it too."
Scotty Cannon, driver of the Oakley Dodge Stratus, ripped off the fastest speed of his career with a 325.73 mph (fastest run of the weekend) blast and an elapsed time of 4.874 seconds. But it wasn't enough, as Phil Burkhart lapped the Texas Motorplex quarter mile in 4.849 seconds at 316.34 mph.
"It seems like it's working better," Cannon said. "I always seem to get the guy that seems to come out with the next best run. It's a little disappointing. We worked on the car hard and had a little bad luck and the car performed pretty decently but we came up short. We thought we were heading in the right direction. We'll just have to see.
"I like the Dodge," Cannon continued. "It's definitely faster. If nothing else, I'm a pretty good test dummy. When we put it on I go hauling butt. I guess that ought to be good for somebody. Dodge probably likes that. If we can run a 325 with it, anybody can."