Dallas: Team Mopar Saturday summary

Three factory Mopar Pro Stockers qualify Schumacher Racing places three Stratus Funny Cars in top half ENNIS, Texas (Oct. 11, 2003) -- Larry Morgan led the way as Team Mopar qualified three factory backed Dodge Stratus Pro Stock cars ...

Three factory Mopar Pro Stockers qualify
Schumacher Racing places three Stratus Funny Cars in top half

ENNIS, Texas (Oct. 11, 2003) -- Larry Morgan led the way as Team Mopar qualified three factory backed Dodge Stratus Pro Stock cars for tomorrow's 18th running of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex.

Morgan, who has been on a tear lately, landing in two-straight semifinals, clocked in with a 6.861-second elapsed time at 201.83 mph. The Newark, Ohio, resident locked down the sixth-qualified position and will face off against Taylor Lastor in round one.

"Other than that tire shake on the last run, we've had a good weekend," Morgan said. "We tried some thing in the clutch on that last one that didn't work. We're glad we had our problems today, instead of tomorrow though. We feel real well because Gene (Wilson) also ran well.

"I think it's going to get colder tomorrow," Morgan continued. "I know these Hemi's like the cooler air, so I'm real pleased we've run as good as we have this weekend. And I don't even care who we race tomorrow because I know we'll be ready. All I know is that there will be one guy to pick from in every round."

Gene Wilson made up for lost time today, directing his Hemi-powered Dodge Stratus Pro Stock entry to the ninth slot after posting a 6.864-second lap at 201.88 mph. The 2002 NHRA Rookie of the Year will line up against fellow Georgian Warren Johnson in the first round.

"We made a couple of good runs today," said Wilson, who was on the outside looking after yesterday's two sessions. "We have a good race day tune up in this thing and I just want to thank (team owner) Larry Morgan, (consultant) Bob Glidden and all the guys back at the shop. They have put a lot of effort into this engine program and it's really starting to show now. I'm just glad to have these Mopars' in the show because that's what we need.

"I don't think there will be a big issue with the lanes tomorrow," Wilson added. "There may be a few variations between the two, but it won't be a real concern. We'll go into race day tomorrow, with everyone trying to do their jobs, and we'll see if we can't put this Stratus in the winner's circle."

Mopar's Allen Johnson stepped up the program during today's final two rounds of qualifying. The Tennessee native drove his Dodge Stratus to the ninth position with a 6,874-second lap at 201.79 mph, setting up a first round encounter with veteran Bruce Allen.

"We made a nice run out there," Johnson said. "When the air gets warmer, we're not performing like we should in the hotter weather. We're somewhat happy, but we would have gotten Darrell (Alderman) in the show if we hadn't had that transmission problem last night. The two guys in front of me in points DNQ'd, and that should help me move up. We'll just try to go some round tomorrow.

"It seems like, as far as cars going down the race track, that both lanes are fine," Johnson added. "But, it seems like the left lane has produced better elapsed times. We'll just have to take what they give us and go from there."

Friday night's mechanical woes was enough to slow down three-time POWERade Pro Stock World Champion Darrell Alderman this weekend. After breaking a transmission, Alderman posted a 6.889-second elapsed time at 201.47 mph. It wasn't enough to crack the top 16.

"We improved on that last one," said Alderman, who suffered a transmission failure during last night's second session. "We feel like we made a decent run, but just fell a little bit short. It definitely throws you off if you break during the good session. We had to put another clutch unit in it last night. We don't want to make any excuses because we ought to get it in there any way. We didn't, so we'll go to Vegas and kick there butts there."

Mopar Funny Cars Qualify in Top Half...

Gary Scelzi landed the Oakely sponsored Dodge Stratus Funny Car into the second qualifying position. The California resident, who will take on Dale Creasy, Jr., in round one tomorrow, ran a 4.828-second elapsed time at 323.97 mph; the event's fastest recorded speed.

"We have been running less win than everyone else," said Scelzi, who set top speed of the event. "The track is real slippery and the air is not really good, but we still have top speed of the meet, which means we're right where we want to be. Which is no surprise to anyone."

Whit Bazemore and the Matco Tools Dodge Stratus Funny Car saved the best for last today, moving up to the fifth-qualified position with a 4.867-second pass at 319.94 mph. Bazemore, who is nipping at the heels of points leader Tony Pedregon, will line up against Tommy Johnson, Jr., in the first round of eliminations.

"It was a good, good run this afternoon," Bazemore commented. "It was second low of the session and it's important that this Matco Tools Dodge Stratus is competitive on every run. Lee Beard (crew chief) and all of the guys have been perfect. We're in a good position for tomorrow. We moved up in qualifying after that last session, and it makes up for the bad run we had last night.

"The Dodge Stratus body has been a key component to the success of the team this year," Bazemore continued. "The engineering support that we've gotten from Dodge Motorsports and Mopar Racing has played an important role. Aerodynamics at 325-mph plus are critical, and this car, all season, has offered a considerable amount more downforce this year. We're getting all of our downforce with a lot less drag, which has been a big advantage for us this year. We know we have a race car that is every bit as good as what John Force Racing has and we're proving that because we're neck and neck in the points chase. It's anybodies game at this point and we're looking to bring home a points championship for Mopar."

Oakley's Scott Cannon made his first race while driving a Dodge Stratus body this weekend. Cannon, of South Carolina, will match up with Phil Burkhart in the opening round after logging a 4.902-second lap at 318.58 mph today.

"We backed it down on our second run," Cannon said. "We were real slow early, but it wasn't because of the body. It's the same tune up we ran with our other car, and it ran 318 mph. I think that speaks for itself about how good the body is.

"It's definitely a different car to drive," Cannon added. "I was really worried about coming here, not having tested this new body because this track is a little tricky. I think because it's so different, that I really concentrate more out there. Not that I don't pay attention anyway just from the nature of these cars, but you better not let this thing get out of shape. It feels like you're driving in the trunk out there. I definitely like having this body because I sure don't want to give up five or six miles an hour on every run.

"This body is pretty good at the top end," Cannon went on. "It spun a little bit and then recovered. I cut out a couple of cylinders and recovered, so it's all good as far as I'm concerned."

Carlson Shows Off Mopar's Sport Compact Entry...

Shaun Carlson brought his Mopar-powered and factory backed NHRA 'Extreme Rush' Sport Compact racer to the Texas Motorplex today. The exhibition runs, which showcase Carlson's new Dodge Neon SRT-4 entry, are to bring further exposure to the new professional racing series.

Despite mechanical woes today, Carlson is chasing the elusive sub eight-second run this weekend; something that has not yet happened in the history of NHRA's front-wheel drive category.

"We didn't have enough fuel pressure when we we're idling in the pits today," said Carlson, on the aborted run. "A fitting came loose on our fuel injector and it stopped our run. When we went out there, and had, both the load, the turbo and rpm's from the pump, it sprayed fuel out of the little fitting. It could have been worse because it could have been oil. I was afraid that the engine was gone.

"It was an easy fix," Carlson added. "If we could go out right now and run, we could. We're building up the hype to break the record. Every time up there, we're trying to break that record and no one really knows who is going to do it. If we are the first one's to do it, that will be perfect because the build up has been tremendous. We want to get the hype and the fans going. It's also kind of neat to wonder who is going to do it as well. We should be on to do it tomorrow."


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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Darrell Alderman , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Larry Morgan , Tommy Johnson , Bob Glidden , Gene Wilson , Bruce Allen , Allen Johnson , Shaun Carlson