Denver: Mopar Friday summary

Bazemore, Johnson top Mopar contingent MORRISON, Colo. (July 18, 2003) -- Whit Bazemore unveiled his new Mopar 'Bling Bling' Dodge Stratus paint scheme yesterday. He then uncovered the power of Schumacher Racing today by nabbing the provisional...

Bazemore, Johnson top Mopar contingent

MORRISON, Colo. (July 18, 2003) -- Whit Bazemore unveiled his new Mopar 'Bling Bling' Dodge Stratus paint scheme yesterday. He then uncovered the power of Schumacher Racing today by nabbing the provisional second slot for Sunday's Mopar Mile-High Nationals at picturesque Bandimere Speedway.

Bazemore's Dodge Stratus, which also wears the Matco Tools colors, logged a 5.061-second elapsed time at 300.00 mph. The Indianapolis resident commented on the group behind his efforts.

"Every amount of success we have had this year can be attributed to all the hard work put in by (aero-thermal engineer) Terry DeKoninck, the Dodge Motorsports Engineering staff and this Schumacher Racing team," Bazemore said. "They are all apart of this success. One of the keys to being successful up here in the thin air is having a lot of downforce. We have that with this Dodge Stratus.

"We're also battling a lot hotter conditions than we're used too," Bazemore continued. "At this altitude, the sun is also hotter on this race track. It was important to run well tonight. Tomorrow we're going to be working on our race day set up."

Gary Scelzi broke out the Dodge Dealers Dodge Stratus Funny Car in the second round of qualifying tonight. The California resident smoked the tires, but was still able to nab the 16th slot with a 5.906-second elapsed time.

"We tested at Indianapolis a couple of weeks ago to make the car not so sensitive," Scelzi said. "We know we have an animal on our hands. We know its fast, but it doesn't repeat, and we can't win races that way. We made some changes in our clutch department and we also tried some things with the track conditions in the 130-degree range. It was still too sensitive.

"Our first run was a nice, easy run," Scelzi added. "We came back and wanted to get after it tonight. The numbers we ran up to the 400-foot mark would have put us in the 4.90-second area. It just smoked the tires. We just got to the spot that the track wouldn't take it. Even with maximum downforce, it didn't save us. We're okay though. We run at three and around seven and the conditions should be good for us."


Allen Johnson and his Hemi-powered Mopar Parts Dodge Stratus topped the Mopar factory contingent following the first day of qualifying. Johnson collected the 13th slot after posting a 7.269-second elapsed time at 189.68 mph. The Tennessee native described his day.

"We went out in these conditions last week and went a 7.22 (elapsed time)," Johnson said. "We're giving it up down low because we're spinning so bad. I don't know if the track is prepped differently or what, but we're sure chasing it.

"We have a quite a bit left," Johnson added. "We think we could have gone a 7.22 or a 7.23 (elapsed time) that last time. We're not very happy because we've come out here to win the pole. The track should be a little warmer tomorrow, and not quite as good, but the air should be better, so it will be about the same. We can still jump up there."

Factory Mopar teammate Darrell Alderman, a three-time POWERade Pro Stock World Champion, grabbed the provisional 11th-qualifying slot with a 7.279-second elapsed time at 189.92 mph. The Morehead, Ky., resident talked about his first two runs in Colorado's thin air.

"I think I could have done a little bit better job that time," said the 28-time NHRA national event winner. "We feel we have a couple thousandths left in it. The temperatures should be a little cooler tomorrow and we feel that our 10:30 run tomorrow morning will make the conditions a lot better. We'll go out there tomorrow and get them."

Greg Stanfield pushed his DBP Enterprises Hemi-powered Dodge Neon to the 10th position. The former multi-time Sportsman category NHRA World Champion clicked off a 7.266-second elapsed time at 189.90 mph and took home the provisional 10th-qualified position.

"We didn't make very good runs out there," Stanfield said. "I'm thrilled with where we are in the standings considering that. We need to work on the clutch a little bit and we'll see what we can do for tomorrow."

Larry Morgan barely missed making it into the provisional Pro Stock field. The Newark, Ohio resident, logged a 7.321-second pass at 188.46 mph.

"We'll be fine for tomorrow," Morgan said. "We're working on some shock stuff because the car jumps up off the line. We should be in good shape for tomorrow because the conditions should be a little better in the morning."

It wasn't the day 2002 NHRA Rookie of the Year Gene Wilson was looking for. After prematurely shutting off his Mopar Parts Dodge Stratus in the first round of eliminations, the automatic timers counted Wilson out in the second round.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Darrell Alderman , Whit Bazemore , Gary Scelzi , Larry Morgan , Gene Wilson , Greg Stanfield , Allen Johnson