Bazemore Wins First Race for Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car Body Alderman Travels to First Pro Stock Final of 2003 NHRA Season ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 18, 2003) -- Whit Bazemore made history for Dodge and the new Stratus R/T Funny Car body during ...
Bazemore Wins First Race for Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car Body
Alderman Travels to First Pro Stock Final of 2003 NHRA Season
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 18, 2003) -- Whit Bazemore made history for Dodge and the new Stratus R/T Funny Car body during today's NHRA national event at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
Bazemore won the first race for the new Stratus R/T body and a first for Dodge since the 1998 NHRA event at Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pa. Bazemore finally broke through after posting seven semifinal or better finishes to open the season. The 14-year-category veteran moved up to second in the points after defeating Ron Capps in the final with a 4.869-second elapsed time at 306.81 mph.
"We're contending for a championship stronger than we've ever contended before," said a happy Bazemore in winner's circle. "The aerodynamics of the Stratus is very, very good. It's one of the main reasons we've been so successful this year. We're very excited and grateful to have Dodge involved.
"I tested (teammate) Gary Scelzi's Dodge last weekend," Bazemore added. "And we went 325 (mph) with a 40-mph crosswind. We had the spoiler in a full downforce position. When they made the fastest Funny Car run ever today -- we weren't surprised. We're going to try and one-up those guys a little bit. We know the potential of the car and when we're in good conditions again -- it's our every intention to go 327 (mph) or faster with these cars -- and we know we can do it."
Bazemore was impressive in his trek through the field. The Indianapolis resident, outran Cruz Pedregon in round one, Del Worsham in round two and Tony Pedregon in the semifinals. Bazemore clocked a 4.813-second elapsed time at 324.59 mph in round two --the second fastest run of the weekend.
Gary Scelzi took his Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car body to new heights in his first round victory today over Schumacher Racing teammate Scotty Cannon. Scelzi and his Oakley-sponsored Dodge made a 326.95 mph pass --- which is the fastest run in NHRA Funny Car history. Unfortunately for Scelzi, tire smoke ended his weekend against Tony Pedregon in round number two.
"All the work that has been done by (Mopar Aero Engineer) Terry DeKoninck has really paid off," Scelzi said. "Mopar has a great wind tunnel and we've spent a lot of time and work on developing this body. It's really starting to pay some dividends. It's unfortunate we lost lane choice today because that's what got us.
"We get to playing these games on the starting line and you can get bit," said Scelzi, on his second round match with Pedregon. "I deep-staged to shorten the race track and it cost us today. I tried everything to disorient Tony on the starting line by knocking that top light out. The kid was on his game and he's tough to beat. I think we have something for them. Lane choice was critical, because when we backed up, the concrete was sticking to the wheels -- and what do you do? You can't put the car by the wall. The rubber was actually pulling the concrete up. Our car is acting like it was at the beginning of the year. I'm pretty happy with what we have right now. Tony ran a 4.79 and weren't taking us lightly -- we want them to know who's parking next to them."
ALDERMAN USED A LITTLE OF HIS ENGLISHTOWN MAGIC TODAY...
Mopar Pro Stock standout Darrell Alderman maintained his love affair with Old Bridge Township Raceway Park during this weekend's K&N Filters SuperNationals.
The three-time POWERade NHRA Pro Stock World Champion drove to his fifth final round at this facility. Alderman, who also made a semifinal round appearance during the season-opening Winternationals at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway, logged a 6.747-second elapsed time at 205.38 mph in the final, but it wasn't enough as Greg Anderson posted a 6.724-second lap at 205.98 mph.
"We never made great runs this weekend," said Alderman, who has recorded three victories in his career at Raceway Park. "But, I'm sure pleased with the results. The car shook the tires pretty hard and the right lane wasn't the best today. We never had lane choice today, but always ran just well enough to win."
Alderman advanced to the finals by defeating Mark Pawuk in round one and a red-lighting Jim Yates in round two. Alderman clicked off a 6.734-second elapsed time at a career-best 205.16 mph in the first round.
Alderman drilled defending Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin, Jr., on the starting line in the semifinals. The 28-time NHRA national event winner posted a .035 reaction time to Coughlin's .075. Alderman wound up running a 6.750-second elapsed time (quickest of the round) at 205.01 mph.
Allen Johnson drove his Hemi-powered Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T to the second round of competition, before losing a close one to Kurt Johnson. The Greeneville, Tenn., resident ran a career best 6.713-second elapsed time at 205.85 mph en route to a first round victory over Troy Coughlin. In round two, A. Johnson narrowly missed the semifinals when he ran a 6.721/205.94 (career best speed) to KJ's 6.720/206.13 combination.
"I goofed up on the starting line," said Johnson, who left behind K. Johnson (.019-.045). "When I staged, I went in too deep and was afraid I was going to red light. So I backed off a little bit and had a forty light. That kind of light just doesn't get it in Pro Stock these days. Little bitty lapsed like that is what beats you in this category.
"The Hemi engines were really awesome this weekend," Johnson added. "We think we could have run a 6.70 or 6.69 on that first run. It just wasn't our day today."
The red light flickered and ended Mopar driver Gene Wilson's Sunday early. The Georgia resident qualified 15th and made the best runs the new Dodge Stratus R/T body had made thus far this season.
"I'm a little disappointed," Wilson said. "My reaction time was .011 red and I just had the same trouble that everyone else has had. What are you going to do -- I'll just go out and adjust my driving style and slow the car down on the starting line.
"We had a pretty nice run going until the car went through first gear," Wilson added. "Then we were dealing with poor race track conditions. There was nothing there as far as traction in that left lane. We got out in second gear and it did nothing but spin the tires."
Greg Stanfield, driver of the DBP Enterprises Dodge Neon R/T, fell in the first round of competition to Greg Anderson. Stanfield, despite holding a starting line advantage (.005-.014), was unable to hold off Anderson's 6.693-second elapsed time at 206.70 mph
"We have some work to do," Stanfield said. "I'm happy with how we qualified this weekend, but we need to improve the car a little bit. We have the power, now we need to get it on the track."