Englishtown: Mopar Saturday summary

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 17, 2003) -- Allen Johnson heads a contingent of four Hemi-powered Pro Stock machines into tomorrow's 34th annual K&N Filters NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. With a bump spot of 6.741 seconds, it's...

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 17, 2003) -- Allen Johnson heads a contingent of four Hemi-powered Pro Stock machines into tomorrow's 34th annual K&N Filters NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. With a bump spot of 6.741 seconds, it's the quickest field in Pro Stock history.

Johnson took home the fifth-qualifying position with a career-best 6.718-second elapsed time at 205.26 mph -- also a career mark. The Greeneville, Tenn., resident will face off against Troy Coughlin in round one.

Johnson also ran in the first round of the King Demon Crown, falling to No. 1 qualifier Greg Anderson. Johnson completed the second-quickest pass in round one of the KDC at 6.751 seconds and 204.91 mph, but red lit at the start to end his day.

"The worst run we made all weekend was in the King Demon Crown," Johnson said. "It really didn't matter on the track because I red lit, but this team has done an awesome job. (Teammate) Darrell (Alderman) hasn't really made a good run all weekend. They have been trying some stuff, so I think they can learn from us and put together a good set up.

"We can really run out of either lane," Johnson continued. "We've been working with the transmission ratio -- and trying to get it to where the motor likes it. We've made probably the best runs we can make this weekend."

Three-time POWERade Pro Stock World Champion Darrell Alderman wielded his Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T into the 11th-qualifed spot. The Morehead, Ky., resident logged a career best 6.734-second elapsed time at a career best 205.26 mph, setting up a first round match with Mark Pawuk.

"We were looking to run a 6.73 on that last one," said Alderman, after posting a 6.760-second elapsed time in his last qualifying effort. "We tried some things on that last run and it didn't work. We had a different set of tires and different set of headers, so we're going back to our original set up for tomorrow.

"The lanes seem to be pretty equal out there," Alderman continued. "Who knows what the conditions will be like tomorrow with the sun shining. It may end up changing them quite a bit."

Mopar's Gene Wilson placed his new Dodge Stratus R/T Pro Stocker into the field. A career best pass of 6.714 seconds at 205.44 mph (also a career best) qualified Wilson in the 15th position. The Georgia resident, will face Jeg Coughlin, Jr., in round one.

"We made a real nice pass on that last one," said Wilson, who was on the outside looking in heading into the last-qualifying session. "We've been struggling for the past two races to find out what the problem has been with our car. We finally hit on a chassis tune up this weekend that's really going to help our program. All of the guys on my team have been working extremely hard. It just seemed like it wasn't getting any better. All of a sudden, we made some changes that were 'iffy' if they were going to help us, but they did. It was what we've been looking for. The car was awesome. It went straight down the track like it should and the elapsed time showed it with a 6.741.

"We're proud to run that Stratus," Wilson added. "We've just been struggling in the set up area. I know it's taken a while to get there -- but this weekend especially -- we've made some big strides in the set up department. It takes a team effort. We've put our minds together and worked on this thing and everyone is following in the same direction."

Greg Stanfield and his DBP Enterprises Dodge Neon R/T squeaked into the field with a 6.741-secomd elapsed time at 205.04 mph, but both were career bests for the Bossier City, La., resident. His pass also represented the anchor for the quickest Pro Stock field in history -- laying out a first round match with No. 1 qualifier Greg Anderson.

"We ran well in the first part of the pass," said Stanfield, of his last qualifying outing. "The track is simply awesome out there. We're in 'lala' land. It's incredible. You still have to make good runs to make it happen. This was such a herd field to qualify for -- so were just happy to be in it."

Larry Morgan wound up outside the top 16 with his Hemi-powered Dodge Neon R/T. But the Newark, Ohio, resident, was pleased with his performance over the weekend after posting a 6.777-second elapsed time at 203.34 mph.

"We need a little more time to run this new car," said Morgan, on his Dodge Neon R/T entry. "We got out of the groove pretty bad on that last run. We shook pretty hard too. We went 203 (mph) on that run and the car was all over the place. So we're happy because we know we have something left. I think we're on the road to recovery."

Both Mopar Funny Cars Qualify in the Top Half... Bazemore Grabs Fifth; Scelzi Tops Funny Car Speed Chart for the Weekend

Rain shortened qualifying for the Funny Car this weekend -- so both Schumacher Racing Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Cars had to scramble to get into the show within just two sessions.

Bazemore, who was not qualified heading into the last session, ripped off a 4.836-second elapsed time at 313.44 mph to collect the fifth-qualifying position. The Indianapolis resident, will line up against Cruz Pedregon in the first round of competition.

"The Dodge Stratus body has always helped this year, especially over what we've had in the past," Bazemore said. "It's simply a better-engineered, well thought out design. And it's better aerodynamically for a Funny Car. In this sport, every little advantage works in your favor because we're winning and losing races by one, one thousandth of a second. If one percent of a drag coefficient equals one, one thousandth of a second, then that's an improvement we definitely want to have.

"I think the racing tomorrow should be spectacular," Bazemore added. "I really believe qualifying today would have been unbelievable if we had all made at least one run yesterday. But with the weather we've had and the fact that everyone just wanted to qualify today, no one could really roll the dice. We did roll them a little bit in the first round and we weren't in the show when we came up for our second run. When you put yourself in that position, you really leave yourself open for a potential disaster if you have a mechanical failure of any type. The team did a great job, and all of our equipment was really good, and we ended up fifth."

Gary Scelzi rolled his Matco Tools-backed Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car through the timing lights with a 4.851-second elapsed time at 322.65 mph. It was the fastest recorded speed thus far this weekend and allowed Scelzi to match with Schumacher Racing teammate Scotty Cannon in round one tomorrow.

"We put it back exactly the way we ran it at the beginning of the year -- except for the body," said Scelzi, who ran a special body this weekend for sponsor Matco Tools. "We're going to put the Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T body back on. The body we ran this weekend had been repaired -- and seemed a little heavier -- so we're putting the tried and true Dodge Dealers body back on it for tomorrow.

"We were just a little bit too aggressive on that second run," Scelzi continued. "I got it out of the groove, and you just can't do that during one of those runs. I'm going to sleep tight -- and worry about what I have to do for tomorrow -- tomorrow. We have top speed of the meet -- so that's great for Dodge. All the hard work that (Lead Aero Engineer) Terry DeKoninck and all of the guys in the Mopar engineering department have put into this Stratus body is starting to show. We're pretty proud of that.

"They call it a 'mineshaft' here," Scelzi added. "The air is so heavy here it's below sea level. I can't believe what the Pro Stock cars have been running this weekend. But when you see that with their naturally aspirated engines -- it's a pretty serious deal out there. We didn't try to get too crazy, but we had it set up to run better than a 4.79 -- which is my career best. We'll just pull it back a tick tomorrow and see what it will do."

-Mopar.com-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Troy Coughlin , Darrell Alderman , Mark Pawuk , Gary Scelzi , Greg Anderson , Larry Morgan , Scotty Cannon , Gene Wilson , Cruz Pedregon , Greg Stanfield , Allen Johnson