Gainesville: Mopar Motorsports eliminations summary

Mopar teams trek to the Semifinals. Johnson, Bazemore and Scelzi make noise at Gainesville. GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 16, 2003) -- It was a good day if you drove a Mopar-powered NHRA car today. Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson; and Funny Car...

Mopar teams trek to the Semifinals.
Johnson, Bazemore and Scelzi make noise at Gainesville.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 16, 2003) -- It was a good day if you drove a Mopar-powered NHRA car today. Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson; and Funny Car drivers Gary Scelzi and Whit Bazemore drove to the semifinals of this weekend's 34th annual Mac Tools Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.

Johnson lost lane choice in his semifinal match up with defending Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin. Jr. The Greenville, Tenn., resident logged a 6.873-second elapsed time at 202.02 mph, but it wasn't enough to beat out Coughlin's 6.850/200.66, combination. Johnson advanced to the semifinals with a first round victory over Mopar teammate Darrell Alderman and a second round triumph over No. 1 qualifier Bruce Allen.

"We were fortunate to get that far today," Johnson said. "We seem to be a little off this weekend. We were having some trouble in the front half of the runs. I don't know if it's our set up combination or what. Getting to the semis is always awesome. If we do that every other race we'll be in contention for the title at the end of the year."

A PAIR OF SEMIFINALS FOR DODGE FUNNY CARS...

Gary Scelzi and his Dodge Motorsports/Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car moved his way through the elimination ladder as well. The California resident defeated 11-time NHRA POWERade World Champion John Force in round one and Dean Skuza in round two; before losing Gary Densham in the semifinals.

"We came out today and played hard," Scelzi said. "We took out John Force in round one and then took out Skuza. We would have taken out Densham too. We were ahead and put a hole out, or had an ignition problem. The good news is that the Dodge is a bad Jose. It's earned a lot of respect over the last three races because it so consistent, fast and goes down the race track.

"We're going to stay on Monday and get out supercharger program in order," Scelzi added. "We're getting better. We moved to seventh in points. We're fixing our problem early so we can go race later. We want to be number one."

Whit Bazemore broke the Gainesville Raceway Funny Car track speed record en route to a semifinal round effort in his Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T. Bazemore clocked a track record speed of 324.32 mph in his first round defeat of Cruz Pedregon. The 40-year-old veteran then outran Johnny Gray in round number two. Del Worsham outdueled Bazemore in the semifinals.

"I'm a little disappointed with the way things worked out this weekend," Bazemore noted. "We really want to put this new Dodge Stratus R/T onto the map. We had top speed -- but that wasn't really what we had in mind.

"We really want to show the drag racing community the potential of this new body and the true potential of this team," Bazemore added. "Vegas could be really good for us."

NOTES:

- DARRELL ALDERMAN, MOPAR PART DODGE NEON R/T "It started shaking really hard out of second gear," Alderman said. "It really started to spin at the top of low gear -- and it shook real hard in second -- and I had to come out of it. The track was really slick for us out there. We might have had the clutch a little heavy because we had a real tough competitor."

- BEST ENGINEERED The Dodge Motorsports/Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T of Gary Scelzi and Don Schumacher Racing was named the 'Best Engineered' NHRA car for this weekend's Mac Tools Gatornationals.

-Mopar.com-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , Bruce Allen , Allen Johnson , Johnny Gray