Gainesville: Mopar Saturday notes

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 17, 2001) - The Hemi-powered Dodge R/T Pro Stock entries of Darrell Alderman and Mark Osborne each qualified well during the second day of the 32nd annual Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. Alderman ran a career best...

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 17, 2001) - The Hemi-powered Dodge R/T Pro Stock entries of Darrell Alderman and Mark Osborne each qualified well during the second day of the 32nd annual Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.

Alderman ran a career best 6.852-second elapsed time at 201.16 mph to capture the second position for tomorrow's event. The Mopar Parts-sponsored veteran will face long-time rival Warren Johnson in round one.

"We changed some things on that last qualifying run," said the three-time Winston Pro Stock World Champion. "We moved a little weight and it didn't like it. That's why I shut it off because the tires shook pretty hard. We'll go back to our other setup and get ready for the race tomorrow."

Mark Osborne, who also wields a Hemi-mounted Dodge R/T Pro Stocker, waited until the final session to make the field. The Abingdon, Va. resident moved up to the ninth slot with an impressive 6.882/200.95 combination. Osborne will face fellow Mopar Parts driver Rickie Smith in the first round.

"We've been stepping up on every run," said Osborne. "We real pleased with how we improved over the weekend. We bettered our 60-foot time form 1.04 (seconds) to 1.02 and that was the difference on the top end."

Nickens Brothers Racing crew chief Mark Ingersoll worked on the cars all weekend.

"We started off real good by tweaking on the clutch," said Ingersoll. "On the last run with Darrell, we tried to scuff a new set of tires and it hurt us. We usually try to do that testing, but we didn't have a set to try, so we decided to do it on that last run.

"On Mark's car, we just kept trying to take more clutch out of it on each run," Ingersoll continued. "Even on that last run, it had too much clutch and it bogged down a little bit. If the weather conditions get cooler tomorrow, we'll change low gear in the transmission. If there is increased humidity, we'll just run three-quarters of a degree more timing."

A quick change after round three did the trick as Dodge Motorsports driver Larry Morgan vaulted into the 11th position after the final qualifying session for the 32nd annual Gatornationals at Gainseville Raceway today.

Morgan and his Hemi-powered Dodge R/T Pro Stock machine were squarely on the bubble heading into the final session, but a solid 6.884-second pass at 200.35 mph put Morgan in the show. The eight-time Pro Stock NHRA national event winner will face off against Kurt Johnson in round one.

"After the third session we knew something was wrong because of the tire shake," said Morgan. "We found that we needed to add a pound and a half of air in the right tire. I tell you what; I'm looking forward to tomorrow. We made some great strides this weekend."

Crew chief Billy Wagner was also pleased.

"We chased it all weekend," Wagner commented. "We knew something wasn't right during the third run. I just went back over the whole car to see if I could find the problem. We did and it worked."

The Mopar Parts Dodge R/T Nitro Funny Car of Dean Skuza picked up the pace in the second day of qualifying for the 32nd annual Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway today.

Skuza, who grabbed the top spot during the most recent event in Firebird Internationbal Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., grasped the third spot with a 4.881-second lap at 310.34 mph. Skuza will face Gary Densham in round one.

"I was hoping the cooler air wouldn't screw up that last run," the two-time NHRA national event winner said. "It was just what we wanted."

Clutch specialist John Stewart, who became the new co-crew chief at Skuza Motorsports prior to the 2001 season, has brought some consistency to the veteran team.

"We got here and smoked the tires on our first two runs," said Stewart, who guided Jim Epler to a U.S. Nationals victory last season. "We found a couple of things in the short block and made the changes. We came out the first run today and went right down the track.

"The reason we have back-to-back record fields in Funny Car is that there are so many two-car teams that are out here," Stewart said. "The quality on these team is tremendous. I think Funny

Car has turned into what Top Fuel used to be a few years ago. It's come to a point where we've gotten a close as Pro Stock. Everybody is finally catching up with (John) Force.

"Another factor is that the tracks and tires are getting better. When you look at it closely, I think its been the advancements made in the tires. These new tires have really made a difference because they are so much more forgiving.

It was a stellar day for Rickie Smith and his semi-factory backed Dodge R/T Pro Stock mount.

The Hemi-powered Dodge Motorsports machine of Smith nabbed the eighth-qualifying position for tomorrow's 32nd annual Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway with a 6.880-second lap at 200.20 mph. The King, N.C. resident, who also tunes for Team Koretsky, will take on Dodge teammate Mark Osborne in round one.

We're real happy with this weekend's efforts," said Smith, who is running in only his second NHRA national as a Dodge driver. "We found some things after Phoenix, and it showed in our performance this weekend. We needed to do a little clutch work."

Kenny Koretsky, who will soon run a Mopar-sponsored machine, missed the 16-car field with a 6.943-second pass at 190.48 mph. Koretsky was a bit disappointed.

"I knew we had a nice run in the car," Koretsky said. "I shook the tires, got out of the groove, and that was it. Since these fields are so tight, it's real tough to get in. The new Neons can't get here soon enough."

Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T driver Todd Patterson took home the 12th position during the final day of qualifying for the 32nd annual Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.

Patterson drove to a 7.495-second elapsed time at 178.78 mph, putting the Augusta, Kan.s resident in position to face Victor Cagnazzi in round one. Patterson racing owner and engine builder Alan Patterson was pleased with the effort.

"We just kept working on the setup all weekend and it finally worked," Patterson said. "Todd did a nice job of driving, which makes my job easier. We are making a lot of horsepower and we're getting a better handle on the clutch."

Craig Eaton and his Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T slid into the 32nd annual Gatornationals field at Gainesville Raceway in the 16th-qualifying spot.

Eaton, who ran a 7.504-second lap at 178.85 mph combination, is happy to be running on Sunday. "It's so nice to finally be in a show," the younger Eaton commented. "I know we have Randy Daniels in round one, which is tough, but you just never know. We might as well get him now."

Daniels grabbed the No. 1 qualifying slot.

Dale Eaton, who drives the Mopar Parts/ATSCO Dodge Dakota R/T entry barely missed the top 16 with a 7,528/178.90 combination.

"We had a really good weekend," Dale Eaton noted. "I'm just so relieved that Craig got into the show. It's been a long time. We did a lot of testing over the break. It really paid off."

-Mopar

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Series NHRA
Drivers Darrell Alderman , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Jim Epler , Dean Skuza , Larry Morgan , Todd Patterson , Randy Daniels , Gary Densham , Kenny Koretsky , Rickie Smith