Gateway: Patterson takes provisional pole

MADISON, Ill. (June 22, 2001) - Todd Patterson stole the Pro Stock Truck Show. The Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T blistered the Gateway International Raceway quarter mile to become the provisional No. 1 qualifier for this weekend's Sears Craftsman...

MADISON, Ill. (June 22, 2001) - Todd Patterson stole the Pro Stock Truck Show. The Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T blistered the Gateway International Raceway quarter mile to become the provisional No. 1 qualifier for this weekend's Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals.

Patterson, from Augusta, Kan., set the track elapsed-time record with a 7.452-second lap at a track record top speed of 180.81 mph. If he holds on, it will be the first time Patterson will have garnered a No. 1 qualifier and the first time a Dodge has sat in the top spot in Pro Stock Truck since David Nickens did it during the 1998 Mopar Parts Nationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.

"We knew the track was going to come to us tonight," said Patterson, who sat 10th with a 7.529-second lap in the first session. "In our past experiences here at Gateway, the night session has always been better with cooler track temperatures. We tried to tune up for those conditions.

"We were a little bit conservative on our first run because we just wanted to get from A to B," Patterson continued. "We decided to go for it tonight and hit it real hard on the starting line. It launched real hard with a 1.05-second 60-foot time and charged right on through there. It felt good, but I didn't know it was that good.

"It's been four years of a lot of thrashing. From all the Dodge engineers that's been designing this new truck to my dad and all the guys back at Patterson Racing, I owe all this to them. Without those guys this wouldn't be possible.

"I almost don't know how to act because I've never been in this position before."

Patterson talked about his next-generation Dodge Dakota R/T, which debuted during the Summit NHRA Nationals at The Strip at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway earlier this year.

"We knew, even the first day we hit the track, that the potential was there," Patterson commented. "As far as what we've accomplished in the three-and-half years we've been running the Dodge truck, it definitely hasn't disappointed us at all. With the combination of an awesome truck and the guys back at the shop making more power, you're starting to see the results. If you don't keep advancing and working hard, with how close this class is, you'll get behind in a hurry. The new truck has helped a lot in that area."

Osborne Breaks Track Speed Record
Alderman Drives to the 14th Qualifying Position

Mark Osborne demonstrated the horsepower of the Hemi engine by driving his aged 2000 Mopar Parts Dodge R/T entry to a new Gateway International Speedway Pro Stock top speed record with a 200.26 mph pass.

The Abingdon, Va. resident, running a new Hemi engine after dropping a valve and shutting off early in the first-qualifying session, collected the seventh slot after managing a 6.888-second elapsed time.

"The Hemi really came alive tonight," said Osborne, currently sitting fifth in the Pro Stock points standings. "It's nice to have both cars in. We had a pretty good run. We have top speed of the event, which is pretty exciting. This Hemi is pretty awesome."

Darrell Alderman, a three-time Winston Pro Stock World Champion, slipped into the 14th-qualifying position with a 6.922-second lap at 198.79 mph.

"We made two good runs, but we're looking to pick up in the morning," Alderman said. "The track is real smooth, so it looks good for tomorrow. We lost fuel pressure during the run, so we're going to figure out what to do for tomorrow."

Skuza Solid

Dean Skuza and the Mopar Parts Dodge R/T drove to a solid fifth-place qualifying position after posting a 4.867-second pass at 310.77 mph. It was the second fastest speed of the day in Nitro Funny Car.

"We tuned it up in the staging lanes," said Skuza, who sat second heading into the second round with at 4.90-second lap. "We were going out to run a 4.88, but we saw how well some of the others were running, so we did a few things. Actually, I thought it would run a little better than it did. The belt came off, but it would have only run six thousandths better because it was so late. We're happy with it. It's a hard deal to be in the top half of the Funny Car field."

Morgan Still Searching

It was a tough first day of activity for the Dodge Motorsports R/T entry of Larry Morgan. The veteran Pro Stock competitor lies outside the top 16 with a 6.934-second elapsed time at 197.74 mph.

"We have pistons in it that are bad," Morgan said. "To be honest with you, we're not sure what's exactly wrong. The run looked pretty good, but we just don't understand."

Eaton's Fall Short

The Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T of Craig Eaton and the Mopar Parts Dodge Dakota R/T of Dale Eaton barely missed the top-16 qualifiers in today's first two rounds of Pro Stock Truck qualifying

Craig Eaton sits in the 17th position with a 7.535-second lap at 177.60 mph.

"That was kind of a bummer," C. Eaton said. "We were in, then we got bumped out by speed. It was a pretty decent run, even though I shifted a little bit too high on the first two shifts. Of course a thousandth of a second would have got me in, but what are you going to do. If we had the new truck, obviously, we would have been in."

Dale Eaton also missed the show when he drove to a 7.588/177.21 combination.

"The second one was quicker than the first one, but we had the same problems," D. Eaton commented. "We shook the heck out of in two gears and we don't know why. The rest of the run was pretty decent. Again, we just aren't leaving the starting line.

"I guess the thing we have to feel real good about is Todd and his No. 1 qualifier," Eaton continued.

-Team Mopar-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Darrell Alderman , Dean Skuza , Larry Morgan , Todd Patterson