CLERMONT, Ind. (Sept. 5, 2003) -- A week made quite a difference for Larry Morgan and his new Hemi-powered Dodge Stratus. After a week-long wait due to record amounts of heavy rain in the Indianapolis area, the third round of qualifying went off...
CLERMONT, Ind. (Sept. 5, 2003) -- A week made quite a difference for Larry Morgan and his new Hemi-powered Dodge Stratus.
After a week-long wait due to record amounts of heavy rain in the Indianapolis area, the third round of qualifying went off today for the 49th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Ohio's Morgan, who was in the 15th spot following last week's first two sessions, clicked off a 6.813-second elapsed time at 203.43 mph to collect the provisional fifth position.
"We went testing and it paid off for us," said Morgan, who beat his current crew chief/consultant Bob Glidden to win the 1989 U.S. Nationals. "I'm just so elated right now for Mopar and this whole race team. To get a car going that fast right now is quite a deal. We really needed this.
"I think Gene just made a bad run because he was the first one out," continued Morgan, on teammate Gene Wilson's car. "He ran within a hundredth of me during testing. So he should get in as well. For Bob (Glidden) and all of the guys back at the shop, this is such a great deal. This new Stratus is a great race car and I can't say enough for what (Mopar aero-thermal engineer) Terry (DeKoninck) has done to get this car prepared. The Mopar engineers have really worked hard on this car and has gotten it right."
Morgan's speed was the fourth fastest of the weekend thus far.
Teammate Gene Wilson is also close in his Mopar Parts Dodge Stratus. The Georgia resident logged a 6.837-second elapsed time at 202.55 mph, only .002 of a second off the bump. Wilson was upbeat about his effort.
"It was a good run for us," said Wilson, who drove to the second round in last year's Nationals. "We were the first pair out unfortunately, which meant there was no rubber on the track and it was hard to make that up. We had to make our own way. We ran a 6.83 and stayed pretty well near the bump. Tomorrow, we'll be in the mid to the back of the qualifying pack, so we'll have some good rubber and traction to follow and I believe we'll get right in the program."
Mopar's Allen Johnson almost squeaked into this tough U.S. Nationals field. The veteran Pro Stock driver clicked off a 6.845-second elapsed time at 201.40 mph. It was a run Johnson would like to have back.
"We made a good run," Johnson said. "We just knew we were going to light the board up on that last run. We worked on our motors and we really thought we had them back to where the cars have been all year. Well, I guess we're not there. We made the changes we thought we should have made and they still didn't run. We're scratching our heads.
"I'd say tomorrow's session will be about the same," Johnson continued. "If we can figure out what's wrong, we'll easily get into the field. We just don't know where it went."
Three-time NHRA POWERade Pro Stock World Champion Darrell Alderman found the third session of qualifying not to his liking. Alderman, who won this event back in 1991, knocked out a 6.863-second pass at 200.35 mph.
"The run didn't look that bad on the computer," Alderman said. "We don't know what's wrong for sure. We think maybe the tires we have on there is hurting us some. We'll possibly change those for tomorrow and maybe tune it up a little bit."
Greg Stanfield and the DBP Enterprises Dodge Neon drove to the provisional 14th-qualifying position with a 6.834-second run at 201.16 mph. Team owner Bart Price talked about the run.
"We're pretty pleased considering that was our test engine," Price said. "We hurt our two best engines during testing, but we made some strides with that run. We should be able to go a little quicker tomorrow morning."
NOTE: This is the first NHRA national event of the season that all four factory Mopar drivers are competing with the new Dodge Stratus Pro Stock entry.