Joliet II: Mopar Saturday summary

Wilson claims first no. 1 qualifier; Mopar sweeps top-three another historical day for Mopar's Pro Stock program. JOLIET, Ill.-- Pro Stock rookie Gene Wilson led the way as Hemi-powered Pro Stock Neon R/T entries swept the top-three ...

Wilson claims first no. 1 qualifier; Mopar sweeps top-three another historical day for Mopar's Pro Stock program.

JOLIET, Ill.-- Pro Stock rookie Gene Wilson led the way as Hemi-powered Pro Stock Neon R/T entries swept the top-three positions today for this weekend's 75th Anniversary Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.

Wilson, driver of the Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T, grabbed his first career No. 1 qualifier with a 6.819-second elapsed time at 201.73 mph. The Georgia resident backed up his round-two effort by also collecting the quickest elapsed time of the fourth round at 6.833 seconds. It's the first time in NHRA history a Dodge has occupied the top-three slots in Pro Stock competition.

"The Memphis race was definitely a high point for this team," said Wilson, talking about the first final-round appearance of his career at Memphis Motorsports Park last weekend."To come out here and qualify No. 1 says a lot about my team. (team owner) David Nickens, (crew chief) Tommy Utt and all the guys on this team seem like they work 24/7; just to get qualified. The class is so close and that's what it takes to succeed. We're measuring qualifying positions by thousandths of a second. There's just no room for error out there.

"I also want to thank all the Mopar engineers," Wilson added."They have really been pouring a lot of support and engineering into this program right now. We're really starting to turn things around.

"In Pro Stock, there is no margin for error," Wilson added."There's always somebody at the back of the line that will capitalize on your mistakes. It sure does put a little pressure on me as a driver. But I think it's a good thing. You've go to learn to control the emotions and perfect the concentration level that's required. You can't let that get out of hand and jump the gun."

Allen Johnson and his Hemi-powered Dodge Neon R/T took home the second-qualifying position at 6.821 seconds and 201.97 mph; while Greg Stanfield nabbed third with a 6.821-second elapsed time at 201.46 mph. It matched Stanfield's best run of the season after qualifying third in Memphis (Tenn.) last weekend.

"It's coming together for us," Stanfield said." We have the right combination, but it's up to the driver now. If we can keep it consistent, and get my left foot to move when it's supposed to, we can go some rounds. And I think lane choice is going to be so critical tomorrow.

"I think we're showing how much power we have," Stanfield added."We still have a lot of potential and a lot of stuff to try. We're not done. We have a long ways to go. We have to get to the top."

Wilson matches up against Mark Osborne in the first round of eliminations; while Allen Johnson takes on Greg Anderson. Stanfield will run Tom Hammonds in an opening salvo tomorrow.

In addition, four Mopar-powered machines were slotted in the top half of the field as John Geyer copped seventh.

DEAN SKUZA, driver of the Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T

Dean Skuza kept up his string of strong performances by placing his Mopar Parts Dodge Stratus R/T in the fifth-qualifying position. The Brecksville, Ohio, resident ripped off his quickest elapsed time of the season at 4.805 seconds at 308.21 mph during last night's second session.

Skuza will face off against Bob Gilbertson in round one tomorrow.

"Our cannon insert, or the case, was moving around up in the staging lanes," said Skuza, who smoked the tires during the last session."That's the only thing I can think of that slowed us. We didn't make any changes or put any more power in it than we had last night. We had the exact same clutch on it. We played with it on the back end, to see if we could run a 4.78. It didn't move off the line. We wanted to change it, and if knew how long the Top Fuel session was going to be, we would have."

LARRY MORGAN, driver of the Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T

Larry Morgan completed an abbreviated weekend of qualifying outside the field in his blue Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T. The Newark, Ohio, native clocked in with a 6.878-second elapsed time at 200.38 mph.

"We didn't make too bad of runs for only running today," said Morgan, who arrived late on Friday with a new Hemi engine and missed the first day of qualifying."We were behind the eight ball weekend. We had some trouble on the dyno late on Thursday. We made a good run this morning, and I think we had enough to get in."

DARRELL ALDERMAN, driver of the Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T

Darrell Alderman ended a frustrating weekend of qualifying outside the top 16. The Morehead, Ky., resident and driver of the Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T ran a 6.868-second elapsed time at 200.50 mph.

"We made better runs today," Alderman said."The car moved to the left a little on the last run, we spun the tires a little, but it seemed to be better. We'll take a look at it and get them in Dallas in a couple of weeks."

-Mopar.com-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Darrell Alderman , Bob Gilbertson , Dean Skuza , Greg Anderson , Larry Morgan , Gene Wilson , Tom Hammonds , Allen Johnson