Joliet: Mopar eliminations summary

Bazemore wins as Dodge dominates Funny Car competition Scelzi sets national speed record; first to 328 mph JOLIET, Ill. (June 1, 2003) -- Matco Tools '2 Fast 2 Furious' Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car driver Whit Bazemore won his second...

Bazemore wins as Dodge dominates Funny Car competition
Scelzi sets national speed record; first to 328 mph

JOLIET, Ill. (June 1, 2003) -- Matco Tools '2 Fast 2 Furious' Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car driver Whit Bazemore won his second NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series national event of the season during today's Lucas Oil Products NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.

Bazemore defeated Tommy Johnson, Jr., in the final -- on the starting line. The Indianapolis resident logged a sizable starting-lane advantage (.069-.152) and held off Johnson with a 4.872-second elapsed time at 319.67 mph. T.J. ran a 4.839-second lap at 316.97 mph.

"This is Schumacher Racing's home race," said Bazemore, of team owner Don Schumacher -- who lives in nearby Chicago. "We have made three-straight final rounds and have had two wins out of those. It says everything about our team and this organization. My teammate (Gary Scelzi) set the national speed record today with his Dodge, so it was a tremendous effort by everyone."

Bazemore won at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., two weekends ago. He also made a final-round appearance during last weekend's show at Hearland Park Topeka (Kan.).

"Aerodynamics have played an increasingly more important role in Funny Car racing since the 90-percent rule came into effect," Bazemore noted. "It's important -- when racing Funny Cars -- that you have a manufacturer behind you. A manufacturer that has the same goals as your team and puts forth the effort to give you a car that can go out and compete at the very top of the sport. That's what Dodge and Mopar have done. They provide engineering support and wind tunnel support -- and the basic Stratus car is very good aerodynamically. Between this team and the Mopar engineers, it's turned into the fastest ever Funny Car by a considerable margin. My teammate ran the mile per hour -- we're second -- but we want to be first too."

Bazemore defeated Bob Gilbertson in the first round of eliminations, a tire-smoking Del Worsham in round two and John Lawson in the semifinal. Bazemore also moved closer in the POWERade Funny Car title chase as well, now only 36 points behind point leader Tony Pedregon.


Gary Scelzi etched his name in the NHRA record books today. The Fresno, Calif., resident officially broke the national speed record with his Oakley backed Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car entry after posting a 328.06 mph pass in his first-round victory over Tim Wilkerson. His 327.98 mph speed during yesterday's third-round qualifying session made it official.

Dodge last held the Funny Car category speed record in 1991, when Jim White traveled the Pomona (Calif.) Raceway quarter mile at 291.82 mph. The run also signified the first ever 328-mph pass in Funny Car history, obliterating the old speed mark of 326.87 mph held by Gary Densham at the season-opening Winternationals in Pomona.

Unfortunately for Scelzi and Schumacher Racing, the weekend ended in the second round of competition. He smoked the tires, pedaled the car, but was unable to catch Densham at the stripe.

"It's not just the speed record that's big -- we went 328 miles per hour," Scelzi beamed. "We ran two miles per hour better than anyone ever has out there. And that's just huge. (Aero engineer) Terry DeKoninck and all of the Mopar engineers that have built this Stratus body have given us something we can excel with. We've run better than those Fords for a while now, and now it looks like we're doing it every single race. Now, we just need to get our cars just a little bit quicker.

"We just got caught out with this lane thing," said Scelzi, talking about the oil dropped on a previous run during the second round. "We tried to do everything right. We slowed the car down, and added some spoiler to help our positioning. The lanes were junk in that session and everyone smoked the tires. It was beyond our control. I knocked the tires off of it, pedaled it three times. I didn't do the best job pedaling in my mind, but the crew is happy with me. We're gaining some momentum, but we've got a long ways to go. If we keep running these speeds, and I've been around long enough to know that this thing could pop two or three wins out in a row. It's not a fluke that we set the speed record. Our Hemi is serious with power, and that's good. You take our power, add a slippery body, and you get results. Unfortunately we're just not very patient here at Schumacher Racing, and we want it now. We're going to work through it. We're going to take a deep breath and go at it again in a couple of weeks."


Alderman Falls in Round One

Greg Stanfield powered his DBP Enterprises Dodge Neon R/T to the semifinals of today's event. Kurt Johnson ran a quicker 6.7750-second elapsed time at 203.80 mph, as Stanfield logged a 6.798-second lap at 203.31 mph.

Stanfield raced past Mark Pawuk in round one, posting the second best elapsed time of the round at 6.778 seconds at 203.31 mph. In his second round tilt, Stanfield again set the second-quickest time with a 6.806-second pass at 202.67 en route to victory over Steve Schmidt.

"We're getting a handle on it," Stanfield said. "We're going home to see if we can make some more power. We made some chassis changes -- and it helped this thing a lot. We have something to work with now."

Mopar's Darrell Alderman lost to Bruce Allen in the first round of eliminations. Alderman, a three-time POWERade Pro Stock World Champion, ran a solid 6.815-second elapsed time at 201.85 mph, but it wasn't enough as Allen clicked off a 6.788-second lap at 202.91 mph.

"We were a little loose out there," Alderman relayed. "I think we could have run a little bit better. Overall it was a pretty good run. I guess lane choice was critical today with the sun out. I don't know what the other guys did in the right (lane), but we moved around a little bit."


Shaun Carlson and his Mopar-backed Dodge Neon SRT-4 NHRA Import Series car completed its first weekend running alongside the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Carlson talked about the gains his Darrell Cox-owned team made over this inaugural 'Extreme Rush' weekend.

"Mopar wants us to be the first to run in the sevens," Carlson said. "And that's our ultimate goal. It's nice to win races, and it would be nice to win a championship, but to be the first to run a seven (second pass) would be a bigger milestone than winning a certain race.

"We fee the advantage we have right now is in our transmission," Carlson added. "We've been working pretty hard to try and get these bugs worked out. We made two test runs yesterday. Even though we had problems, every time that we too it a part, we were able to narrow it down to what we felt was the last problem. I think we're to the point where we just need a $.50 part to make it work. In fact, we just need longer ones right now.

"We've also had some tire shake," Carlson continued. "The tire we have on the car now, is the one we've had for the last year. We opted to make the change, and some of the transmission trouble we've had was due to tire shake. We were searching to try and find the problem in the trans, when it was in the tire shake."

Carlson lost in the first round of eliminations today.

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Darrell Alderman , Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Bob Gilbertson , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Gary Scelzi , Tommy Johnson , Gary Densham , Greg Stanfield , Bruce Allen , Tim Wilkerson , Steve Schmidt , Don Schumacher , Shaun Carlson