Joliet: Mopar Saturday summary

Scelzi Highlights Mopar in Chicago JOLIET, Ill. (May 31, 2003) -- Gary Scelzi is on the verge of an official national speed record in his Oakley backed Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car. The California resident logged a 327.98 mph pass during ...

Scelzi Highlights Mopar in Chicago

JOLIET, Ill. (May 31, 2003) -- Gary Scelzi is on the verge of an official national speed record in his Oakley backed Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car. The California resident logged a 327.98 mph pass during the third-qualifying session for tomorrow's Lucas Oil Products NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.

To make it an official NHRA national speed record, Scelzi has to run within one percent of that speed (324.70 mph) this weekend. His elapsed time of 4.782 seconds was also a career best -- which was good enough for sixth place.

"I have to say thank you to Mopar, (aero engineer) Terry DeKoninck and everyone at the wind tunnel," said an excited Scelzi. "As I've said all year long, our cars have run the speed. This morning I did a radio show, and I told them we were going to run 327 or 328 (mph) this weekend. Nobody looked like they saw a ghost when I said it either. It was amazing because I was too busy in there steering the car to pay attention to how good it was pulling. It didn't surprise me because I knew what these cars were capable of. The good news is that it's a Dodge and it has a Hemi under the hood.

"It's always cool here," said Scelzi. "Even with the sun out it's still 62 degrees. When it's like that, and this race track is good anyway, it's really tight. So when we get to a track that's smooth, and the air is good here, you're going to get these type of numbers. When I ran the Top Fuel car here we ran good numbers as well. We like it because the Funny Cars are heavier -- so you can hit them harder early. When they run better at half track, they run better all the way through. I'm really excited about tomorrow. On the back up run (session four), one of the clutch discs had triple the amount of wear as normal and it put a cylinder out. That means we lost at least 750 horsepower and it just ran a 4.90."

Scelzi will face off against Tim Wilkerson in the first round of eliminations.

Whit Bazemore was also strong in his Matco Tools '2 Fast 2 Furious' Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car, clicking off a 4.776-second elapsed time at 325.69 mph. The run placed the Indiana resident into the fourth slot and a round one match up with Bob Gilbertson. Bazemore talked about his day.

"Our team has run good speeds for a while now," said Bazemore, who matched the second best speed of his career (Pomona (Calif.) Raceway Opener) today. "Having the new Dodge Stratus body has put us on the next level. It's a sign of good horsepower and good aerodynamics. We've always had the horsepower, and now we have the aerodynamics. I think you'll see both of these (Schumacher Racing) Dodges running consistently at the top of the mile per hour charts. It's exciting because that's one thing this sport is all about is speed.

"We rely so much on the weather conditions to have a good performance like that," Bazemore added. "The body gives us more leeway in the tune up. When the conditions are good, we can actually reduce the drag and maintain enough downforce to get down the track in a high horsepower car -- without smoking the tires. That's the most important thing. This summer, when the track conditions get worse, my hope is that we'll be able to significantly increase our downforce -- at the expense of some drag -- and still able to run strongly at the other end. And probably still run good mile per hour as well."


Alderman Moves to Tenth

Greg Stanfield wielded his DBP Enterprises Dodge Neon R/T to the sixth-qualified slot with a 6.794-second elapsed time at 203.09 mph. The Bossier City, La., driver will take on Mark Pawuk in the first round of eliminations.

"I'm pretty pleased with our run," Stnafield said. "We made our good pass in the right lane too, which isn't the good lane here. So we're really tickled with the horsepower that we have. The right lane has a bump in it and I hit it a little sideways. It still made a good run.

"I think lane choice is going to be a big deal tomorrow," Stanfield continued. "And I have it in round one which is outstanding."

Three-time POWERade Pro Stock World Champion Darrell Alderman drove his Hemi-powered Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T to the tenth position. He posted a 6.805-second elapsed time at 201.55 mph. Alderman has a round one match with Bruce Allen in the wait.

"We're really pleased with that run," Alderman said. "We had a great 60-foot time (.989) and we're looking forward to tomorrow. Bruce is always a tough one to go up against, but we're ready for them.

"So far, lane choice I don't think has been that big of a factor," Alderman added. "It may be a different story on Sunday, especially if the sun gets out on the track."

Gene Wilson made two more solid passes in his Mopar Parts Dodge Stratus R/T today, but it wasn't enough to crack into the top 16. The Adairsville, Ga., resident ran a 6.816-second elapsed time at 202.18 mph during the third session -- placing him 18th.

Mopar Teammate Allen Johnson had a difficult day. Johnson, driver of the Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T, barely missed qualifying for the show with a 6.824-second lap at 201.94 mph -- set during Friday's first session.

"These motors are so finicky," said Johnson, who dropped a valve during today's third-qualifying session. "You need a couple of runs to tune on them and we didn't have that today. We made two runs on that motor -- and on that second run we tuned it up a little. It still has more left. The other motor we had, we hit it right in the first session, and we didn't have to change it much. We didn't get quite so lucky on this engine and it didn't run as well."

Mopar's Larry Morgan failed to make the show in his Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T. He ran a 6.845-second elapsed time at 200.53 mph,.


Mopar NHRA Sport Compact Series racer Shaun Carson brought his Mopar-backed SRT-4 for exhibition passes at this weekend's Lucas Oil Products NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.

"This is the first Extreme Rush weekend (at an NHRA national event) for the sport compact cars and drivers," Carlson said. "For us, it's a little intimidating having all of the professional racers and fans here. Unfortunately, we really haven't had time since our Florida event (Gainesville Raceway) to run. We also had to go back to California for the Hot Import Nights event, so we had literally no time to get back out here and got here Saturday morning at 3 a.m.

"We had a new transmission in it, but we had hurt it testing," Carlson added. "We knew we were going to run into some problems today. We figured we were going to try some new things and if they worked, we were going to run in the seven-second range. Which is something we haven't done yet. It would be great to do it in front of everyone. Unfortunately we've had some problems with the transmission and the springs. It's actually minor, but we just don't have the larger springs to run here yet. We've been here one time before, and I feel this is one of the nicest tracks in the United States. It's pretty amazing here. Now that we've gone back to our old set up -- the one we had in Florida -- and now, after our last pass, we should go out there an run pretty well. I think we can run middle to low eights tomorrow. Hopefully it will be GM and us in the final just like it was in Florida."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Darrell Alderman , Mark Pawuk , Bob Gilbertson , Whit Bazemore , Gary Scelzi , Larry Morgan , Gene Wilson , Greg Stanfield , Bruce Allen , Tim Wilkerson , Allen Johnson