Las Vegas II: Mopar Saturday summary

Morgan leads way for Mopar Pro Stock effort; Mopar Funny Car qualifying wrap. LAS VEGAS (Oct. 25, 2003) -- Larry Morgan brought home the 10th slot to head the Mopar Pro Stock campaign at this weekend's NHRA national event at The Strip at the Las...

Morgan leads way for Mopar Pro Stock effort; Mopar Funny Car qualifying wrap.

LAS VEGAS (Oct. 25, 2003) -- Larry Morgan brought home the 10th slot to head the Mopar Pro Stock campaign at this weekend's NHRA national event at The Strip at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Morgan, who clocked in at 6.911 seconds and 199.91 mph, will face off against veteran Jim Yates in the first round of eliminations.

"We blew the tires off on that that last one," Morgan said. "We made a change in the transmission and it was just the wrong way. It wouldn't run because of it. We're just real happy to get both cars in pretty good. For the most part, I'm pretty happy. And I don't think lane choice is going to matter tomorrow."

Mopar's Gene Wilson was on the outside looking in at the beginning of the day, but a clutch third qualifying run of 6.915 seconds at 200.11 mph. The 2002 NHRA Rookie of the Year has Kurt Johnson in round one.

"I think we could have improved in that last session, but made a simple mistake," said Wilson, who had to abort his fourth-round effort. "A simple button kept us from leaving the starting line. We have a good race day tune up and we're going to head into battle ready to go.

"There's always extra pressure when you have failed qualifying attempts," Wilson continued. "Usually when you have a bad run on the first one, it just sets a bad tone for the whole weekend. Luck was on our side a little bit this morning and we got in there this morning."

Darrell Alderman wound up outside the top 16 when the day was done. The three-time POWERade Pro Stock World Champion fell to the 18th slot with a 6.928-second elapsed time at 198.90 mph. The bump was set at 6.918 seconds.

"We both made pretty good runs," Alderman said. "But, I don't think we got everything out of it we should have. We'll test some this next week and tune up for Pomona (Calif.)."

Teammate Allen Johnson had the same fate befall him. The Greeneville, Tenn., resident missed the show with a 6.929-second elapsed time at 199.37 mph. Johnson is trying to hold on to fifth in POWERade points.

"I don't know where we're missing at," Johnson said. "We (Darrell Alderman) both made good runs, but these Pro Stock fields are just so tight that I just don't know what to say. We're bummed out because we sure didn't need this. We had hopes of doing well in points at the end of the year, but we just made that a larger problem. We'll stay here Monday and test and see if we can figure things out."

Bazemore Heads Funny Car Qualifying...

Weather conditions were favorable this evening as the temperatures continued to drop, and by the time the final pair of Whit Bazemore and Tony Pedregon came to the line in the final qualifying session it was at its coolest, 73 degrees.

What might have turned into a potential No. 1 qualifying run for Bazemore ended up being good for only No. 6, as his Matco Tools Dodge Stratus Funny Car started dropping cylinders just short of the finish line. Despite this, the driver vying for the Funny Car title posted a decent 4.825-second pass at 309.98 mph. He experienced a similar problem in today's third qualifying session with his 4.982/251.06 lap.

"It's been difficult this weekend," Bazemore said. "We made a decent run Friday night (4.847/310.05) and the other times we struggled with little problems. We have some kind of gremlin in the car right now that we've got to find for tomorrow, but tomorrow is a new day. The Matco Tools Dodge guys are the very best at what they do, and we'll have a race car that's capable of winning the race and that's what we're counting on."

As for his rival for the Funny Car championship, who qualified No. 1: "Those guys are doing a good job over there," he said. "They're not going to give it to us easily. We're ready. We're pretty aggressive right now; we're feeling good."

In the final qualifying session today, Scotty Cannon was on a strong run but came a little too close to the left-side guard wall with his Oakley Time Bomb Dodge Stratus Funny Car en route to the finish line, resulting in a 5.333-second run at 201.52 mph.

His impressive Friday night pass of 4.863 seconds at 322.34 mph held up to keep him in the top half of the field for the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, but he dropped to No. 8 after also smoking the tires at the top end in today's third qualifying session.

"It was running as good or better than our .86," he said. "And it kind of got out of the groove on me a little bit. The belt came off and it spun the tire. It was running good."

Gary Scelzi and his Oakley Time Bomb Dodge Stratus Funny Car team qualified No. 10 for the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, the penultimate round of the 2003 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, by virtue of a 4.916/313.51 pass in today's third qualifying session.

In his final qualifying pass he coasted across the finish line in 9.711 seconds at 88.25 mph

"We have been running way lean because the air is so dry there are no water grains in it," he said. "And that was one of the reasons I over-revved it in the burnout last night. You speed the blower up because you're at altitude, but you're in the desert so you need more fuel. So we made the change on that last run and it was better, but we still didn't have enough on it.

"Tomorrow we should be back to normal. The tune-up should be what we want it to be, and we're going to chase Force. And hopefully he'll be seeing the back of the Oakley Dodge like he's seen twice this year."

Scelzi will face John Force in the first round of final eliminations, whom he's beat two out of the three times they've met this season.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Darrell Alderman , Kurt Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Larry Morgan , Scotty Cannon , Gene Wilson , Allen Johnson