Johnson pilots Dodge Stratus to first Pro Stock final Stanfield to the Semifinals MADISON, Ill. (June 29, 2003) -- History will have to wait. But, maybe not for long as Allen Johnson wielded his Mopar Parts Dodge Stratus to the car's first final...
Johnson pilots Dodge Stratus to first Pro Stock final
Stanfield to the Semifinals
MADISON, Ill. (June 29, 2003) -- History will have to wait. But, maybe not for long as Allen Johnson wielded his Mopar Parts Dodge Stratus to the car's first final during tonight's Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway International Raceway.
Johnson, who was in his second final (Pomona, Calif.) of the season, was barely edged at the stripe by Ron Krisher. The Greeneville, Tenn., resident clocked a 6.840-second elapsed time at 201.73 mph. Krisher ran a slower 6.843-second pass at 201.64 mph, but took a slight starting-line advantage to win, just 25 points behind Krisher for fifth.
Johnson moved to the finals by defeating Mopar mate Larry Morgan in round one, Kurt Johnson in round two and Greg Stanfield's Dodge in round three. Johnson recorded a 6.873-second lap at 201.28 mph in his second round match. Tonight's efforts vaulted Johnson into sixth in the POWERade Pro Stock point race.
"We can't fuss because it was a good weekend," said a dejected Johnson. "I've just struggled all year with those new bulbs. It was all I had on my mind on that last run -- I didn't want to red light. You just can't race like that, and I have to figure out a way to get that out of my mind."
"Runner up is a lot better than 38 other people here," Johnson added. "You always want to win every race, but if you can go to at least the semis every week, you're going to be right there in the points hunt. The season is just half over. I think we're on to something wit these new Stratus cars."
"Dad (Roy Johnson) is really doing a good job with the motors heading into Denver," Johnson added. "This is a good heads up thing and we just have to keep our focus."
Johnson also drove his Stratus to the semifinals at the last event in Hebron, Ohio.
"The Stratus is an awesome race car," Johnson said. "Darrell (Alderman) is not as familiar with his new Stratus. These cars drive totally different than the Neon. We're going out to Denver next week to test -- and Darrell will get a few more laps on his car as well. Maybe we'll go out there and kick some butt. And this time we won't give it up."
It was a solid night for the DBP Enterprises Dodge Neon of Greg Stanfield. The Bossier City, La., resident had a strong day of driving before falling to fellow Mopar runner Allen Johnson. Stanfield ran a 6.876-second lap at 201.07 mph.
Stanfield advanced with a rousing round one upset of No. 1 qualifier Warren Johnson. The second-year Pro Stock driver had a (.018-.097) reaction time advantage and was able to hold off Johnson's session low elapsed time of 6.845 seconds. Stanfield clocked a 6.917-second pass at 200.32 mph. Stanfield then defeated Jim Yates with an impressive .008 of a second light and a 6.889-second lap at 199.94 mph.
"We're fighting this war here, and it's a big one," Stanfield commented. "We're just trying to make rounds so we know what to do one race day. Those LED lights at night sure are different. Knowing that our performance was a little bit down, we knew that we had to step it up somewhere -- and that's my job."
Darrell Alderman and the Mopar Parts Dodge Stratus dropped his first round match with Greg Anderson. The Morehead, Ky., resident ran a 6.909-second lap at 200.80 mph as Anderson ran a 6.869/202.09 combination.
"The car reacted to the right lane a lot better than I though it would," Alderman said. "We ran a 6.90 over there, which is respectable. It's hard to do anything with a 6.86-second run. We'll go get them in Denver."
Larry Morgan fell to Mopar teammate Allen Johnson in the first round of eliminations. Morgan ran a quicker 6.895-second elapsed time at 200.38 mph, but he didn't have enough to run down Johnson at the top end.
"I'm so proud of these guys this weekend," Morgan said. "I think we've turned the corner. The car was very consistent and quick this weekend -- and I couldn't be happier with what the team has done. We'll go testing in Denver and see if we can't get one there."
MOPAR FUNNY CAR ELIMINATION NOTES...
Whit Bazemore and his Matco Tools Dodge Stratus failed to advance past the first round of eliminations for the first time this season. The Indianapolis resident, who ran a 5.220-second lap at 271.30 mph, lost to Ron Capps and his 5.078-second elapsed time at 297.35 mph.
"Things just didn't go our way today," Bazemore said. "We were the quickest to the 330 (foot) mark and we had the quickest eighth-mile run. But, it was already smoking the tires pretty heavily at that point. For some reason, we overpowered the track -- and we knew where we were with the tune up. We were very conservative on that run. The Matco Tools Dodge is an animal sometimes and it just reared up and bit us."
Gary Scelzi, driver of the Oakley sponsored Dodge Stratus Funny Car, was nipped at the finish by John Force. Scelzi clocked a 5.192-second pass at 286.50 mph, but it wasn't enough to run down Force's 5.128-second pass at 300.20 mph.
"We learned a lot of stuff this weekend," Scelzi said. "We ran part of the new stuff that we're going to be trying. We'll have everything in place by Denver. I honestly believe that nobody will want to park next to the Oakley Dodge come Sonoma.
"We showed a lot of promise," Scelzi continued. "When we get the rest of this stuff, we'll continue to see improvement. I wish I could tell everyone what it's all about, but I don't want folks to know."