Madison: Mopar Saturday summary

Four Mopars Crack Into Pro Stock Field Bazemore & Scelzi Qualify in the Top Half MADISON, Ill. (June 28, 2003) -- Allen Johnson leads a group of four Mopar-powered Pro Stock cars headed to tomorrow night's elimination rounds of the Sears...

Four Mopars Crack Into Pro Stock Field
Bazemore & Scelzi Qualify in the Top Half

MADISON, Ill. (June 28, 2003) -- Allen Johnson leads a group of four Mopar-powered Pro Stock cars headed to tomorrow night's elimination rounds of the Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway International Raceway, just outside St. Louis.

Johnson, who pilots the Mopar Parts Dodge Stratus, grabbed the fifth-qualifying position with a 6.829-second elapsed time at 201.16 mph. The Greeneville, Tenn., resident has a first round match with Mopar factory teammate Larry Morgan.

"We had the good lane on that last run and a really good tune up," Johnson said. "We had the best 60-foot time (.998) of the day. We were going for the pole and it shook the tires a little. Every car was going left in the left lane, so we tried to adjust a little bit for that, but it wasn't enough. I got out of the groove and started rattling the tires. So I went ahead and shut it off."

Speaking of Larry Morgan, the Newark, Ohio, resident stepped up his performance this weekend and nabbed the 12th-qualifed position. Morgan, who won the 2002 NHRA national event at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., clocked a 6.853-second elapsed time at 201.13 mph.

"It's been a real good weekend so far," Morgan said. "I'm so proud of all the guys who have been working on this thing at the shop. It's just been a big boost for our program. It's going to help all of our programs as well. We've struggled for so long, now we finally feel that we've moved forward. We're going to continue this pace and the next two to three races -- we ought to be real good. I'm happy for Mopar because we have so many cars in the program as well. We want this thing to be good for everyone -- and that's the direction we're headed."

Three-time POWERade Pro Stock World Champion Darrell Alderman squeaked into the 15th slot. The 53-year-old veteran was on the outside looking in heading into the last session tonight, but powered his Hemi-powered Dodge Stratus to a 6.855-second elapsed time at 201.13 mph. This weekend marked the debut of Alderman's Dodge Stratus.

"We really didn't make a good run on that last one," said Alderman, who faces Greg Anderson in round one tomorrow. "We had a couple hundredths left in that last run. We knew after we ran this afternoon (6.89), the we were in good shape. The air was almost 3,000 feet then, so we figured that we could get in by just making a halfway run. We'll try to save it all for tomorrow."

Greg Stanfield anchors tomorrow night's Pro Stock field. The Bossier City, La., resident ran to a 6.859-second lap at 201.37 mph -- taking the 16th qualified position and setting up a round one match with Warren Johnson.

Gene Wilson improved his qualifying runs today, but it wasn't enough to break into the Pro Stock field. The 2002 NHRA Rookie of the Year ran a 6.873-second elapsed time at 201.07 mph.

"Conditions were pretty good and the track was pretty good tonight," Wilson said. "We just had a bunch of little gremlins rear their ugly heads this weekend. Twice, we had problems with our engine. It's been little things, but it keeps us out. We'll make adjustments as necessary."


Whit Bazemore piloted his Matco Tools Dodge Stratus Funny Car entry to the fifth position. His Schumacher Racing machine traveled the suburban St. Louis quarter mile in 4.901 seconds and 314.31 mph; setting up a round one eliminator with Ron Capps.

"This track is the ultimate test for all aspects of this team," Bazemore said. "This track is difficult and challenging to run down due to a lack of traction. It's a great place to test the downforce and the aerodynamics of the Dodge Stratus body. The advantage that we have with the Dodge, which we haven't really enjoyed so much in the past, is the amount of adjustability we have in the aerodynamics. We run our full downforce set up during the day session and we've gone down the track on all four runs. Due in large part to the downforce we have with the Dodge Stratus.

"The hard part of this track to navigate is the second half," Bazemore continued. "Anywhere from over 150 mph the aerodynamics play a major role. If you have a lack of downforce at the top end, you really need to cut back on your power and slow your car down. We've been very competitive so far this weekend. A large part of that is the Dodge body, our clutch program and the decisions everyone makes. Without a good aerodynamics package to start with, we would be way behind."

Gary Scelzi and his Oakley backed Dodge Stratus Funny Car took home the seventh qualified slot with a 4.913-second elapsed time at 316.01 mph. The California resident has a first round match with John Force.

Scelzi also recorded the quickest time during the third session of qualifying.

"I have new life again," said Scelzi, who won this event in the Top Fuel category back in 2000. "We're trying something new and its starting to throw us a bone. It's the first time the Oakley Dodge has been low qualifier for a round. We've been close before, but not the quickest in the heat of the day. That says something. The first two round tomorrow are going to be just like that. We got after it a little bit tonight and we got greedy. We made three out of four good runs -- and that's good. We have Force and that other brand of car in the first round -- and we'll see if we can go and put a whooping on them.

"The full downforce on this car is a big part of our success," Scelzi added. "But, it doesn't make you walk on water. So, we can't get as greedy as we did tonight, but we need to know that because come semifinals, we know where we can't go. You press as hard as you can, but you know we're not going to go where we were tonight. We'll do what we can do. It will run mid 4.90s in the heat of the day tomorrow. We know we have something -- so I like where I'm at right now."

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Darrell Alderman , Warren Johnson , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Greg Anderson , Larry Morgan , Gene Wilson , Greg Stanfield , Allen Johnson