Mopar Speed Monday, July 19, 2004 NHRA Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals dazzle Bandimere Speedway crowd Bandimere Speedway near Denver played great host to the 25th annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals over the weekend, where thousands of NHRA ...
Monday, July 19, 2004
Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals dazzle Bandimere Speedway crowd
Bandimere Speedway near Denver played great host to the 25th annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals over the weekend, where thousands of NHRA fans enjoyed some of the best drag racing in the world.
Sunday's eliminations were held under beautiful conditions, partially making up for Friday's scheduled qualifying rounds, which were rained out.
In addition to the fast action on the race track, Mopar had a huge presence elsewhere during the event. Mopar employees Mike Masich and Catherine Auckland enjoyed roles as honorary starters. Young Matt Vaninger, an exemplary student from Bandimere's "Race to Read" program, was thrilled to serve as the Grand Marshall for the Mopar Mile High Nats. Also during opening ceremonies, the Mopar-powered Super Comp dragster driven by Schaun Schnathorst picked up the Best Enginneered award for the event.
Before final eliminations Sunday, Trevor Materasso drove home his own 2003 Dodge SRT-4 after winning the SRT-4 Ultimate Challenge. He won three rounds of drag racing against identically prepared HEMI Dodge Rams in the event co-sponsored by the Denver Business Center.
On Thursday evening, the third annual "Mopar Big Block Party" filled the streets of downtown Golden, Colo. A free concert by the platinum-selling band 10,000 Maniacs capped off the party. Pro Stock Mopar driver Darrell Alderman made a special appearance (see below), while dozens of high-performance Mopar vehicles and a huge selection of food and drink competed for partygoers' attention.
In the longest running current sponsorship of an NHRA POWERade event (15 years), Mopar was well-represented by Mopar employees, fans, racers, and Chrysler Group dealers, including many who operate Mopar Speedshops.
The traveling Mopar Speedshop, the Mopar Road Show, and countless concept, production and race vehicles showed off some of the best that Mopar has to offer. A variety of hip new Mopar and Hemi apparel allowed Mopar fans to advertise their loyalty.
Morgan drives to final round at Mopar Mile-High
Larry Morgan, pictured at the top, put on a great show for the hundreds of Mopar fans at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals yesterday at Bandimere Speedway near Denver. Morgan drove his Mopar Dodge Stratus R/T from Don Schumacher Racing into the final round, where he lost to Greg Anderson by a mere .023-second.
On his trek to the money round at Bandimere, Morgan disposed of JR Carr, Warren Johnson and Kurt Johnson. It was Morgan's second final round appearance of the season, and he stands fourth in the Pro Stock standings.
Kenny Koretsky qualified his Dodge Stratus into the third position Saturday behind Hemi power built by Larry Morgan. Koretsky was unable to get past Kurt Johnson in the first round of eliminations.
V. Gaines, from nearby Lakewood, Colo., used his own powerful Larry Morgan-built Hemi engine to drive past Jeg Coughlin in round one. Gaines ran a quicker lap than Kurt Johnson in the second round but it was not enough to make up for Johnson's advantage at the light.
The factory-backed team of Johnson & Johnson Racing had a tough time adapting to the Denver air, especially after weather permitted only two qualifying passes. Both team cars were edged out of the show, as the 7.240 from Mike Corvo, Jr. and the 7.246 lap from Allen Johnson missed the 7.224 bump spot.
"The track just bit us." Johnson said. "We came to Bandimere real excited about our chances. We're real disappointed to let down all the Mopar folks, but we should be in better shape at these next tracks that are closer to sea level."
Mopar connection in Pro Stock Bike winner
The winner of the Pro Stock Bike category, Shawn Gann, had a close Mopar affiliation. Darrell Cox, NHRA Sport Compact engine builder and team owner for Team Mopar, is a former crew chief of the Bike team and continues to share engine building resources with Blake Gann, tuner of Shawn Gann's high-powered motorcycle. Gann defeated Craig Treble in the final round for his second win of the season at Mopar's Mile-High event.
The NHRA POWERade tour heads straight to Kent, Wash., for an event this weekend at Pacific Raceways. In 2003, Morgan was runner-up at the event, and he defeated Mopar teammate Allen Johnson in the semifinals. Television coverage of qualifying is scheduled to air on ESPN2 Saturday from 7 until 9 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 4 a.m. Eliminations are set from 8 until 11 p.m. on Sunday on ESPN2. Times are Eastern.
"I only wish we had won Mopar's race. I'd trade that for any race that I've ever won. Hey, we can't be disappointed. We're really lucky to be in a position to win now. It will happen one of these next few races. Believe me. We're very confident.
"We've been running on tires that were too small and the engine went through too high; we weren't geared right. This thing is in-between with the gear ratio that we need. We ran two thousandths quicker down the back than Greg (Anderson) and that's good. We just need a little luck, that's all we need."
Larry Morgan, driver of a Mopar Dodge Stratus Pro Stocker, who came oh-so-close to capturing the win at Bandimere Speedway for Mopar in the Pro Stock category of the 25th annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals. An action shot of Morgan from the weekend fills the top of this week's Mopar Speed newsletter.
Cory Kruseman strung together two straight wins in his No. 21 Mopar hot rod from Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises during Indiana Sprint Week competition.
Kruseman and Yeley win for Mopar at Indiana Sprint Week
Team Mopar dominated the first three events of Indiana Sprint Week, as Cory Kruseman and J.J. Yeley quickly found their way to the victory circle for Mopar.
Yeley made a dramatic last lap, last turn pass of fellow Mopar driver Jay Drake to picked up the win in the Sprint Week opener last Thursday at Twin Cities Raceway Park. NASCAR driver Yeley triumphed over a 65-car field from behind the wheel of the No. 75 Mopar-powered machine owned by reknowned Mopar engine builder Gary Stanton. Drake ended up second, while his Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises teammate Cory Kruseman, earned a ninth-place finish.
Kruseman won his second USAC National Sprint Car feature of the season for TSRE, Saturday, at Lincoln Park Speedway after Friday's event at Gas City was cancelled by rain.
"The Kruser" wasted little time proving why he was the 2002 Indiana Sprint Week Champion yesterday at Tri-State Speedway, as he drove his No. 21 Mopar to his second feature event win in as many nights. Drake, the 2000 Indiana Sprint Week Champion, earned an 11th place finish in the feature to maintain his position as USAC National Sprint Car Series points leader, while Kruseman regained second place in the points battle.
Drake, Kruseman and the Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises team will continue to do battle for the Indiana Sprint Week title, with events at Gas City Speedway on Wednesday, Lawrenceburg Speedway Thursday, Bloomington Speedway on Friday and the Indiana Sprint Week finale at the Terre Haute Action Track on Saturday. Drake will also compete in USAC Silver Crown Series Competition next Saturday at the Milwaukee Mile. He will be joined at the track by other Mopar drivers, Josh Wise and Tracy Hines, who will compete in USAC National Midget Series competition at the Milwaukee Mile.
Mohler pounds out third straight victory in Vegas
Scott Mohler racked up his third straight win and second consecutive NHRA Summit Sport Compact Series victory Saturday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Mohler drove his Mopar Dodge Neon to the All-Motor title by knocking off competitors Jeremy Lookofsky, Larry Kelley and Leslie Durst. Mohler retained his title as the defending race winner, as he topped the All Motor division at Vegas in 2003.
On Friday night, Mohler nabbed the No. 1 qualifier spot with a pass of 10.38 seconds at 128.55 mph, breaking a five race streak of poles for Jesus Padilla. Mohler visited Victory Lane at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on July 11 in a NOPI Drag Racing Association event. Mohler won the previous NHRA event, too, at the inaugural Mopar Mountain Madness event at Bandimere Speedway in mid-June. Darrell Cox Racing teammate Mike Crawford finished runner-up in his class at Bristol last week.
In Las Vegas, Crawford made a great run to the finals in the Hot Rod division, dismissing Ricky Dela Cruz, Eric Del Rosario and Gary Gardella, but fell to Marty Ladwig in the finals. His slick Mopar Dodge SRT-4 continues to improve its consistency and times.
Shaun Carlson and his Nuformz team continued to dial in their fresh Mopar Dodge SRT-4 in the Pro FWD class. The car has made minimal passes since being completed earlier this year, but Carlson told Mopar Speed that they are continuing to work out the bugs and perfect getting the massive power of their SRT-4 to the pavement.
The Sport Compact rockers from Team Mopar are scheduled to battle with their competition next at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis on August 6 and 7.
"This Mopar motor is awesome! We have a lot of momentum in our corner. Darrell [Cox, engine builder and crew chief] has made a lot of improvements on both of our team cars, and we're definitely turning things around.
We made up 40 points and we're only 35 points out of first place now. The
Mopar Dodge Neon ran great. To run a 10.30 at that high elevation is
excellent. We should be able to run nines once we get back to sea-level
tracks. Our cars are the ones to watch, and we're gunning for that
-Scott Mohler, who has brought home victory hardware in his three most recent events.
Whit Bazemore drove his Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T to the quickest ever Funny Car pass at picturesque Bandimere Speedway - a 4.842-second run during qualifying.
Bazemore nails track record at Mopar Mile-High Nationals
Whit Bazemore crushed the Funny Car elapsed time track record during qualifying Saturday at Bandimere Speedway near Denver during the 25th annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals, giving him his third No. 1 qualifier spot of the year.
In the first session of qualifying, Bazemore broke the track record with a 4.897, and then bettered his own mark with a 4.842 later in the evening. The next closest competitor was nearly one-tenth of a second slower in qualifying.
Bazemore, who was also the first Funny Car driver to break into the four-second range at Bandimere in 2000 and won at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals there in 1997 and 2000, was not as successful in eliminations on Sunday. The Mopar-supported team from Don Schumacher Racing had traction problems in the first round and fell to Robert Schwab.
Schumacher teammate Gary Scelzi piloted his Hemi-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T into eliminations on Sunday. Scelzi's qualifying position was relegated to 15th after a parachute failure held him back from bettering his poor first pass of 5.123 seconds. In the opening round of eliminations, Scelzi nailed a .052 reaction time, ahead of his competitor Tony Pedregon. The slick track got the better of Scelzi's Mopar around 200-feet out, however, and he was unable to recover.
"It would have been great to have done better at this Mopar-sponsored race," Scelzi said, "but even the HEMI power in our Dodge Stratus didn't pull us through this one. Racing at Bandimere is always a challenge."
The other leaders of the Funny Car standings had difficulty figuring out Bandimere, so Bazemore and Scelzi retain their third and fourth positions, respectively.
Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher drove his Hemi-powered U.S. Army dragster from the Don Schumacher Racing stable into the final round. Schumacher lost the exciting duel by less than a tenth of a second, concluding the racing action at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals in thrilling fashion.
The NHRA POWERade tour heads straight to Kent, Wash., for an event this weekend at Pacific Raceways. In 2003, Bazemore was runner-up at the event, while Scelzi notched his first career Funny Car top qualifier spot. Television coverage of qualifying is scheduled to air on ESPN2 Saturday from 7 until 9 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 4 a.m. Eliminations are set from 8 until 11 p.m. on Sunday on ESPN2. Times are Eastern.
Alderman honored with new Hemi Magnum, will sit out for season
Mopar celebrated the dynamic career of NHRA Pro Stock driver Darrell Alderman at the Mopar Big Block Party last Thursday, held in downtown Golden, Colo. The commemoration coincided with the 25th annual Mopar Mile-High Nationals and the announcement that Alderman will sit out the rest of the season due to nagging back problems.
'It's been sixteen great years," Alderman said. 'I could sit here and thank Mopar all evening. The Mopar fans are great everywhere, but they're really special here in Colorado.
'The time has come for me to get [my back problems] corrected and take off the rest of the year," the three-time NHRA Pro Stock champion continued emotionally. 'Really the future is in doubt ... but I can't say enough about Mopar and these great fans who've stuck with me through thick and thin."
Mopar's Christine Cortez, Senior Vice President -- Global Service and Parts, then gave Alderman a 340-horsepower gift. After reminiscing briefly about his lengthy career with Mopar and his admirable character, Cortez asked: 'Darrell, how many years have you been driving a Hemi®?"
'Well ... since 1999," Alderman replied, indicating the season that Mopar Pro Stock teams began racing under the current Hemi engine program.
'Five years?! Is that enough time for Darrell Alderman to drive a Hemi?" Cortez asked the crowd in the streets of Golden. 'We won't worry about next year. We want to give our tribute to you now! And that is our tribute," Cortez said, gesturing to a brand new Inferno Red Hemi-powered Dodge Magnum R/T and handing him the keys.
Alderman's beaming trademark grin highlighted his appreciative response.
Since he first signed a factory deal in 1988, Alderman has been instrumental in bringing Mopar and Dodge back to the forefront of professional drag racing. Alderman, who has been with Johnson & Johnson Racing since the beginning of the 2003 season, missed the first event at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway this year because of his back, where Team Mopar driver Shaun Carlson from the NHRA Summit Sport Compact Series filled in.
Alderman has brought home three NHRA POWERade Pro Stock championships for Mopar and Dodge and roped in 28 victories along the way, all the while maintaining a true passion for drag racing which he has passed along in one way or another to his three children.
"We've not only lost a great Mopar driver from our sport, but a true friend who's like a brother to me," said Allen Johnson, owner of Johnson & Johnson Racing and driver of the second Mopar Dodge Stratus R/T on the team. 'I have looked up to Darrell for years and tried my best to match his abilities. I know this isn't the end of our friendship, but it will be sad to not have him in the pits with us this weekend and for the rest of the season."
In his glory years, Alderman's presence and skill was unequaled in the Pro Stock garage. When DA won a race, the excitement level surpassed that of when any other driver in his class claimed a victory.
Mike Corvo, Jr., who has driven Pro Stock Dodge vehicles for the last few seasons, took Alderman's seat at Bandimere Speedway during the Mopar Mile-High Nationals over the weekend.
"I'm so excited to represent Mopar at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals," Corvo said during the ceremony. 'I'm honored to fill in for Darrell, but there's no way I can replace him. We'll do our best to make him proud."
Corvo will drive the second car for Johnson & Johnson for at least the next two events in Seattle and Sonoma, Calif.
"It's been sixteen great years. I could sit here and thank Mopar all evening. The Mopar fans are great everywhere, but they're really special here in Colorado.
'But the time has come for me to get [my back problems] corrected and take off the rest of the year."
Darrell Alderman, a three-time NHRA Pro Stock champion with Mopar, on his decision to take the rest of the year off to rehibilitate his back. It is uncertain whether or not Alderman will return behind the wheel in 2005. Officials from Mopar gave his the brand new Dodge Magnum above as their tribute.
Ted Musgrave continues to turn in solid finishes in his Mopar since his Ultra Motorsports team has been reunited with crew chief Gene Nead and other crew members.
Musgrave finishes third at Gateway, jumps up in point standings
Ted Musgrave finished third in a wild race at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis, Mo., on Saturday in the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200.
The wily veteran Musgrave hung around in his No. 1 Mopar Dodge Ram as the race went into four "overtime" sessions that were attempts to get the race to finish green-white-checker. Musgrave watched as many of the leading trucks took each other out, and he stayed out of trouble to salvage a very strong finish after starting the race from the 13th spot.
Musgrave jumped up three spots in the NCTS point standings with the podium finish at Gateway. He stands in sixth place going into the next event at Michigan International Speedway, scheduled for July 31. Television coverage on Speed Channel is set to begin at 1 p.m., July 31. Times are Eastern.
Lasoski nabs top finishes, leads at King's Royal
Danny Lasoski picked up three top-five finishes in World of Outlaws Series competition last week, and narrowly missed earning his first King's Royal A-main event win at Eldora Speedway Saturday night.
"The Dude" finished second at Cedar Lake Speedway last Monday in Wisconsin, and picked up a fourth place A-main event finish at Hartford (Mich.) Speedway Park on Wednesday.
With strong momentum, the Mopar-powered No. 20 team from Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises moved on to Eldora Speedway for the 21st Annual King's Royal at the Ohio track. On Friday, Lasoski lead 21 laps of "Before the King's Royal" A-main before succumbing to changing track conditions to finish second.
In Saturday's finale, Lasoski worked his way up through early race traffic into contention. After point leader Steve Kinser flipped on Lap 30, Lasoski took over the lead soon after the restart. On another restart near the end of the race, the right rear tire on Lasoski's car went down, sending him into the pits to get a new tire and rejoin the field on the rear. The No. 20 team was credited with a 16th place finish after a stellar performance.
The World of Outlaws move on to the East coast this week, making a stop at Lernerville Speedway tomorrow and Williams Grove Speedway Thursday through Saturday for the Summer Nationals. Lasoski gained several points on series leader Kinser and maintains his second place standing.
Danny Lasoski consistently finished at the top of the field last week to firm up his standing in the points battle. "The Dude" stands second in the rankings, and he's used the strength of his Paul Kistler-built Mopar 410 c.i. V8 engine to capture eight Quick Times this season.