Mopar Speed Monday, March 21, 2005 NHRAFC Bazemore Conquers Gatornationals, Claims Funny Car Points Lead Whit Bazemore defeated Bob Gilbertson in the NHRA POWERade Funny Car final round at Gainesville Raceway Sunday with a 4.897-second pass...
Monday, March 21, 2005
Bazemore Conquers Gatornationals, Claims Funny Car Points Lead
Whit Bazemore defeated Bob Gilbertson in the NHRA POWERade Funny Car final round at Gainesville Raceway Sunday with a 4.897-second pass at 315.67 mph to win the 36th annual Mac Tools NHRA Gatornationals. The win marked Bazemore's first win of the 2005 season in his first final round appearance of the year, his first win since Topeka in 2004, and the first time in his 16-year career as a professional Funny Car drag racer that he's won a Gatornationals event.
The Indianapolis resident and two-time U.S. Nationals champion moved into the Funny Car points lead with the victory, and stands nine points ahead of 13-time Funny Car champion John Force, who lost in the semis to Gilbertson. Adding to his joy, Bazmore also recently celebrated the birth of his first child, son Dashiell Aidan, on March 12, which is also Bazemore's birthday.
"It's huge," Bazemore said of the win at the track he first saw as a 10-year-old, and where he attended the Frank Hawley School and earned his Alcohol license in 1986. "The place has a lot of personal feelings for me. It's incredible to win the Gatornationals. It's like a Pomona, an Englishtown, or even Indy. It's right up there. It's one of the classics."
Gary Scelzi powered his Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car straight into the semifinal round as well, defeating teammate Ron Capps, driver of the Brut Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car, and Del Worsham along the way. All three Team Mopar and Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car entries advanced to the Sunday elimination rounds.
With lane choice over teammate Whit Bazemore in the semifinal round, Scelzi and his entire team, led by crew chief Mike Neff, were ramped up for a good run and a move into the final round. Scelzi took off first at the starting light, with a .080 reaction time to Bazemore's .089, but that was all she wrote, as Scelzi struck the tires off the concrete launch pad and slowed to a 5.377-second ET at 209.05 mph. Bazemore nabbed the victory with a 4.920/302.01.
"We struggled on Friday in those really cold temperatures," said Scelzi, who has yet to win the Gatornationals in his career as a three-time Top Fuel champion and as a Funny Car driver since 2002. "Mike (Neff, crew chief) really put it together today. You know, the track must have just gotten looser, because we slowed it down a little bit more and it just got a little bit fast and when it came off the concrete it just went into tire smoke."
Next up is the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway, April 8-10.
Stevens Jr., Advances to Second Round at Gatornationals
Team Mopar's triple threat of Allen Johnson, Richie Stevens Jr., and Jeg Coughlin Jr., squared off against the fastest NHRA POWERade Pro Stock field in history over the weekend at the 36th Annual Mac Tools Gatornationals event at Gainesville Raceway over the weekend. The trio advanced to Sunday's round, along with privateers Kenny Koretsky, V. Gaines and Larry Morgan, as every Mopar-powered Pro Stock entry advanced into the Sunday round of eliminations.
Sunday's elims saw Stevens Jr., advance to the second round after beating fellow Mopar driver Kenny Koretsky in the first round. Stevens Jr., laid down a pass of 6.736 sec/205.71 mph in the Don Schumacher Racing Team Mopar Dodge Stratus R/T to face eventual event winner Jason Line in the second round. The 26-year-old driver also posted his career best ET and speed during qualifying, putting down a run of 6.696 sec/ 207.08 mph. Stevens Jr., is ninth in NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Series points after the weekend's events.
Johnson, who was coming off a victory in Phoenix last month, was hoping to continue his upward momentum in the Mopar Dodge Stratus R/T. After making the field for Sunday's eliminations, Johnson and the J&J Racing team changed motors overnight. Johnson lost to Mike Edwards in the first round on Sunday, with a solid 6.737 sec/205.05 mph run. He comes off the weekend still in the top-five in NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Series points in fourth position.
Coughlin Jr., faced Jim Yates in the first round and posted the second quickest pass of the opening session at 6.700 sec/205.52 mph, but lost the round to Yates by three feet on a holeshot. The effort marked the closest race of the entire professional eliminations session, but Coughlin's .050 reaction time off the line wasn't quick enough to top Yates' .025. Coughlin Jr., and the Don Schumacher Racing Jeg's Mail Order Dodge Stratus R/T exited the event 10th in NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Series points.
The NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Series moves on to the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway on April 8 - 10.
Musgrave Grabs Top-Ten Finish at Atlanta, Moves to Second in NCTS Points Race
Ted Musgrave and the No. 1 Ultra Motorsports Mopar Dodge Ram Team earned their third top-ten finish of the 2005 season with a sixth-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Friday night. Musgrave had a strong run in the World Financial Group 200 after qualifying the No. 1 machine in 21st position. The team's efforts also saw it pick up two positions in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series points chase, moving into second place behind fellow Dodge Motorsports driver Bobby Hamilton.
Musgrave's solid performance also saw him come closer to becoming the sixth driver in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series history to hit the $3 million mark in series earnings. The veteran driver earned $56,425 for the sixth-place finish, bringing the $3 million mark within two races for Musgrave. The No. 1 team has picked up two top-five finishes and three top-ten finishes thus far in the 2005 season.
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will return to action in two weeks in the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway on April 9.
Lasoski Takes Top-Ten Finish in Texas Shootout
Danny Lasoski and the No. 20 team picked up another solid top-ten finish over the weekend in World of Outlaws Sprint Series competition. "The Dude" earned a seventh-place finish at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Texas, on Saturday night after finishing 15th on Friday in the series' appearance at Pike County Speedway in Mississippi. Lasoski, who led the first 16 laps of Friday night's A-main event also earned a dash race win. The No. 20 team also picked up a heat race win en route to their A-main appearance on Saturday.
Tim Shaffer and the Parsons Motorsports team also finished the weekend on a high note. The No. 6 team earned a fourth place finish at Pike County Speedway on Friday night. World of Outlaws Sprint Series Rookie of the Year contender Brandon Wimmer drove the Gaerte-Mopar powered Luck Motorsports machine to a 10th-place finish on Saturday night. Wimmer also won the first dash race event en route to starting on the pole for the A-main event. The newcomer also led the first 12 laps of the feature event.
Race fans can catch recent World of Outlaws Sprint Series action from Houston Raceway Park and The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway on The Outdoor Channel. The Las Vegas race will air this Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST, while the Texas Shootout will air on April 6 at 8:00 p.m. EST.
Lasoski and the World of Outlaws Sprint Series will take a weekend off before returning to action on April 1-2. The series will compete at Batesville Speedway in Arkansas on April 1 and move to I-55 Speedway in Missouri on April 2.
Josh Wise to Chat on tjslideways.com's "Monday Night Grill"
Team Mopar's Josh Wise is scheduled to be the featured guest on "The Monday Night Grill," hosted by www.tjslideways.com. Wise will take part in the chat session tonight beginning at 8 p.m. EST.
Wise, who is campaigning for the 2005 USAC Triple Crown title, began the season with a strong showing in the Copper World Classic event in January. The California native picked up a runner-up finish in the 2004 USAC National Midget Series Championship, as well as a top-ten in the USAC National Sprint Car Series points battle. Wise was also named the series' Co-Rookie of the Year.
Wolkwitz Wins SS/AA Title at Gatornationals
The driver/owner duo of Gary and Bob Wolkwitz brought a bit of nostalgia to the 36th Annual Mac Tools Gatornationals event over the weekend, as their 1968 Dodge Dart "Earthquake" won the SS/AA Class title and picked up the "Best Appearing Car" award. The team picked up the victory in just its first run with the newly built machine.
The Wolkwitz machine boasts a Ray Barton built Mopar HEMI power plant under the hood and features a Mopar HEMI block and HEMI heads.
"Mopar performance parts are better than they have ever been," David Barton said. "The new parts have more potential than in years past, and they are proving to be the most consistent in performance yet. Mopar is a true leader in the sport of drag racing, and we're pleased to be able to be a part of this program."
For more information regarding Mopar performance parts or the SS/AA series, log on to www.mopar.com or www.nhra.com.