Mopar Speed Monday, March 1, 2004 NHRA Pro Stock Morgan drives to semis, Carlson wins round in Pro Stock debut Larry Morgan led the Team Mopar charge into the 2004 NHRA Pro Stock season at the conclusion of the rescheduled NHRA...
Monday, March 1, 2004
NHRA Pro Stock
Morgan drives to semis, Carlson wins round in Pro Stock debut
Larry Morgan led the Team Mopar charge into the 2004 NHRA Pro Stock season at the conclusion of the rescheduled NHRA Winternationals at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway over the weekend.
Morgan drove his Mopar Dodge Stratus R/T to the semifinals, picking up strong victories against Bruce Allen and Dave Connolly. Morgan turned in consistent times of 6.765 and 6.779 in Rounds One and Two, respectively after a 6.765 qualifying effort that saw him land in the fourth spot heading into Eliminations.
Morgan was eliminated in the semifinals by eventual race winner Greg Anderson.
Shaun Carlson, Team Mopar Pro FWD Sport Compact star, subbed for regular driver Darrell Alderman and picked up an impressive round win in his Pro Stock debut. Carlson lined up against fellow rookie Jason Line, who red-lighted at the start. Carlson then drove his Mopar to victory to the tune of a 6.794-second pass at 203.40 mph, his personal best in a Pro Stock vehicle.
In the second round, Carlson edged wily veteran Warren Johnson at the Christmas Tree, but was not able to hold on for a victory, falling 6.758 to 6.812.
Carlson stormed into a qualifying spot for Sunday's Eliminations when he turned in an impressive 6.801 at 202.67 mph in the final round of qualifying Saturday, moving into the 14th spot.
"Before the run and during that last round of qualifying," Carlson said, "I was by far the most nervous I've ever been in my life. I had a hard time believing that I actually made it in when the team told me.
"I never imagined that all of this would have happened over a three week period," Carlson said. He stressed that the support and encouragement he received from teammates and competitors alike made the pressure-packed experience easier and more enjoyable. Carlson is the first and only NHRA Summit Sport Compact Series competitor who has successfully qualified for an NHRA POWERade Series event.
"The whole sport compact market was following [our performance] very closely," Carlson said. "It's pretty cool to see the awesome support that we got from the whole sport compact crowd.
"I've learned a lot from Allen's team about doing everything exactly the same, every time. That allows the crew chief, driver, everyone to pin down the specific results of any changes you're working on. We're looking forward to working on our Sport Compact [Pro FWD class] car, and we can definitely apply some things from the Mopar Pro Stock teams there."
Johnson & Johnson Racing owner Allen Johnson was also impressed with Carlson's performance in his premier Pro Stock event. "He did very well for his first appearance, and he darn near beat Warren (Johnson) in the second round [of Eliminations]. Hopefully, we'll be able to put him in a car again sometime this season."
Alderman is scheduled to return to his regular Pro Stock car this weekend in Phoenix, while Carlson will focus again on his Pro FWD class Mopar Dodge SRT-4.
Allen Johnson, who finished sixth in the final POWERade Pro Stock standings last season, qualified 11th with a 6.787 pass at 203.12 mph.
In last year's season opener at Pomona, Johnson drove his Mopar to the Final Round. Yesterday, however, yielded different results, as his Round One competitor was a bit quicker both at the light and through the traps, ending AJ's day early.
"We'll try to qualify in the top half next weekend in Phoenix," Johnson said. "That'll put us in a better position. If you qualify in the top half, you get lane choice, which is always a benefit.
"Before Phoenix, we'll move the tune-up around the car and make some other adjustments," Johnson added. "We want to make better runs during qualifying, and with what we learned from Shaun's runs and mine, I know we'll be able to make improvements."
The Team Mopar Pro Stock warriors return to action this weekend at Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix, Ariz. Qualifying is scheduled to air on ESPN2 Saturday from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., Eastern. Eliminations on ESPN2 are pegged for Sunday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Eastern.
"I'm glad we were able to put a Mopar car in the semifinals. We were consistent in our runs all weekend, and it paid off.
"I think that Phoenix next weekend will be just as good, if not better for us. We're looking forward to next weekend."
-- Larry Morgan, whose trek to the semifinals earned him enough championship points to rank fourth in the early season standings.
Darrell Alderman (above) plans to return to Pro Stock competition this weekend in Phoenix.
Alderman, who has raced with Mopar and Dodge since 1988, has compiled three Pro Stock championships for the team.
"When I got done [after being eliminated in the second round], I walked over to Warren and said, 'Mr. Johnson, it was an honor to even line up next to you.' He looked over and said, 'Good job, Shaun.' I thought to myself, 'Wow, he knows my name!' ... But then I thought, 'Well, he probably just saw it written on the window.'"
-- Shaun Carlson, who beat six-time Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson at the starting line of their drag race, but could not quite hold on in the sprint the to finish line.
NHRA Funny Car
Scelzi reaches semis, sits career-highest in point standings
Gary Scelzi reached the semifinals of the season opener NHRA Winternationals yesterday at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway in the race premier of the new Hemi Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T.
Scelzi knocked off Terry Haddock in the first round with a 4.799-second pass at 324.98 mph. In Round Two, Scelzi was unfortunately matched against his Schumacher Racing teammate, Whit Bazemore, driver of the Matco Tools Dodge Stratus R/T. Scelzi defeated his teammate with a 4.801-second pass to Bazemore's 4.883.
Bazemore's team later found that they had an ignition parts failure against Scelzi, which cost them precious time. Bazemore earned a trip to Round Two, thanks to his easy win over Bob Bode in the first round.
In the semifinals, Scelzi was unable to succeed after being placed in the unfavorable lane by opponent Gary Densham and experiencing clutch problems.
"The HEMI Oakley Stratus did everything it was supposed to do," Scelzi said. "Our engine RPM was perfect. It picked up where it was supposed to pick up, but it just went into shake. Something happened between the second round and the third round. Either the clutch hat [plate] is warped or something warped in the clutch to make it do what it did."
The strong effort in Eliminations still places Scelzi in a career-high third place in the Funny Car point standings. Scelzi, a three-time Top Fuel champion, switched to the Funny Car class in 2002 and holds the five fastest Funny Car speeds in history, all of which were set behind the wheel of his Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car last season.
The Dodge Funny Car teams from Don Schumacher Racing return to action this weekend at Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix, Ariz. Qualifying is scheduled to air on ESPN2 Saturday from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., Eastern. Eliminations on ESPN2 are pegged for Sunday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Eastern. Image
Gary Scelzi (right) drove the Hemi Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T to the semifinals yesterday at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway.
Whit Bazemore (left) faced teammate Scelzi in the second round but ignition trouble cost him precious time, giving Scelzi "bragging rights at the shop."
Scelzi, a three-time Top Fuel champion, now sits a career-high third in the Funny Car point standings.
World of Outlaws
Danny Lasoski is batting 1.000 when it comes to WoO top qualifier spots in the young 2004 season. Saturday he added a pole at Perris Auto Speedway to go with the two he picked up at Manzanita, Ariz., the weekend before.
He led the series with 28 poles in 2003.
Lasoski picks up third pole in a row, finishes third in feature
Danny Lasoski and his Mopar-powered No. 20 blazed the World of Outlaws Series field this past weekend, earning his third "quick-time" award in as many races in the young 2004 racing season. "The Dude" paced the field with a 14.112-second lap around the 1/2-mile oval at the Perris Auto Speedway on Saturday night in Lake Perris, Calif.
Lasoski locked himself into the A-main event with a sixth-place finish in the first heat race of the evening. After finishing third in the dash event, Lasoski went on to record his first top-five Feature finish of the season, crossing the finish line in third position. The tape-delayed event can be seen on The Outdoor Channel on April 7 at 8 p.m. EST.
The World of Outlaws Series moves on to Kings Speedway, where Lasoski is a three-time feature winner, in Hanford, Calif., tomorrow. The series will then leave California for The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this Thursday and Friday, where Lasoski is also a three-time winner.