Mopar Motorsports - making the Case for Gene Wilson POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 5, 2002) -- Mopar Parts Pro Stock rookie Gene Wilson was recently named as one of four nominees for NHRA's annual Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future...
Mopar Motorsports - making the Case for Gene Wilson
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 5, 2002) -- Mopar Parts Pro Stock rookie Gene Wilson was recently named as one of four nominees for NHRA's annual Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award. The 29-year-old driver will compete in this weekend's season-ending NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway.
Wilson, who made his debut during the Gatornationals at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway last March, has been impressive in his first NHRA season. The Canton, Ga., resident currently sits 13th in the NHRA POWERade Pro Stock points race, only 34 points out of tenth. Wilson has qualified in the top half of the field 11 times, which ranks fifth (tied with Kurt Johnson) among all NHRA Pro Stock drivers this season. In addition, Wilson earned his first No. 1 qualifier award during the second NHRA tilt at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill.
Wilson has also been strong on race day as well, winning 14 rounds of competition and making two final-round appearances at Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park and the Texas Motorplex in Ennis.
"I have had a great season," Wilson said. "It has been a big task to adjust to a new car, new team and new series, but I'm starting to become one with the car right now. I feel real comfortable, and it's shown on track. Everyone has worked hard and done a tremendous job helping me get to this point."
Wilson joined the NHRA after winning the IHRA Pro Stock World Championship in 2001; grabbing multiple No. 1 qualifiers, tying legendary Bob Glidden's single-season national event victory record at eight and holding IHRA's national elapsed time and speed records.
WRAP IT UP, BOYS. Mopar would like to reflect on the triumph's of the 2002 Pro Stock season as the NHRA POWERade Drag racing Series heads into the Automobile club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway this weekend.
Back in March, three-time NHRA POWERade Pro Stock World Champion Darrell Alderman relived a bit of old glory by winning his first race since 1997 during the Gatornationals at historic Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway. The Morehead, Ky., resident also battled for his fourth title early on, rising as high as third following a semifinal-round showing in the Fram Southern Nationals at the Atlanta Dragway in late April.
"After not getting a win since 1997, it is the sweetest," said Alderman, after posting his 28th-career national event victory. "I was getting to the point where I thought I was getting too old to win one of these. Things worked my way today and I got back to victory circle and its really sweet."
Another special moment came for a Mopar driver at Infineon Raceway in early August. In what could be called one of the category's highlights of the 2002 season, Larry Morgan whipped up some starting-line magic to capture the ninth victory of his Pro Stock career. Morgan used holeshot advantages on two-time and newly crowned Pro Stock World Champion Jeg Coughlin, Jr., and perennial front-runner Greg Anderson en route to his first triumph since 1994. It was also Morgan's first final since 1997.
"We've worked real hard at this new Hemi program," said Morgan, during the post-race press conference. "I left General Motors in 1999 to work on this program because I knew there was a big future in it. As you can see, it is all starting to come together because we had six Hemi cars in the program today. We're just real proud of that fact alone. Without the support from Mopar, we wouldn't be anywhere near where we are today."
As Morgan mentioned, six Hemi-powered Pro Stock machines sat in the 16-car field at Infineon Raceway; which marked the first time that feat had been accomplished in Dodge history and the first time in more than 30 years for Mopar-powered efforts. A similar accomplishment happened in late September at Route 66 Raceway, as Hemi-powered Dodge Neon R/T's swept the top-three qualifying positions. It was the first time that had happened since 1972.
A NEW ERA. Mopar officials will be unveiling its 2003 Hemi-powered Dodge Stratus R/T during a Noon press conference at the annual SEMA show held in the Las Vegas Convention Center Wednesday. It will signify the third step in Mopar's Pro Stock revolution, one that's already garnered the current NHRA national speed record (204.35) and four NHRA national event victories since the 2000 season -- when the 500-cubic-inch Pro Stock Hemi was introduced.