ProRally: Mopar Speed news 2004-06-01

Mopar Speed Tuesday, June 1, 2004 NHRA Funny Car Bazemore wins second of season, builds on point lead Lee Beard notches 50th national event win as a crew chief Team Mopar driver Whit Bazemore earned his second Funny Car victory of the ...

Mopar Speed
Tuesday, June 1, 2004

NHRA Funny Car

Bazemore wins second of season, builds on point lead

Lee Beard notches 50th national event win as a crew chief

Team Mopar driver Whit Bazemore earned his second Funny Car victory of the season Sunday at Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas. Bazemore steered the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T to its second pole position at Topeka as well, qualifying fastest with a 4.792-second pass at 323.19 mph.

Bazemore marched to his fifth final round appearance in the last six events and defeated John Force's rookie driver Eric Medlen for the win. It was Bazemore's second win of the season and the 17th of his career.

The win marks the 50th national event win for Bazemore's crew chief, Lee Beard.

"Winning here with Whit is very special," said Beard who won with Gary Ormsby, Cruz Pedregon, Kenny Bernstein, among others. "To be in the lead of the POWERade Funny Car championship is great, and winning No. 50 for me, hey, that's been in the back of my mind for a while. I'm very honored to be part of the team."

Last weekend in Joliet, Ill., Bazemore became the record-holder of the quickest Funny Car pass in NHRA history when he knocked down a 4.713-second pass at Route 66 Raceway. On the same run, he also became the fastest Funny Car driver in the world, searing across the line at 333.25 mph.

Gary Scelzi, Bazemore's Don Schumacher Racing teammate, qualified his Hemi-powered Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T into the eighth spot, but fell in the first round to Gary Densham. Last weekend, Scelzi became the first Funny Car driver to eclipse the 330 mph barrier; he holds the official NHRA Funny Car speed record at 330.55 mph.

The two Dodge-bodied vehicles both wear associate Mopar sponsorship. Bazemore leads the Funny Car point standings, while Scelzi stands seventh.

The NHRA POWERade series will visit Columbus, Ohio, for the next event, scheduled June 10-13, before heading to Englishtown, N.J. and Madison, Ill. the following two weeks. Image

"To be here in the winner's circle [at Heartland Park Topeka] again is great. It feels good. Some words I never thought I'd say - we extended our points lead. I've never said that. It kind of rolls off the tongue.

"It was a perfect afternoon, a perfect weekend, in fact. The guys, the whole Matco Tools team led by Lee [Beard], obviously gave us a perfect race car."
    -- Whit Bazemore, who won his first Funny Car event at Heartland Park Topeka in 1997, extended his Funny Car point lead with his second victory of the season on Sunday.

USAC Midget

Mopar midget engines, like that pictured above, powered numerous entrants at USAC's famed Night Before the 500 event over the weekend.

Of special note is that brothers Teddy and Todd Beach debuted the Ed Pink-built Mopar engine in the event. Pink is a renowned builder of blue oval engines, but is also legendary for his work on Hemi engines for supercharged fuel burning dragsters in the late 1950s and early '60s. Pink's shop continued to build Hemi engines for drag racing competition when the esteemed 426 cid version was released until the mid-1970s.

Mopar powers winner of Night Before the 500 event at IRP

Mopar helped power Ron Gregory to his first-ever USAC National Midget Series victory at the 59th running of the Night Before the 500 event at Indianapolis (Ind.) Raceway Park Saturday, where Mopar engines filled the fenders of 41 percent of the race entrants.

Mopar engines are becoming a dominant force in USAC Midget racing. In addition to the factory-backed Mopar teams, numerous independent teams are choosing to compete with the four-cylinder powerhouses, and it certainly paid off for Gregory, who qualified fastest in a field of 35 and led the last 15 laps to take the win.

Team Mopar regulars Josh Wise and Tracy Hines also turned in solid finishes, with Hines crossing the finish line in fourth place in his Wilke-PAK Motorsports machine and Wise bringing his midget from Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises home with a seventh-place finish. Hines also won the second qualifying race.

Last Thursday's event at the Indianapolis Speedrome was rained out, but not before Wise and Dave Steele posted top-five qualifying efforts for the Rich Vogler Classic. The event has been rescheduled for July 7.

Wise is currently ranked second in USAC National Midget Car Series points, with Wilke-PAK Motorsports' Davey Ray in fourth position.

The next USAC National Midget event is scheduled for June 12 at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway.

NHRA Pro Stock

Allen Johnson records best effort of season

Allen Johnson turned in his best performance of the season over the weekend at Heartland Park Topeka (Kan.), driving his Mopar Dodge Stratus R/T into the semifinals, thanks to two awesome performances at the starting line.

Johnson knocked off Mopar teammate Larry Morgan in the first round of eliminations with a .033-second reaction time, and promptly dismissed Jason Line in the second round courtesy his .045-second reflexes. Johnson's run ended in the semis at the hands of Greg Anderson.

Morgan has qualified his Mopar Dodge Stratus R/T in the top-half of the field in all nine events this season and stands fourth in the Pro Stock point standings.

Kenny Koretsky used his Larry Morgan-built Hemi engine to power his way into the fourth qualifying position and defeat Jim Yates in Round One competition before being edged out in the second round.

The NHRA POWERade series will visit Columbus, Ohio, for the next event, scheduled June 10-13, before heading to Englishtown, N.J. and Madison, Ill. the following two weeks.

"We didn't run as well as we'd like to, but we had a little luck, and luck's better than being good anytime.

"In this next three-race stretch we gotta put a move on some people. We're very optimistic that we can get the horsepower numbers up where they need to be in the near future. We've done well at all three of these upcoming tracks in the past, so we're looking forward to doing well and being in a much better position overall when we roll into Denver for the Mopar Mile-High Nats in July."
    -- Allen Johnson

SCCA ProRally

"Doug and Pete have definitely proved the potential of the SRT-4. I'm looking forward to driving it because Doug tells me it's a very exciting, very fun car to drive.

"When you drive at this level, you need to feel really comfortable with the potential of the car. I'll try to work up to running with Shepherd. Hopefully I'll be up to his level by the late stages of the first event."
    -- Paul Choiniere, eight-time Overall SCCA ProRally champion, is scheduled to drive a Mopar Dodge SRT-4 (like that pictured) this weekend at STPR and at the famous Pikes Peak International Hillclimb.

Champion guest driver Choiniere to pilot SRT-4 at STPR

Team Mopar's SCCA ProRally warriors will pick up a compatriot at this weekend's Susquehannock Trail Pro Rally event (STPR), which winds runs through Pennsylvania near Wellsboro.

Eight-time Overall SCCA ProRally champion Paul Choiniere will jump behind the wheel of the No. 53 Mopar Dodge SRT-4, the first time he will have competed in a 2WD machine in over 20 years. He hopes to give Team Mopar veterans and defending Overall 2WD and Group 5 champions Doug Shepherd and co-driver Pete Gladysz a run for their money, while at the same time helping Mopar get some more exposure at one of the classic stage rallies in the United States.

Choiniere is very familiar with the roads through Pennsylvania; he has won the overall championship at STPR seven times, including five in a row in the early 1990s.

Shepherd and Gladysz have no plans of letting Choiniere drive around them; the pair has championed Group 5 for five straight events going back to last season.

Stop by next week for exclusive Team Mopar highlights from STPR.


Drake and Kruseman continue to lead Sprint standings

Jay Drake, Cory Kruseman and Dave Steele turned in solid performances at Anderson (Ind.) Speedway for Mopar and Tony Stewart Racing last week. The trio qualified in the top-seven at Anderson Speedway on Wednesday, showing the consistent strength of their Mopar engines. Drake finished the A-main in third, with Steele following in seventh. Kruseman was credited with the 16th after a racing incident took him out of contention.

Drake and Kruseman returned to Anderson Speedway on Saturday for the 56th running of the Little 500. Kruseman finished 17th in his first "Little 500," while Drake was credited with 30th position in the 500-lap event. The USAC National Sprint Car Series event scheduled Sunday at Eldora Speedway was canceled due to inclement weather.

Drake continues to lead the USAC National Sprint Car Series points championship with Kruseman sitting in second position. The Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises team will head to Hawkeye Downs Raceway in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, this Friday.

In USAC Silver Crown Series action, Jay Drake and the Stewart-Snider Racing team competed in the historic Hoosier Hundred event at the Indiana State Fairgrounds last Friday. The No. 11 Mopar team salvaged a 22nd-place finish in the historical 100-lap event after Drake parked the car with mechanical issues prior to the race finish.

The No. 11 team will head to the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track this Saturday for the Terre Haute First National Bank Sumar Classic.

Jay Drake (above), who drives the No. 20 Mopar car for Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises, has led the USAC National Sprint Series standings all season.


The No. 20 team from Tony Stewart Motorsports used its Paul Kistler-built Mopar power to retain second place in the WoO standings.

Lasoski earns seventh Quick Time of season in busy week

Danny Lasoski and the No. 20 team from Tony Stewart Motorsports stayed consistent and steered their way through heavy action this past week, competing in five events in the Eastern section of the country.

The No. 20 team began the East Coast swing at Lernerville (Penn.) Speedway last Tuesday, taking the checkered flag to earn their ninth top-five finish this season. The team moved on to Williams Grove (Penn.) Speedway on Thursday and Friday, finishing a respectable 16th in preliminary action and 13th in the event finale. At Williams Grove, Lasoski and company unveiled a special paint scheme featuring "Shrek 2" graphics.

"The Dude" and company rallied to finish 11th at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway, Saturday, where Lasoski's young nephew Brian Brown earned his first top-ten finish of the season using Mopar power.

Lasoski earned his team's seventh Quick Time award of the season behind the strength of the Paul Kistler-built 410 cid Mopar powerplant at Pennsylvania's Grandview Speedway. Lasoski won the B-main and finished 11th position in the A-main to maintain his second place standing in World of Outlaws Series points. Brown picked up his second straight top-ten at Grandview, one spot ahead of Uncle Danny.

The WoO event scheduled yesterday at Lebanon Valley Speedway in New York was postponed until Tuesday due to inclement weather.

The World of Outlaws will work its way back west this week, with events scheduled at Rolling Wheels Raceway in Elbridge, N.Y., Wednesday, before traveling to Ohio for events at Sharon Speedway, Friday, and Eldora Speedway on Saturday.

Televised WoO racing action can be found almost every Wednesday on the Outdoor Channel. Check your local listings.

WoO Late Models

Francis continues to roll

Steve Francis and the No. 15 Mopar-sponsored team from Francis Motorsports picked up two top-five finishes, a heat race win and a dash event win in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series and World Dirt Racing League competition.

Francis finished seventh in the finale of the Show Me 100 at West Plains (Mo.) Speedway last Saturday.

The team moved on to West Liberty (Iowa) Speedway yesterday, where they won the sixth heat and dash events en route to a second-place finish in the feature event.

The "Kentucky Colonel" will compete June 11--12 at Eldora Speedway in Ohio in the 10th Annual Dirt Late Model Dream event, which pays $100,000 to win.


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About this article
Series NHRA , SCCA , USAC , World of Outlaws
Drivers Tony Stewart , Kenny Bernstein , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Greg Anderson , Larry Morgan , Paul Choiniere , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , Danny Lasoski , Tracy Hines , Dave Steele , Kenny Koretsky , Cory Kruseman , Jay Drake , Allen Johnson , Ron Gregory , Jason Line , Josh Wise , Davey Ray , Brian Brown , Eric Medlen , Don Schumacher , Todd Beach , Steve Francis
Teams Williams