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Mopars' populate top half of the provisional field Morgan, Alderman, Johnson and Wilson make statements MOHNTON, Pa. (Sept. 13, 2003) -- The Mopar Pro Stock contingent exerted a little strength during the first round of qualifying for...

Mopars' populate top half of the provisional field
Morgan, Alderman, Johnson and Wilson make statements

MOHNTON, Pa. (Sept. 13, 2003) -- The Mopar Pro Stock contingent exerted a little strength during the first round of qualifying for this weekend Lucas Oil Nationals at a soggy Maple Grove Raceway. Persistent wet weather and a local curfew cancelled second-round activity.

Besides the Mopar drivers, Dodge's new Hemi-powered Stratus was the star of the show. Only five cars got down the left lane, but three of those five were factory Mopars. Larry Morgan led the way by grabbing the provisional fifth position with a 6.807-second elapsed time at 202.82 mph, the fourth fastest time of the session. The Newark, Ohio, resident was also the first Pro Stock driver to get down the left lane on Friday night.

"We made a bad run too," said Morgan, who qualified fifth at last weekend's U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. "I'm very pleased with what we did. The track is just terrible out there, but this new car was able to get through it. We were lucky to get down a track like that.

"We feel great, making a run that bad and still do that well in the standings," Morgan added. "I can't wait to get over to that right lane and see what happens."

Mopar teammate and three-time POWERade Pro Stock World Champion Darrell Alderman followed that up with a 6.813-second elapsed time at 202.00 mph. His pass, also made in the left lane, positions Alderman right behind Morgan in sixth.

"We made a great run," Alderman said. "The car left real hard and had a .989 of a second, 60-foot time, but it was a little loose at the top end. I think we know what to do to cure that tomorrow. Hopefully. It won't rain tomorrow and we can lay one down in the morning. You definitely need to leave straight here because it's not like Indy, where you have a real wide groove. Mark (Ingersoll, crew chief) adjusted the pre load on the wheelie bars and it left like a shot gun."

Then it was Allen Johnson's turn in the left lane. The two-time NHRA national event winner drove his Dodge Stratus to the seventh slot with a 6.814-second elapsed time at 202.18 mph.

"That left lane was a handful," Johnson said. "(Teammate) Darrell went first, hollered back on the radio and told me what to look out for and what to expect. When I put it in high gear, it was like there was water on the track. Fortunately, we both stayed straight and pretty much drove through it. We'll be better in the right lane, and I think we have our engines back up to snuff.

"This Stratus is an awesome race car," Johnson added. "And both Larry and Gene have cars just like ours. It's a great race car on a bad track."

Mopar's Gene Wilson was the only factory Mopar to make a pass in the right lane. Despite running in the better lane, Wilson went early in the session and was only the second car to get down the track at the time. He posted a 6.822-second elapsed time at 202.42 mph, collecting the provisional eighth slot.

"Unfortunately, I was one of the first Mopars' to go down the track," Wilson said. "I was doing a little field testing on the track conditions. I think there's a high 6.70-second run left, and there's so much improvement left in this car. It was simply bouncing all the way down the track, and I was one of the few who got down the right lane in the first six or seven pairs. It was all I could do to fight it. I think that a 6.82, under these conditions, shows that my Stratus has a lot of power."

-Mopar.com-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Morgan , Gene Wilson , Allen Johnson