SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 1, 2001) -- For the first time in seven years, a name other than Warren Johnson sits on top of the NHRA Pro Stock speed charts. His name is Darrell Alderman, driver of the new Hemi-powered Mopar Parts Dodge Neon...
SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 1, 2001) -- For the first time in seven years, a name other than Warren Johnson sits on top of the NHRA Pro Stock speed charts. His name is Darrell Alderman, driver of the new Hemi-powered Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T.
Alderman first broke Johnson's mark of 202.36 mph (Houston Raceway Park, 1999) with a 202.42 mph pass in Saturday's third-qualifying session at Seattle International Raceway. The Morehead, Ky., resident then upped the record with a 202.64 mph blast in a second-round victory over V. Gaines en route to his second final-round appearance of the year.
Ironically, Alderman was the last driver to position his name ahead of Johnson as the national speed record holder when he drove the Sears Point Raceway quarter mile at 197.80 mph in 1994. In fact, prior to this last weekend, only Warren's son Kurt had his name among the top-10 Pro Stock speeds of all-time.
"We had high expectations of the new Dodge Neon prior to its arrival," said Alderman, who first drove the new Dodge Neon R/T in qualifying for the Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo. two weekends ago. "I think our old Dodge R/T bodies kind of hid the type of horsepower that (team owner and engine builder) David Nickens had gotten out of the Hemi engines to date. The new Neon just seems to cut right through that air. I could tell each run was going to be fast when I shifted from fourth to fifth gear and it just took off.
"What also helps is how stable the car feels down track," Alderman continued. "The old cars tended to wander about half track and were a little hard to drive. These cars go right on through and don't have a bit of trouble. We knew we had a lot of horsepower because of some of our early season speed numbers, but I really think we've only scratched the surface of what the Hemi and Neon combination can produce.
Alderman's record added flavor to an already fruitful weekend where Mopar Parts teammate Mark Osborne collected his inaugural victory of the season in the first all-Mopar final since the 1995 Winsternationals in Pomona, Calif.
"It was so nice to finally be in an all-Mopar final again," Alderman added. "I just got my butt kicked by my teammate, so I'll have to return the favor in the near future."
Not to be outdone, Osborne also etched his name in the record book during the weekend. Osborne, who collected the third national event title of his career, and first for a Hemi-powered Pro Stock car since 1979 (Randy Humphrey at Bandimere Speedway), recorded the third quickest elapsed time in NHRA history with his 6.811-second pass in his first-round victory over Tom Martino.
"I think we have a car equal to what General Motors has now," said Osborne, who also ran the eighth quickest time in Pro Stock history with a 6.819-second lap in his second round defeat of George Marnell. "The new Dodge Neon has really made our program look a lot better. We had shown some nice power numbers early in the season, but the Dodge R/T's were just a little wide and tall.
"The Hemi engine has been producing a lot of horsepower," Osborne continued. "The guys back at the engine shop have been doing a lot of research, development, on-track testing and dyno work and the results have shown on the track. They have experimented and worked on the configuration of the head, manifold, and carburetors and have picked up the right combination. Right now, the important thing is to establish consistency because it's awfully hard to repeat in such a competitive class like Pro Stock.
"We've been under a lot of pressure to do well," Osborne added. "But, I think we're on to something good with these new Dodge Neons."
The NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series heads to Sears Point Raceway this weekend for the 14th annual Fram Autolite Nationals, where Alderman drove to the semifinals last year before losing to fellow Mopar-powered competitor Allen Johnson.
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