Sonoma: Mopar Motorsports finals summary

Morgan wins Fram Autolite Nationals; first victory since 1994 for the veteran Mopar driver. SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 4, 2002)-- It was a magical day for Larry Morgan and the blue Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T. The Newark, Ohio, resident regained some...

Morgan wins Fram Autolite Nationals; first victory since 1994 for the veteran Mopar driver.

SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 4, 2002)-- It was a magical day for Larry Morgan and the blue Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T. The Newark, Ohio, resident regained some of his old-time Pro Stock glory by winning his ninth NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event today at the Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway.

Morgan, who won his first NHRA Pro Stock category event since Englishtown, N.J., in 1994 and participated in his first final since Heartland Park Topeka (Kan.) in 1997, used two holeshot starting-line advantages en route to victory.

"I can tell you right now, Bob Glidden helped me get this victory," said a jubilant Morgan."I can't tell you what we figured out, but what we did really helped me out. If it was not for him, I'd still be struggling."

In the final, Morgan took a .437 to .483 starting-line advantage on Greg Anderson; and his 6.845-second elapsed time at 201.58 mph was enough to hold him off. Anderson clocked a quicker 6.799-second elapsed time at 202.45 mph.

The semifinal was a similar story for the Newark, Ohio, resident. Morgan, after staging a brief burn down with 2000 champion Jeg Coughlin, Jr., slapped a holeshot of .431 to .493 to gain the victory. Morgan clocked a 6.842-second lap at 201.31 mph, which was just enough to beat out Coughlin's 6.809-second run at 202.61 mph.

"I figured I'd better get them (on the tree)," Morgan added."Those kids I'm racing are sure good on their lights though. The thing is, I never go in there with a game plan. I usually get up there and don't plan on doing anything. I just got lucky and everything went my way. It was Bill Elliot's day, and it was mine too.

"We've worked real hard at this new Hemi program," Morgan continued."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 todayt."

Morgan advanced by defeating Mark Whisnant in the first round and fellow Hemi-powered driver Greg Stanfield in round two.

Bill Elliot, driver of the No. 9 Dodge Motorsports Intrepid NASCAR Winston Cup Series entry, won today's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway; making it the second-straight weekend that at least two Dodge's have visited victory lane.

DEAN SKUZA, driver of the Mopar Parts Dodge Stratus R/T

Dean Skuza is one of the hottest drivers on the NHRA Funny Car circuit. For the third-straight race, the Mopar Parts Dodge Stratus R/T Nitro Funny Car pilot drove to the semifinals. And once again, Skuza faced off against John Force in a round of eliminations. But Force took the upper hand this time with a 4.890-second elapsed time at 306.67 mph; as Skuza's hopes went up in smoke.

"We're not going to be satisfied until we win races," Skuza said."That's the way this team has been assembled and that's why this new Dodge Stratus body was created. It's not to go out and get to the semifinals all the time. None of us are satisfied again. I think we found the culprit and that's the good thing.

"It was something in the clutch," Skuza added."The only way you find these little nuances and little problems is to go rounds. Unfortunately, we didn't go-rounds earlier this year. We have been lately. Race day is a different scenario than qualifying or even match racing. You can test all that you want, but when you seat the clutch and you're up on the line an hour later, the temperatures are different. We're going to Columbus for the Mopar Nationals next weekend and we're going to run the car like we're running in eliminations. We're going to figure out why we can't take that little step and get over the edge. Once we do that, I think you'll see us go to some finals and win some races."

Skuza moved into the semifinals with a round one victory over Cruz Pedregon and a second-round defeat of Whit Bazemore. In the second round, Skuza ran a 4.946-second lap at 301.07 mph.

GENE WILSON, driver of the Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T

Gene Wilson and the Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T ran a solid 6.798-second elapsed time at 202.73 mph, but it wasn't enough to overcome V. Gaines starting-line advantage and 6.845-second pass at 202.67 mph.

"At least the track was awesome," said a frustrated Wilson."V., had a .417 light and I had a .474. What else can I say? It's just more bad luck for me. The car was there, but I didn't get he job done on the tree."

DARRELL ALDERMAN, driver of the Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T

Darrell Alderman, driver of the Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T, grabbed a holeshot on Kurt Johnson (.461-.478), but severe tire shake ended his day early. Johnson clicked off a 6.798-second lap at 203.46 mph to Alderman's slower 6.910-second pass at 202.21 mph.

"We spun a little too hard," Alderman said."We shook pretty hard and that's part of it. And I think the right lane is a lot better out there."

Alderman's 10th-qualifying slot gave Johnson lane choice, who went with the right.

GREG STANFIELD, driver of the DBP Motorsports Dodge Neon R/T

In an all-Dodge second round, Larry Morgan knocked Greg Stanfield out. Stanfield and the DBP Motorsports Hemi-powered Dodge Neon R/T ran a solid 6.832-second elapsed time at 202.27 mph.

Stanfield advanced to the second round with a holeshot (.441-.492) victory on point leader Jim Yates in round one. The Bossier City, La., resident logged a slower 6.842-second lap at 202.55 mph, but it was too much for Yates' 6.793-second run at 202.76 mph.

"It was Dodge against Dodge out there," Stanfield said."We knew it was going to be a tough run. We still have a lot to learn with our car. I'm real happy with where we are right now. I think we have decent power; I'm not sure that we have top of the line power just yet. I need time. The biggest commodity of today is time."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Darrell Alderman , Kurt Johnson , Dean Skuza , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Larry Morgan , Bob Glidden , Gene Wilson , Greg Stanfield , Mark Whisnant