Topeka: Mopar Friday notes

TOPEKA, Kan. (May 25, 2001) -- Todd Patterson wowed the home crowd at Heartland Park Topeka with a track-record speed of 181.23 mph in his next-generation Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T Pro Stock Truck entry during today's second-qualifying ...

TOPEKA, Kan. (May 25, 2001) -- Todd Patterson wowed the home crowd at Heartland Park Topeka with a track-record speed of 181.23 mph in his next-generation Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T Pro Stock Truck entry during today's second-qualifying session.

Patterson, who lives in nearby Augusta, grabbed the fourth position with a 7.485-second elapsed time. The veteran driver also became the first Dodge Pro Stock Truck driver to eclipse the 180-mph mark and the first driver over 181 mph at HPT.

"We knew if we improved our numbers at the start we would have had a better elapsed time and better speed," Patterson said. "We think we can improve on the elapsed time during tomorrow's third session and I hope we can match our speed. It's really great to get the track record on our home track."

Patterson debuted the next generation Dodge Dakota R/T in Las Vegas earlier this year.

"The guys at the shop have been great and my dad has really been hammering on the motor," said Patterson, speaking of Patterson Racing team owner and engine builder Allan Patterson. "We found a little bit of power right before the race and we went out and showed it today."

The former NHRA Sportsman standout talked about this weekend's expectations.

"There's always a little added pressure here," Patterson commented. "I drove like a rookie today and I was hitting myself in the face when I got to the finish line because I did so many stupid things today. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a new day and we can step up and grab the number one spot."

Skuza Captures Fifth

Dean Skuza and the Mopar Parts Dodge R/T Nitro Funny Car garnered the fifth-qualifying position with a 4.840-second pass at 311.41 mph during today's first session.

"We tried to run a high 4.70 in that second session," Skuza said. "It fell off upstairs for whatever reason, so we're going to tear it down and figure that out. We did everything we wanted down low, but we lost a lot of mph through the upper part. I think we might have blew through the clutch, even though we compensated for better track conditions."

Alderman & Osborne Solid

The Hemi-powered Mopar Parts Pro Stock duo of three-time Winston World Champion Darrell Alderman and Mark Osborne both captured top-16 qualifying spots during today's first session.

Alderman, who made it to the finals during last year's Heartland Park Topeka NHRA national event, collected the sixth slot with a 6.888-second pass at 200.00 mph. Alderman was unable to improve on his second lap.

"We made two good runs, but we really felt we could have run better tonight," Alderman said. "We lost a little from our first (session) 60-foot time. I should have shifted a little lower on the start and the run would have been better."

Osborne drove his Dodge R/T to the 14th-qualifying position with a 6.916-second elapsed time at 199.64 mph.

"I'm not driving too well," said a candid Osborne. "I was 9,200 (rpm) out of the first two gears and it wasn't set up in the bell housing for that. It's like we have a bracket car right now, but we want to go a little faster tomorrow."

So Far, So Good

Larry Morgan guided his Dodge Motorsports R/T Pro Stock mount to the 15th position following the first day of qualifying with a 6.922-second run at 199.14 mph.

"I couldn't get out of low gear," Morgan said. "It just bogs and shuts off. We need to take a little bite out of the car and we know we can run well. If you look at the computer, it takes off and it stops. I also rolled the lights and it hurt my elapsed time.

"We should have run a 6.87 or 6.88," Morgan added. "We shook in the first part of the track and there was just no way we were going to make it happen."

Eaton's Struggle

It wasn't a stellar day of qualifying for Eaton Enterprises. Both Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T driver Craig Eaton and Mopar Parts Dodge Dakota R/T pilot Dale Eaton failed to crack the top-16 qualifiers.

C. Eaton, who managed the 16th position after the first session, fell out of the grid with a 7.601-second lap 177.00 mph.

"We really missed the set up on our last one," C. Eaton noted. "We just had too much fuel in it and it was just too fast for the clutch. Once we take some fuel out of it, we should make a pretty decent run."

D. Eaton, who clocked a 7.644-second elapsed time 177.30 mph in today's first session, failed to make a second run after suffering mechanical woes.

"The accelerator stuck and we couldn't make the run because of it," said D. Eaton, who shut off his mount following the burnout. "I tried to pull it up with my foot when I was out there after the burnout. Stuff just keeps happening. It's very frustrating."

Smith in the Show

Rickie Smith, who awaits his semi-factory backed Dodge Neon Pro Stock machine, drove to the 11th position with a 6.908-second lap at 199.55 mph. The King, N.C. resident based his second qualifying effort on what his teammate Kenny Koretsky ran earlier in the session.

"When I watched Kenny's car leave, it was just too aggressive," Smith quoted. "I think they had too much clutch, so I went back and lowered it. I just went up there and run my deal. We could have run a 6.89. We were good enough for another hundredth and a half, which would have moved us up three or four slots."

Koretsky's 6.985/197.80 combination wasn't good enough to make the show.

"I was ready on that last run to make a good pass," Koretsky said. "The transmission broke in the water burnout. I ran anyway, thinking that I could have held it in high gear, but it didn't happen."

-Mopar

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Series NHRA
Drivers Darrell Alderman , Dean Skuza , Larry Morgan , Todd Patterson , Kenny Koretsky , Rickie Smith , Allan Patterson