TOPEKA, Kan. -- Mopar Motorsports NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series teams completed the final day of qualifying for this weekend's O'Reilly Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka. NOTABLE: The Pro Stock field is one of the tightest ever, as...
TOPEKA, Kan. -- Mopar Motorsports NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series teams completed the final day of qualifying for this weekend's O'Reilly Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka.
NOTABLE: The Pro Stock field is one of the tightest ever, as .025 of a second separates the top-16 qualifiers. In fact, Darrell Alderman's No. 1 qualifying time of 6.882 seconds during last night's first and only session would not have been quick enough to make today's field.
The following are notes and quotes from today's qualifying activity.
DEAN SKUZA, driver of the Mopar Parts Dodge Stratus R/T
Under the pressure of not making the show, Dean Skuza and the Mopar Parts Dodge Stratus R/T Nitro Funny Car clicked off a solid 4.985-second elapsed time at 305.36 mph in the third and last qualifying session. The run was good enough to collect the 12th-qualifying slot and earn the right to take on Ron Capps in the first round.
"That last few weeks we've had abbreviated qualifying sessions," said Skuza, talking about the having only three qualifying sessions at the last three NHRA national events."I think we're good enough to get through that. Sometimes you almost like it because if you can come out of the box even semi-strong to have a good baseline I think it plays well into our hands. Here it was a little screwy because of that night run. The temperature was down and it was really humid and the track had such unbelievable teeth. It meant that a lot of cars either shook or made. There was no in between. We were one of the teams that shook unfortunately. What we did was we put in a lot more power, but the track temperature from last night to today went from 74 to 111 degrees. I think it was a case of real overcompensation. You're just asking for it if you aren't in. We left a lot on the table, but on the last shot, you can't afford any mistakes. That was a good baseline for tomorrow. We're going to knock a tenth off of it and make four runs in a row for a change."
GENE WILSON, driver of the Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T
Gene Wilson stepped up the program and captured the highest-qualified position of his career in fourth. Wilson, pilot of the Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T, who also made the quickest run of the fourth session in the heat of the day, clicked off a 6.856-second lap at 201.37 mph during today's second session. The Augusta, Ga., resident has a first round match with Mark Whisnant.
"I'm more than happy," Wilson said."It's just an unbelievable time for the team and me personally. Everybody is doing a great job in making the calls and getting this car down these hot, greasy tracks. It's really a challenge to come out and get down the track when the track is this type of temperature. This Mopar Performance Parts Neon is going to be a good race car tomorrow. If I stay sharp on the lights, it should be a good day."
LARRY MORGAN, driver of the Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T
Severe tire shake during the final-qualifying session ended Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T driver Larry Morgan's weekend prematurely. The 47-year-old Morgan made a 6.891-second pass at 200.44 mph.
"We made a bad run on that last one," said Morgan, who had to shut off during that last session."We made a bar change because the track got warmer. David (Nickens) thought I should have done that. I try to do what he says and hope that he's right. It shook the tires real bad. We just missed it.
"I'm going testing tomorrow for Chicago," Morgan added."We're going to St. Louis right now."
DARRELL ALDERMAN, driver of the Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T
After collecting the provisional No. 1 after yesterday's first session, Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T driver Darrell Alderman hung on to the 15th slot. Despite improving his elapsed time and speed at 6.875 seconds at 200.47 mph, the three-time POWERade Pro Stock World Champion struggled in his two passes today.
Alderman will face off against J.R. Car in the first round of eliminations.
"We lost some time in our 60-foot pass on that last hit," Alderman said."It shook the tires on that one as well. We think we had too small of a tire on it. So we're going to put a little larger tire on it and see if that will help out a little."