Topeka: Mopar Saturday notes

TOPEKA, Kan. (May 26, 2001) - The Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T Pro Stock Truck entry of hometown hero Todd Patterson maintained a solid fourth-qualifying position heading into tomorrow's NHRA national event at Heartland Park Topeka. The Augusta,...

TOPEKA, Kan. (May 26, 2001) - The Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T Pro Stock Truck entry of hometown hero Todd Patterson maintained a solid fourth-qualifying position heading into tomorrow's NHRA national event at Heartland Park Topeka.

The Augusta, Kan., resident laid down a 7.485-second elapsed time at a track record speed of 181.23 mph in yesterday's second session, setting up a first round match up with Mike Coughlin.

"We were real happy with today's efforts," Patterson said. "We were third quick during both sessions and the fastest truck during the fourth.

"We knew that if we improved our 60-foot times that we would be better off," Patterson continued. "We came out this morning and picked up in the front half, but we had a more severe side wind and that was bucking us up the track and that's why we lost about a half a mile per hour. All in all, we went 180 (mph) on every run."

Patterson talked about tomorrow.

"The starting line is starting to go away and I think that's what we can expect for tomorrow," Patterson added. "We're going to go out and try to make four good runs tomorrow. We knew the weather conditions were going to be worse for today's final session, so we made some adjustments to see how the truck would react. I think might have been a little too aggressive with the clutch. We're going to leave the suspension the same and try to back down a little on the clutch and find that happy medium."

Alderman & Osborne Prepare For Eliminations

The Mopar Parts factory backed Pro Stock brigade head into tomorrow's eliminations with a great deal of confidence. Both three-time Winston Pro Stock World Champion Darrell Alderman and Mark Osborne are buoyed by the fact that Dodge's have competed in six of the 12 Pro Stock finals held at Heartland Park Topeka.

Alderman, who drove his Dodge R/T to the finals in last year's event, secured the sixth qualifying position after posting a 6.888-second lap at 200.00 mph during Friday's first session. Warmer weather conditions prevented any improvement in elapsed time, but Alderman clocked the second quickest time in the third and the best elapsed time of the fourth session. Alderman will face V. Gaines in round one of eliminations.

"We've got this car running pretty well this weekend," Alderman said. "I know that we have a car capable of winning this weekend. We'll just take it one round at a time and see what happens."

Despite some tense moments, Osborne slipped into the 16th-qualifying position and a round one match up with number-one qualifier Warren Johnson. The Abingdon, Va., resident ran a 6.916-second elapsed time at 199.64 mph during Friday's second session.

"Well, we've got W.J. in round one tomorrow," Osborne said. "I know he's been running into some bad luck this weekend. His son (Kurt) didn't qualify and he had some problems in the fourth session and we hope that continues for the first round of eliminations tomorrow. Maybe we can take him in the first round."

Consistently Skuza

Dean Skuza drove his Dodge Motorsports Dakota R/T to the seventh position after posting four very consistent qualifying passes in preparation for eliminations. The Brecksville, Ohio resident will take on Johnny Gray in round one.

Skuza was the only driver to put together four-straight runs below 4.90-seconds this weekend, which held a bump spot of 4.916-seconds - the quickest NHRA nitro Funny Car field in history.

"It went down the track four times and that's what we wanted to do," Skuza noted. "We had two 4.84's, a 4.85 and a 4.89 and that's really good. Even though we ended up seventh, we're ready for race day. We didn't try to rotate the earth; we just tried to continue what we were doing. We learned a lot and found different things on every run.

"We have a good baseline going into tomorrow," Skuza said. "If it's hot or cool, we'll be in good shape."

Morgan Barely Misses

A little bad luck hampered the efforts of Dodge Motorsports R/T Pro Stock driver Larry Morgan. The Newark, Ohio resident, despite making a solid 6.920-second lap at 199.52 mph, collected the 17th-qualifying position, missing the top 16 by .04 of a second.

"It was the clutch," Morgan said. "We made our bad run in the good session. If I had not rolled through the lights during that session I would have run a 6.88 or 6.89. We were seventh or eighth quickest during both sessions today. We've just had some bad luck."

Bad Weekend

The father-son duo of Dale and Craig Eaton experienced a weekend they would soon like to forget. The Phoenix, Ariz., residents both failed to qualify their Dodge Dakota R/T Pro Stock Truck entries.

Craig Eaton, who drives the Dodge Motorsports-backed entry, managed a 7.601-second pass at 177.00 and missed the top 16.

"Bad weekend," C Eaton surmised. "We put a set of tires on my truck and lost like a tenth and a half. We lost like a tenth last night, but I ran them again this morning and we lost more. We put my dad's set on my truck, and it still didn't help. This is the second race that we've been kind of bit by the tire bug. We're going to stay here Monday and do some tire testing."

Mopar Parts pilot Dale Eaton clocked a 7.626/177.00 combination, also failing to qualify.

"It wasn't the best weekend we've ever had," said a disappointed D. Eaton. "We're trying to figure a bunch of stuff out. We made a few mistakes. And I'm not sure if we know yet, what all those mistakes were. We should have run a lot better because these things are lot better than what they show. I just can't wait for those new trucks."

Smith Ready For Eliminations

Rickie Smith, a future Mopar Parts-sponsored driver, earned the right to face defending Pro Stock World Champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. in a round-one eliminator by grabbing the 12th-qualifying position.

Smith ran a 6.908-second elapsed time at 199.55 mph.

"We tried some different stuff and it seemed to work," Smith said. "We knew this last session was going to slower, so we finally tried some different things and changed the gear ratios. We have a tough one tomorrow, but maybe I can pull one out."

Smith's teammate and team owner Kenny Koretsky failed to make the show. The Pennsylvania resident managed a weekend best of 6.944/198.06.

"It wasn't a bad weekend," Koretsky noted. "We didn't qualify, but we learned a few things. We tried a different clutch set up and different transmission. We also found run some new Goodyear tires. We really picked up the program, especially during that last session."


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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Darrell Alderman , Warren Johnson , Dean Skuza , Larry Morgan , Todd Patterson , Mike Coughlin , Kenny Koretsky , Johnny Gray , Rickie Smith