Mopar Sunday Elimination Notes
NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series
23rd Annual Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals
Final Eliminations Notes & Quotes
Bazemore Takes Stratus to Semifinals
Commerce, Ga. (May 4, 2003) -- NHRA Funny Car driver Whit Bazemore led the
Mopar contingent to the semifinal round during today¹s 23rd Annual Summit
Racing Equipment Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
Bazemore piloted his Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T to the
semifinals this afternoon, but fell to on-track rival Tony Pedregon.
Bazemore posted a reaction time of .058 seconds compared to Pedregon¹s
.064-second light. The advantage was short lived as Bazemore¹s Funny Car
shook its tires within the first 60 feet of the 1,320-foot contest. The
Dodge passed the finish line in 7.114 seconds at 167.53 mph. Those numbers
would not compare to Pedregon¹s pass of 5.102 seconds at 275.96 mph.
³We¹re not really satisfied with just going to the semifinals,² Bazemore
said. ³It¹s a tough loss because basically he (Tony Pedregon) gave it to me
and I couldn¹t take advantage of it. If they went out and ran a 70 in the
heat, then hats off (to them) and it wasn¹t our destiny. Don (Schumacher),
Lee (Beard, crew chief) and I just had a very good conversation to take
address that part of the race track with our Matco Tools Dodge and we think
the changes we make will post good times and make the car a little more
consistent as opposed to smoking the tires like we have done a lot lately at
that point on the race track. We did it again today in that last round. If
God is smiling on you, then you can run a 5.80 (seconds), if not, you¹ll
just struggle to hook the car back up for the rest of the run -- like I did.
You just can¹t win races like that.²
Powerplant woes plagued the rest of the Mopar stable as Funny Car shoe Gary
Scelzi fell to Johnny Gray in the first round after a cylinder dropped
mid-way through the quarter-mile run. The 42-year-old California resident
posted a time of 4.972 seconds that translated to a speed of 301.00 mph.
That pass was not enough to displace Gray¹s 4,864-second, 313.47 mph run.
³We thought we had this thing pretty much sorted out,² Scelzi said. ³We have
this new supercharger that will go 12 to 14 runs. We stayed in Bristol and
tested and have our clutch set up back and pretty much everything back to
our beginning-of-the-year baseline. I went up against Johnny Gray in the
first round and he jumped in the stage, whether on purpose or not, and I
rushed myself into the stage. I didn¹t stage as deep as I normally do and
all that does is help your reaction time, it doesn¹t do anything for the
elapsed time of the car. We had our best 60-foot time and reaction time of
the weekend. The bottom line was that 100 feet into the run, we dropped a
cylinder and lost 750 horsepower. Why it did that, we don¹t know. Right
now my crew chief is trying to figure out why our cylinder temperatures are
so far apart when they should be closer. They¹re examining the supercharger
to see what happened because it¹s not doing the same thing that (Whit)
Bazemore¹s car (Schumacher teammate). The manufacturer does everything it
can to make the superchargers consistent and we¹ve had it on a blower dyno
earlier in the season.
³We switched to these supercharger a few months ago and we¹re still chasing
gremlins. It¹s disheartening because it will show us signs of promise, then
it won¹t do what it¹s supposed to do,² Scelzi continued. ³You know, you just
have to keep beating that rock with a hammer and soon enough, it will break
into small pieces. That¹s what we¹re doing right now. The important thing
is to keep everyone up and not let the guys get discouraged because this
stuff will wear you thin. You¹ll have more bad days than good days in this
business, but we¹re trying to change that. We¹ll get this together and make
everyone at Dodge and Mopar happy and try to put a smile on Don Schumacher¹s
The Mopar Pro Stock racers were not able to advance to the quarterfinals
this afternoon as engine troubles crushed all three drivers¹ efforts. Allen
Johnson was the first Mopar to the line and his pass of 8.384 seconds/114.28
mph reflected the loss of horsepower when the engine dropped a cylinder
midway through the run. Mark Pawuk advanced on the strength of a 200.92 mph
run in just 6.862 seconds.
³This was very disappointing,² Johnson noted. ³About halfway through the run
a cylinder dropped and destroyed the engine. I was looking forward to
moving through the rounds and defending last year¹s win. It was just
disappointing all around. We¹ve got three or four other engines to work
with and we¹ll get this team ready for Englishtown.²
Darrell Alderman didn¹t fare any better with a new engine that was placed in
his Hemi mount Sunday morning. Alderman logged a run of 6.853 seconds at
201.88 mph, which was his best pass of the weekend. However, it was not
enough to beat Kurt Johnson¹s 6.825 second/202.94 mph effort.
³We had the best run of our weekend, but it just wasn¹t enough,² Alderman
said. ³ I thought we might have hurt the motor a little yesterday afternoon,
and it proved out today to be hurt. So, we pulled it out this morning and
put another bullet in and we made a better run all the way around. It¹s
just a shame that we didn¹t do that in qualifying, because then we wouldn¹t
have faced the guy who has been winning so much lately (Kurt Johnson).
We¹ll just regroup and focus our efforts on Englishtown.²
Greg Stanfield lined up against 2002 category champion Jeg Coughlin Jr., in
the first round and posted a run of 6.894 seconds at 200.80 mph. Stanfield
was not able to overcome Coughlin¹s showing of 6.829 seconds at 201.37 mph.
³I don¹t think the air here likes Hemis,² Stanfield said. ³We hurt the motor
and I know that Allen Johnson how some problems, too. The motor was an
issue and we didn¹t really get the combination for this track either. We
started out O.K., but then things went downhill after the last qualifying
run. We¹re going to regroup, get this car back together and get to the next
race with smiles on our faces.²