Mopar Speed news 2005-05-16

Mopar Speed Monday, May 16, 2005 NHRA FC Capps Takes Backup Car to Semis in Atlanta Ron Capps took the Brut Dodge Stratus backup Funny Car through two strong rounds in the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in Atlanta, Ga., before ...

Mopar Speed news 2005-05-16
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Mopar Speed
Monday, May 16, 2005


Capps Takes Backup Car to Semis in Atlanta

Ron Capps took the Brut Dodge Stratus backup Funny Car through two strong rounds in the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in Atlanta, Ga., before landing in the semifinal round. He first dismissed Bob Gilbertson in the opening round with a 4.856/319.37, then Eric Medlen in the second round with a 4.797/320.66, while also brushing the wall after the finish line. In the semifinal round he faced Robert Hight, but smoked the tires early, losing with a 9.861/96.71 to Hight's 4.798/323.74.

"We pulled out the backup car on Monday after Bristol [two weekends ago]," explained Capps, who qualified No. 2 in Atlanta in this car. "On the first lap it ran a 4.81. So the team loaded everything up and ran back to Murph McKinney's [chassis shop]. We took our primary car back there and, sure enough, we discovered it was bent."

As for the semifinal round, Capps said: "I'm not sure what happened. [Crew Chief] Ace [McCulloch] is trying to figure out why. It shouldn't have smoked the tires like that. Everything on the computer pretty much looks normal. I'm sure after a couple of hours of looking, they'll figure out what happened."

Due to his achievements over the weekend, Capps moves into seventh in the NHRA POWERade Funny Car point standings with 371 points, 118 out of first, and 57 out of fifth.

Gary Scelzi's dramatic day at the NHRA Southern Nationals ended in the quarterfinal when he lost to Cruz Pedregon. The fact that the Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus Funny Car even made it down the track in 4.917 seconds at 304.05 mph to Pedregon's winning 4.882/315.78 was testament to crew chief Mike Neff and his band of warriors, who put the car back together following an explosion in a winning first-round race against Richard Hartman.

Scelzi won the opener with a 7.425/112.64 pass to Hartman's 9.017/126.80, but a burst of fire in the car at half-track demolished a number of valuable components, which had to be replaced before the second round match-up. As the team scurried to replace the damaged parts, a welcome rain shower provided some breathing space.

"It was a pretty big effort to drag the Mopar/Oakley Dodge back up there and run as well as it did," Scelzi said.

Scelzi now stands fifth in the point standings, with 428 points.

Whit Bazemore was 58 points ahead of John Force coming into last weekend's event. However, No. 5 qualifier Force won the contest with a 4.919-second elapsed time at 308.00 mph. Bazemore, who had qualified 12th in the Matco Tools Iron Eagle Dodge Stratus R/T, smoked the tires in the less desirable left lane after nailing a .054 reaction time to Force's .093, posting a losing 7.759-second ET at 118.69 mph.

Force went on to win the event, which dropped Bazemore into second in the standings, 24 points behind. Runner-up Robert Hight took over third, with 454 points.

"We just smoked the tires," said Bazemore. "We can't blame anybody but ourselves. It's a very tough defeat. We had four hundredths [of a second] on him at the starting line, so we only had to run a 4.96 or something close and we didn't."

Next up: the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series travels to National Trail Raceway in Columbus, Ohio, May 20-22.


Rain Drenches Stevens' Hope for a Win

Following a four-hour rain delay last Sunday at Atlanta Dragway, lane choice for the Pro Stock class at the NHRA Southern Nationals was a gamble, especially for the first pair out after Top Fuel and Funny Cars completed their runs. Unfortunately, Richie Stevens Jr. was in that pairing in the Team Mopar/Valspar Hemi-powered Dodge Stratus Pro Stock versus Larry Morgan.

Stevens had earned lane choice by qualifying eighth and selected the right lane. That choice might have bitten him. He had a tough time getting the car hooked up to the finish and lost to Morgan's 6.796/202.76 with a 6.853/201.49 pass. The margin of victory was .1101 of a second.

"Every time I pulled the gears, it broke loose and started shaking," said Stevens Jr. "In second gear, third, fourth and even in high gear. As soon as I pulled fifth gear, it broke loose.

"We made four good runs in qualifying and never had a problem. I'm not going to put the full blame on the lanes, but Rickie Smith was right behind us in that lane and he said his car did the same thing, pretty much. He just lifted. I stayed in it, like a fool, I guess, but I made it down the track, and Rickie didn't (7.892/128.76).

Stevens remains in eighth place in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Pro Stock point standings, with 330 points.

Jeg Coughlin Jr., and the Jeg's Mail Order/Mopar Dodge Stratus R/T beat Rickie Smith in the first round of eliminations at NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in Atlanta, Ga., with an et of 6.814 and a speed of 202.15 mph to Smith's 7.892 et and 128.76 mph. However, the second round wasn't as kind to Coughlin Jr. who narrowly lost to Jason Line, who had a 6.745 et and 203.65 mph to the 6.790 et and 203.22 mph of Coughlin Jr.

Piloting the J and J Dodge Stratus R/T, Allen Johnson was eliminated in the first round with an et of 6.807 and 202.06 mph to Mike Edwards' 6.819 et and 202.48 mph.

The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series travels to National Trail Raceway in Columbus, Ohio, May 20-22.


Musgrave Tangled in Accident; Races Back to 12th Position

Ted Musgrave and the No. 1 Ultra Motorsports team battled back to claim a 12th-place finish in the Ohio 250 at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway in Mansfield, Ohio, on Sunday. Musgrave qualified the No. 1 Mopar Dodge Ram in third position to start the race from the inside of the second row. The veteran had been in third position before being collected by Kelly Sutton's spinning machine on lap 108.

Never giving up, the Ultra Motorsports team was able to make sufficient repairs to the No. 1 machine to allow Musgrave to continue on in the event. Their efforts assisted him in obtaining valuable championship points, as Musgrave came into the Mansfield event leading the point chase. After the accident, Musgrave fell the 25th position, but by lap 220, he had brought his damaged machine back into the 12th position. The No. 1 team only lost one position in the championship points chase, as Musgrave now sits in second place, 45 points behind fellow Dodge driver Bobby Hamilton.

Musgrave and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will resume racing action on Friday, May 20, at Lowe's Motor Speedway at Charlotte. The No. 1 team won the event in 2003 and will look to repeat this weekend.

Live coverage from Lowe's Motor Speedway at Charlotte is scheduled to begin at 8:30 p.m. EST on Speed Channel.


Mother Nature Rains Out Race Day

The Tony Stewart Racing Enterprises duo of Josh Wise and Jay Drake were once again defeated by Mother Nature as rain washed out the USAC National Sprint Car Series event scheduled for May 14 at the Terre Haute Action Track, in Terra Haute, Ind. The half-mile oval became unsafe for racing after heavy rain completely saturated the facility.

Drake, Wise and the rest of the USAC National Sprint Car Series competitors will have this week off before resuming action on May 25 at Anderson Speedway in Anderson, Ind. Drake and the No. 21 team will lead the series points battle into the event, while Wise will enter the event in the eighth position.


Rain, Rain Made Racing Go Away

Heavy rain and the threat of severe weather postponed the Ohio Challenge for Danny Lasoski and the World of Outlaws Sprint Series over the weekend. Series officials were forced to cancel the World of Outlaws Sprint Series/All Star Circuit of Champions co-sanctioned event at K-C Raceway in Chillicothe, Ohio, after rain made the racing surface unsafe.

Lasoski and the No. 20 Tony Stewart Motorsports team will rejoin the World of Outlaws Sprint Series later this week, as they begin their first East Coast swing of the season. The No. 20 team will enter the Commonwealth Clash at Lernverville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., on Friday and Saturday in sixth position in the series points chase.


Francis Fights to 10th at Butler Battlegrounds

Steve Francis and the No. 15 team earned a hard-fought 10th-place finish at Butler Battlegrounds in Quincy, Mich., on Saturday night in World of Outlaws Late Model Series competition. Francis qualified in 11th position and picked up a second-place heat race finish to earn the 11th starting position in the feature event. With the track taking heavy rubber, Francis battled with series standouts John Vandenberg and Scott Bloomquist to take the 10th-place finish.

The World of Outlaws Late Model Series lost the battle against Mother Nature on Friday night, as severe thunderstorms toppled powerpoles and caused a power outage at Limaland Motorsports Park in Lima, Ohio. After learning that it could take up to 10 hours to repair the lines, series officials were forced to cancel the event.

Francis and the No. 15 team will resume action this week on May 20 at Brushcreek Motorsports Complex in Peebles, Ohio and on May 21 at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind.


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