Madison Pro Modified Notebook
By Bobby Bennett, Jr., www.competitionplus.com
Photos by Brian Wood
Final eliminations: Rowe slams last chapter shut with win
Dan Rowe felt that he entered the Sears Craftsman Nationals in Madison, Ill., as an underdog. However, at the end of the day, it was the 39-year old, import business owner from Laguna Hills, Calif., that showed the most ferocious bite. He also showed the boys back in the Southeast that the left coast knows how to go doorslammer racing as well.
Rowe recorded the best runs of his career to repel Ed Hoover's upset-minded bid to win a second consecutive Pro Modified exhibition. His supercharged 1938 Chevrolet was a beast starting from the final qualifying session and ending on the money run.
It was a pleasant surprise for Rowe.
"This I unbelievable," explained Rowe. "It is always good to come out against these guys from the East Coast in Pro Modified. We know they are real strong and we felt like we had a lot that we could bring to the table. The funny thing is that we just didn't know how much we had to bring to the table. We really stepped it up and we felt real good."
What's really impressive in Rowe's victory is that he made the quickest laps of his career. He posted a 6.241, 220.80; 6.2239, 222.47; and a 6.270, 221.67 to knock off Chip King, Rickie Smith and Hoover. The quickest that he had been before today was a 6.30.
"We added a little bit to it and our engine man John Scialpi did a great job of tuning it and setting it up," explained Rowe. "The car just ran good this weekend. It's not only that, we have good guys working on the car. They are unbelievable and they got this car down the track. The first couple of runs, we had a hard time getting our clutch right. The track was a little slick, but my guys brought it around and we figured it out and were able to get after it."
The funny thing about becoming the first supercharged car to win an exhibition is that Rowe had no idea that the blower cars were winless.
"I had no idea," Rowe confided. "I knew that we came in here having a pretty good chance, but the key was going to be to get the combination together to make it down the track. We are excited to be going into Indy and I'm glad we got into there. "
He pointed out that he knew that Madison would be the final attempt to get onto the invite list for the final exhibition of the season. With that in mind, he still didn't feel pressure to perform.
"We kind of looked at it like we didn't have anything to lose," Rowe confided. "We went in here kind of as the unknown team and I think that worked to our advantage. We wanted to surprise a lot of people and I think that's exactly what we did here."
He feels that the quality of his engine man Scialpi made all the difference in debunking the myth that blown cars can't run in the heat.
"I have to give him a lot of the credit," explained Rowe. "He has worked hard to make these motors real well. We just tried to compliment them with a good tune-up. We're not as lucky to get to run at good quality tracks and we don't often get to run at good altitudes. The weather is always an issue, but we are used to running at the high altitudes, so we are accustomed to running without a lot of weather to work with."
For his effort, Hoover rattled the cages of the supercharged camp by stopping Ron Kammes and Thomas Patterson to reach the finals.
"We gave it our best shot," explained Hoover. "I knew that he was making some incredible runs and that it was going to take a perfect run to win this. The car drifted out of the groove and I knew it was pretty much over at that point."
Saturday, session 2: Rowe rows his boat to top spot
A betting man would have lost a lot of money if he were asked to wager on the qualified field for the NHRA Pro Modified exhibition at the Sears Craftsman Nationals in Madison, Ill. When the smoke cleared for the final event before Indy it was Californian Dan Rowe that had the right stuff.
Rowe, 39, and an import company owner from Laguna Hills, shocked everyone when he made a career best lap that landed his supercharged 1938 Chevrolet in the top spot of the eight-car field. When we mention the word shocked, there was no more of person that fit that description than Rowe did.
"We have had a rough weekend," explained Rowe, who drives a Pro Modified formerly owned by Al Billes. "I will take this one. It felt good and to be honest, I thought it was a 6.30. I think this has been a long time coming. We kept hammering away at this thing and it finally came around."
When we speak of coming around, no one could have imagined Ron Kammes as the second quickest qualifier after the final session. Kammes, of Bloomingdale, Ill., had yet to make a pass down the Gateway quarter-mile under power. With tuning help coming from Darren Mayer, Kammes rode to a personal best with a 6.241, 220.19. His previous best was a 6.254 during a test session in Joliet.
There were several times that Kammes put the car up on one wheel and with the changing of shocks prior to the final attempt, it made all the difference in the world.
"We were shocked," explained Kammes. "We got out of shape there a few times and I remember one incident where a photographer commented that I looked like I was coming at him. I told the gentleman that I could see his eyes getting big, to which he reminded me that I wasn't supposed to be watching him. Darren and Troy Critchley has really helped me to get a handle on this thing."
Thomas Patterson, a 30-year old excavator from Houston, Texas landed in the third position on the strength of his Friday evening run. The low qualifier from Friday continued the breaking in process on his 1963 Corvette by running within close proximity of his 6.275, 223.17.
Iowa-based Chevrolet dealer Carl Moyer stepped up to establish himself as the quickest nitrous-injected competitor. Moyer, of Ankeny, called upon his veteran prowess to claim the fourth spot with his radical 1957 Chevy. Moyer's best was a 6.292, 221.71.
Moyer replaced Rickie Smith as the leading bottle rocket during the final session. The Gainesville exhibition winner initially became the first of the carbureted machines to run in the 6.20s as he pushed his Dodge Viper to a 6.294, 223.25.
Billy Harper continued the Viper assault as he made his NHRA exhibition debut a positive one by stepping into the sixth spot. The Paducah, Ky.-based business owner, who is responsible for bringing the sleek body style into the class, made his mark with a 6.297, 220.66.
Commerce winner Ed Hoover failed to improve, but maintained his level of consistency. The Columbia, S.C.-based winner of the first-ever Pro Modified national event in 1990, stood on his 6.315, 221.89.
Chip King became the only Pro Modified racer to qualify for every Pro Modified exhibition leading into the final event in Indy. King, 38, of Semora, N.C., was trying out a new supercharger in the final session with his Hemi-powered Dodge R/T. He rounded out the field with a 6.333, 221.23.
For the first time this season, neither Stott Brother, Quain nor Mitch, qualified for final eliminations.
Saturday, session 1: Patterson proves top spot to be no fluke
Some might may have considered Thomas Patterson's 6.275 during yesterday's evening session to be a fluke, but the Houston, Texas-based excavator gave the skeptics a heaping dose of reality. Patterson, 30, in his third appearance on the NHRA Pro Modified exhibition tour, was one step ahead of the competition during the Sears Craftsman Nationals in Madison, Ill.
Patterson failed to improve on his Friday best, but that didn't stop him from stepping ahead of the competition with a 6.300, 222.25 in the heat of the day. So much for the myth that hot and humid weather is detrimental to a supercharged combination.
What's impressive is that the run was only the third full pass on the new 1963 Corvette.
"I'm happy to say the least," explained Patterson, who has yet to qualify for an NHRA exhibition. "We just wanted to maintain our pace and try and step ahead of the rest of the pack. We have got a good car thanks to Vanishing Point Race Cars and help from Eagle Racing Engines and Scotty Cannon has been valuable."
Making another impressive "straight as an arrow" attempt in the right lane was the Gainesville champion Rickie Smith. The King, N.C.-based veteran, who also doubles as the crewchief on Ron Krisher's Pro Stocker, maintained a measure of consistency as he posted a 6.352, 220.48, off of his 6.294 best.
Billy Harper of Paducah, Ky., retained the third spot in his nitrous-injected Dodge Viper. The longtime Mopar enthusiast, who owns a paving company, ran a 6.361, 218.80 in the heat of the day, which failed to improve off of his 6.297.
Ed Hoover emerged as the quickest nitrous entry of the session, yet failed to improve. The Columbia, S.C.-based driver of Paul Trussell's Commerce-winning 1963 Corvette had the right stuff as he blasted out a 6.346, 220.73.
The balance of field failed to improve and they entered the final session in the following order: Chip King (6.333, 221.23), Carl Moyer (6.338, 220.55), Quain Stott (6.345, 221.71), and Mitch Stott (6.358, 223.17).
One qualifying session remains for the Pro Modified entries.
Friday, session 2: Patterson puts on a new kind of spin
Up until today, Thomas Patterson's claim to fame in NHRA Pro Modified exhibition was his ability to spin a supercharged Pro Modified around during the course of a run and not touch either guard wall. His resume just took on a positive addition at the Sears Craftsman Nationals in Madison, Ill.
Patterson, 30, an excavator from Houston, Texas, provided all the drama that the capacity crowd at Gateway International Raceway could handle as he pushed his new Vanishing Point Race Cars-built, 1963 Corvette to the top spot, effectively ending the first session qualifying drought for the blower cars. His 6.275, 223.17, elevated him from DNQ status to the top of the qualifying perch.
Patterson knew his car had the potential to lay down an incredible run, this particular lap was a pleasant surprise. He has been as quick as 6-teens in pre-season testing, but this was a totally new car. In fact, that was the second full pass.
"It feels great," explained Thomas. "I knew when I dumped the clutch this this run was going to make my dad happy. I'll be honest, we are going for broke at this race. Making the invite list for Indy is our main objective. We have a lot more left in this car and we actually shook the tires on that run."
Patterson added that Scotty Cannon and Eagle Racing Engines provided valuable data that made the run possible.
Rickie Smith made the quantum leap into the second spot on what had to be the straightest run performed in the right lane. The Doug Herbert Performance Parts-sponsored Dodge Viper ended the first day of qualifying as the quickest of the nitrous cars. His best elapsed time for the day was a 6.294, 223.25.
Billy Harper was so close to third that he could feel it. The Paducah, Ky.-based, asphalt company owner put his nitrous-injected Dodge Viper into the top half of the field when he blistered the Gateway racing surface with a 6.297, 220.66.
Rounding out the top-half of the program was the Commerce exhibition champion Ed Hoover in Paul Trussell's 1963 Corvette. Hoover, who is credited with winning the first-ever Pro Modified event contested, stopped the clocks with a 6.315, 221.89.
The balance of the program included Chip King (6.333, 221.23), Carl Moyer (6.338, 220.55), Quain Stott (6.345, 221.71), and Mitch Stott (6.358, 223.17).
The Pro Modified exhibition racers will have two attempts tomorrow to secure a berth in the eight-car final eliminations program.
Friday, session one: Bristol winner Quain Stott paces early qualifying
Quain Stott continued the nitrous-injected stronghold on the NHRA Pro Modified exhibitions. Stott, 40, of Inman, S.C., jumped up delivered the first punch in a shutout of the supercharged fraternity during the first session of qualifying during the Sears Craftsman Nationals hosted by Gateway International Raceway In Madison, Ill. The recent Thunder Valley Nationals champion recorded a 6.345, 221.71 to secure the preliminary pole position.
Stott went into the first session hoping for a 6.28, but his current run will suffice.
"We actually had too much clutch for that run," explained Stott, who carries major sponsorship from LeeBoy Paving Equipment. "I'll settle for this run until the next session. We were lucky because we caught a valve before it dropped. It's refreshing to see the nitrous cars running good. The two supercharged heavy-hitters aren't here. As hot as it is, I wish they were here, then I could kick their butts."
Stott went on to say that 6.20s should be commonplace in the next session, scheduled for 7.
Another Gene Fulton-power 196 Corvette closely trailed Stott, as the recent Commerce titlist Ed Hoover had Paul Trussell's 1963 Corvette flying. Hoover, of Columbia, S.C., continued his warm weather prowess by laying claim to the second spot with a 6.355, 220.55.
Mitch Stott rounded out the triage of 1963 Corvette top qualifiers as he pushed his Radiac Abrasives-sponsored to the third quickest elapsed time of the first session. The Mill Spring, N.C.-based driver, and also the younger of the two Stott siblings, established serious clout be jumping into the mix with a 6.358, 223.17.
Rounding out the top half of the program was Steve Vick of Mocksville, N.C. Vick, who made the program in Commerce, stepped up with a 6.371, 222.29.
The balance of the field was comprised of Billy Harper (6.387, 217.53), Rickie Smith (6.426, 218.80), Carl Moyer (6.434, 218.69) and Dennis Radford (6.448, 217.70).
Non-qualifiers after the first session includes John Scialpi, Ronnie Hood, Dan Rowe, Glen Kerunsky, Randy Hagerty, Chip King, Al Billes, Thomas Patterson, John Bartunek and Ron Kammes.
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