Dodge Boys in their first all-Mopar final
Reprinted from the March 4, 1994 issue of National DRAGSTER
NHRA FORD QUALITY CARE NATIONALS -- After he clinched his second straight NHRA Winston Pro Stock Championship last year, Warren Johnson explained his success by pointing to the higher degree of consistency that he had acquired with his two-car team approach. Two-car teams are nothing new to drag racing, but Johnson was the first to employ the philosophy of fielding two legitimate contenders to double the pace of building a database, as opposed to running a designated number-one car and a blocker.
When the Wayne County Dodge team announced over the winter that two-time Winston Champ Darrell Alderman would return to the camp to drive alongside Scott Geoffrion in 1994, it was obvious that their strategy would be similar to W.J.'s formula. Both drivers would run first-rate equipment, and neither driver would be a designated loser in head-to-head confrontations.
Just two races into the season, this new approach has resulted in an impressive team victory for the Dodge campaigners. After Johnson personally defeated Geoffrion and Alderman in the semi's and final, respectively, at the season-opening Winternationals, the Mopar drivers came back with a vengeance and dominated the Ford Quality Care Nationals in Phoenix. They knocked out Warren and his son, Kurt, in the semi's to set the stage for the first all-Chrysler Pro Stock final since the 1973 Springnationals. Geoffrion beat Alderman with a holeshot, 7.117 to 7.111.
Geoffrion, who has taken his share of hard knocks for a 1-10 final-round record since acquiring the Wayne County Dodge driver's role during Alderman's two-year absence, agreed. "When I came to the line for the final, I knew that I was up against the best driver in Pro Stock, along with [the late] Lee Shepherd, and that just brought out the best in me. Darrell's coming back didn't put any pressure on me, but it did make me meaner. And that's what I needed to beat Warren in the semi's."
Johnson also was not pleased with the staging encounter he had with Geoffrion in the semi's, though he cut the better light, .474 to .484. "I staged first and Scott sat there for about seven seconds. They gave me a red-light for the same thing at Denver [Mile-High Nationals] last year, and it cost me a run during the best qualifying session."
Said Geoffrion after the race, "I really don't remember doing anything different in staging for that run."
Not surprisingly, there was considerable adulation in the Dodge camp after their semifinal-round conquest of the Johnson Oldsmobiles. "I told Scott before the semi's that this was in effect a team final," said Alderman. "We might get a split, like at the Winternationals, but we could also have an all-Dodge final. After I got by Kurt, I told the television interviewer that my biggest wish was to have Scott beat Warren so that we could race together in the final."
Alderman graciously allowed Geoffrion to enjoy the fruits of victory during the winner's-circle ceremony by choosing to rest in the Wayne County pit area until the festivities were over. "I got my butt kicked in the final," he said, "because Scott did what he had to do. We're going to make things real interesting this year."
This was Geoffrion's second career victory; the first was at the 1993 Mid-South Nationals.