"The win was special for a number of reasons," said Jones. "We were originally involved with the Mopar factory team on the NHRA side, and I did a lot of development for them. We wanted to race something different, so we then decided to race a Dodge over here." The year 2002 was a time of learning, admits Jones, thankfully not without progress. "This event win was just a result of all the hard work leading up to it," he said.

Jones reported that while the event win at San Antonio was rewarding for Mopar fans, he expects much more to come. He had announced prior to the season the formation of a two-car IHRA Pro Stock team in conjunction with Canada's Larry and Wayne O'Brien. Both Jones and Larry will make their debuts driving twin Hemi-powered Dodge Stratus machines this spring.

"New cars aside, we are particularly excited about our new engine program, which will meld some new Hemi cylinder heads being developed by Larry O'Brien with Jon Kaase's motors," said Jones. "I think there is an endless amount of potential for that. The current Hemi heads we are using are really designed for 500 cid Pro Stock racing. With the new cylinder heads, I believe we will be very hard to deal with.

"We were excited about putting the Mopar brand back in the winners circle again and also putting the Hemi engine back on the map in IHRA's Pro Stock class," Jones added.

The team expects the new configuration Hemi engine to be entered into competition at the IHRA's Mopar Canadian Nationals at Grand Bend, Ontario, in late May.

Combo ChampHardcore Western Canadian drag racer Glen Person, from Regina, Saskatchewan, tuned up nicely for his '03 racing season when he won the Super Stock/Stock eliminator Combo race at "The Strip" at Las Vegas Speedway in late March. Person drove his G/SA '72 Duster to victory at the all-Mopar event, which was presented by Utah's Phil Painter, a Mopar dealership owner who has a history in the area. Person ran right on his dial no fewer than three times during the competition.

"We saw the Painter's event as a nice tune-up opportunity for the national event the following weekend," said Person, who has been racing his car since 1995. "We are running a new motor this year, and we needed some time with it."

Person's machine features a 340ci engine that was blueprinted by Don Little and machined by Ken Murray. Person went on to win the G/SA class runoff during the NHRA event the following weekend.

Quick WhitNitro Funny Car class star Whit Bazemore had his best finish yet driving a Dodge during NHRA's SummitRacing.com Nationals held in Las Vegas in April. Bazemore set the low e.t. for the event at 4.788 seconds, driving the spectacular new Matco Tools '03 Dodge Stratus, owned by Schumacher. Bazemore appeared primed for certain victory before suffering a stinging red-light foul start in the final round that cost the pre-race favorite potential victory. Bazemore had wheeled his Stratus to the second-fastest FC speed of the event at 324.44 mph during qualifying action.

"Originally, this was a Super Gas car with an iron-block 440," reveals Murphy. "We put a Hemi into it about four years ago, and it's been evolving ever since. We are limited to how fast we can run it, however-the chassis is tagged for 7.50s."

Murphy scored his biggest career win during the past '02 racing season when he prevailed in the popular Top Comp division during NHRA's Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event held at Race City Speedway in Calgary, Alberta, last August.

Events'03 Chrysler Classic Schedule Of EventsJune 21-22-Hamilton, OH:Third Tri-State Chrysler Classic at Tri-State Dragway. Car show, swap meet, nostalgia drag racing, A/FX match racers featuring Ronnie Sox, the Original Max Wedge Shootout, and Slant Six showdowns. Open to all Chrysler-related vehicles.