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Dart drag car driver swap

by Bill Cawthon on

New Jersey engine builder Alan Prusiensky was behind the wheel of a new Pro Stock Dodge Dart when qualifying started Friday evening at the Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Illinois.

The debut was unauspicious: in his first pass, he had troubles at the start and had to push in the clutch. In his second attempt, the car had troubles before the start and Prusiensky failed to make the field, coming in dead last in the order. Since there are 17 entries and just 16 spots for Sunday’s eliminations, Prusiensky hopes for better luck on Saturday.

NHRA-Drag-Racing-Web

This is Prusiensky’s second year in Pro Stock. During the 2015 season, he ran the Dodge Avenger previously driven by Matt Hartford. He made to the quarterfinals at the Summernationals in Englishtown, and to the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals in Norwalk.

Jerry Haas built the 2016 Dart, but Prusiensky built his own engine. Not surprisingly, Prusiensky’s Dodge is sponsored by Arc Race Engines.

As Pro Stock welcomed a new Dart, it had to say goodbye to another. Vieri Gaines and the Kendall Dodge Dart weren’t in the running this weekend. After struggling the past two seasons, Gaines, who turned 69 last month, announced his immediate retirement from the sport. In a Facebook post, Gaines said the sole reason for his retirement was that “the fun has left this chapter in life.”

Gaines qualified for his first Pro Stock event in 1997 and picked up four Wallys over his 20-year career, the last coming  in 2012. He qualified for the Countdown to the Championship in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Allen Johnson was the top Dodge qualifier in Pro Stock: he’s sixth in the order. Erica Enders qualified seventh, while Jeg Coughlin qualified ninth in the order.

In Funny Car, Ron Capps set a track ET record and claimed the top spot for the first two rounds of qualifying. Matt Hagan finished Friday at fourth in the order while Tommy Johnson Jr. and Jack Beckman took the seventh and ninth spots, respectively. John Hale and Justin Schriefer failed to qualify and will have to try again on Saturday.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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