Charlie Westcott Jr. of Parma, Mich., powered to the No. 1 spot in qualifying on Thursday in his 1968 “Warfish” Plymouth Barracuda at the 12th Annual Mopar® HEMI® Challenge at the NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. Westcott Jr. banked the Mopar top qualifier $500 bonus with his second straight pole at the Indianapolis Mopar HEMI Challenge event, and will look to capture his second straight Indy win on Friday and fifth overall at the venue.
An impressive field of 23 Mopar-powered Super Stock A/HEMI (SS/AH) 1968 Dodge Darts and Plymouth Barracudas battled it out at Lucas Oil Raceway. Westcott Jr. paced the pack with an elapsed time of 8.386-seconds in his HEMI machine. Clocking in at No. 2 was Jim Daniels of Bristol, Pa., in his 1968 Dodge Dart with an 8.458 mark, followed by Charlie Westcott Sr. in the third spot in his ’68 Plymouth ‘Cuda with an 8.488. Taking the fourth spot was former Indy Mopar HEMI Challenge champ Rick Houser of Pasadena, Calif., with an 8.491 effort in his 1968 Plymouth Barracuda, and Wendell Howes of Rathesay, Neb., rounded out the top five with an 8.510, also in a 1968 Barracuda.
“I think people were surprised when I put that .38 on the board, but I wasn’t,” said Westcott Jr. “Yesterday I had a few subpar passes. We found some adjustments in the suspension and the car went down the track really nice today.”
The Westcott family is aiming for its fourth Indy HEMI Challenge win five years. Westcott Jr. claimed victory in 2008 and 2011, with his father earning the win in 2009. Last year featured an all-Westcott final, and the father-and-son duo would relish a repeat performance.
“He almost beat me last year, because he had a lot better light (reaction time) than I did,” said Westcott Jr. of his battle with his father in the 2011 Mopar HEMI Challenge final. “He’s beat me a few times, and I’ve beat him a few times. It’s all about who makes the best runs. If the ladder works that way, it would be cool. That’s obviously ideal, to get both of these cars in the final and win as much money as we can.”
The Mopar HEMI Challenge winner will earn an impressive $15,000 purse tomorrow, with $1,500 slotted for the runner-up and $500 each for the third and fourth-place finishers.
“It’s a great deal. Mopar supporting us is a great thing, and without them I wouldn’t have one of these HEMI cars,” said Westcott Jr. “They put the money up and make it worthwhile to come out and try to claim the prize.
The elimination rounds for the 12th Annual Mopar HEMI Challenge will take place Friday, with the final round scheduled between NHRA Funny Car and Top Fuel qualifying rounds. To keep up on all the Mopar HEMI Challenge action on Twitter, follow @OfficialMopar.