Pomona Rob Slavinski wants to be a 'force' in trucks

POMONA, Calif. - Don't let the uncanny resemblance fool you. The guy wearing the dark amber sunglasses, dressed in his vintage Castrol driving suit and topped with the signature Castrol Racing hat eagerly awaits the opportunity to...

POMONA, Calif. - Don't let the uncanny resemblance fool you. The guy wearing the dark amber sunglasses, dressed in his vintage Castrol driving suit and topped with the signature Castrol Racing hat eagerly awaits the opportunity to unleash his fury on one of the most competitive categories in the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series in the 2000 season. No, it's not John Force, nine-time NHRA Winston Funny Car champion, but rather, his often mis-identified, non-related twin, Rob Slavinski. Slavinski, a 39-year-old sportsman category dominator for the past 15 years, will try his hand in the professional ranks for the first time this season. Given his past record of national event victories in Comp, Super Comp and Super Gas categories, competitors in the Pro Stock Truck ranks might become quick to associate Slavinski with the popular Funny Car legend. Slavinski hopes to post a national event victory in his fourth different NHRA eliminator at the 40th annual AutoZone Winternationals, Feb. 3-6, at historic Pomona Raceway when he debuts his Castrol Super Clean Chevy S-10. The $1.7 million race is the first of 23 events in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series for 2000. Whenever Slavinski is approached for an autograph from a fan yelling 'Mr. Force, Mr. Force!', he quietly acknowledges the mistake and goes on about his business. During the last 15 years in NHRA sportsman competition, his business has included winning eight national events. He hopes to create his own larger than life personality in Pro Stock Truck competition. In order to do that he will adopt a time-tested policy from Force, a longtime personal friend: Win as often as you can and do everything possible to keep the fans entertained. "It's funny because some fans do come up to me thinking that I'm Force," Slavinski said with a laugh. "I really don't try to look like him, but people have told me we do sort of look alike. I guess it's the firesuit. We've both been with Castrol for a long time now and we make a lot of appearances together. He's really taught me a lot over the years. Now that I'm going to be in the Castrol Super Clean colors, I don't think too many people will get us mixed up." During the off-season, Slavinski has worked hard in preparation for his Pro Stock Truck debut, including shedding a few pounds off of his linebacker physique. "I've lost about 37 pounds over the winter," Salvinski said. "It was something that I wanted to do for myself. I belive that if a driver is in good physical condition, then the mind will be in excellent shape as well. In drag racing, focus is everything. Our races last for about 10 seconds, and you can't afford to make a mistake in that amount of time." Slavinski will be one driver in a two-truck team for the Lawrenceville, Ky.-based Kessinger Motorsports. Noted engine builder Steve Johns will drive the team's other truck. With major corporate funding, quality engines from Bill 'Grumpy' Jenkins and a talented crew led by crew chief Gerald Guadanolo, the team is definitely among pre-season favorites for the NHRA Winston championship. "I know some people are going to expect us to win a lot of races," Slavinski said. "We have all of the pieces of the puzzle in place and I would expect both myself and Steve to win at least two races minimum. But nothing is guaranteed. We're going to have to work hard. The competition is very tough in Pro Stock Truck, so you know going in that it's going to be a war."

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force