Richard Maskin joins Justin Humphreys

Pro Stock Rookie Justin Humphreys, Veteran Engine Builder Richard Maskin Pair Up for NHRA Championship Run in Knoll-Gas Energy Pontiac GTO When opportunity knocked, Justin Humphreys was quick to answer. Because he did, the rookie driver from ...

Pro Stock Rookie Justin Humphreys, Veteran Engine Builder Richard Maskin Pair Up for NHRA Championship Run in Knoll-Gas Energy Pontiac GTO

When opportunity knocked, Justin Humphreys was quick to answer. Because he did, the rookie driver from Maryland and Richard Maskin, one of drag racing's renowned Pro Stock engine builders, have teamed up to make a run at the series championship.

Humphreys, a Sport Compact and NOPI champion, is excited to be associated with the veteran Maskin, who powered Jim Yates (1996-97) and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (2000) to series titles. "I've always loved Pro Stock, but an opportunity like this just wasn't there before," Humphreys said. "And when it finally came, I figured I'd better do it while I can."

Humphreys' Pontiac GTO will be sponsored by Evan Knoll's Knoll-Gas Energy. Eric Luzinski is the crew chief.

"Pro Stock is tough, but we expected it to be," said Humphreys, "and it is a lot of fun. You definitely get to race in front of a lot more people in the NHRA POWERade Series. It is a different world, but I'm loving every minute of it."

His best of four 2007 events came at Gainesville, Fla., where he ran a career best of 6.634 seconds at 208.71 mph and qualified 16th. He lost to Greg Anderson in the opening round. He missed the cut at Houston by three-thousandths of a second.

Humphreys, who turns 30 on May 26, has his priorities in order. "We'll take things step by step," he commented. "Our goal at the beginning of the year was just to qualify. If we qualify, our next goal is to go rounds."

Maskin, meanwhile, was headed toward retirement until Humphreys came along. "Justin and his parents have a lot of passion for the sport," said Maskin, who ended an agreement with driver Tom Martin last weekend at Houston. "I was going to retire, because I have plenty of others things I could do, but I'm going to give this a try. I think Justin can drive a race car. Based on what he did in Sport Compact, he obviously knows the way to the winner's circle. "

Humphreys captured the 2005 Sport Compact Modified title and added the NOPI Pro Rear Wheel Drive championship the same year. He was third in last year's Sport Compact Modified competition. He won four times in Sport Compact in six final rounds.

"The team will be testing in Tucson (Ariz.) early next week," added Maskin, who has been involved in Pro Stock racing since 1972 and owns DART Machinery, manufacturer of aftermarket cylinder heads and engine blocks.

"They'll make a few runs to make sure everything is working so Justin will be confident when he gets to Las Vegas. We have a good group here and it looked like a good opportunity for me.

"I enjoy providing the engine program to a team more than owning the team," he continued. "I've won 65 races combined in Pro Stock and Pro Stock Truck over the years . . . and I don't think I've forgotten how to do it."

"I want to thank (engine builder) Steve Schmidt for helping us get our foot in the door (of NHRA Pro Stock racing)," Humphreys said. "He did a lot for us . . . got us going. But when we had the chance to become involved with Maskin's engine program, we decided to move on. I have plenty of faith in Maskin and my crew. I think we can be really good."

They won't have to wait long to get back into action. Qualifying for the SummitRacing.com Nationals begins Friday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Maskin's Father Passes Away

George Maskin, 90, Richard's father, passed away Friday night in Detroit. " He had a good life," his son said. "He was a sportswriter and was the public relations director for the Detroit Pistons for 15 years."

-credit: jh

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Greg Anderson , Steve Schmidt , Justin Humphreys