COMMERCE, Ga. - For now at least, Randy Daniels is the only Pro Stock Truck driver who has ever ventured into the zone. The 180-mph zone. And he did it at speedy Houston Raceway Park, a track with a reputation for bringing out the best in drag...
COMMERCE, Ga. - For now at least, Randy Daniels is the only Pro Stock Truck driver who has ever ventured into the zone.
The 180-mph zone.
And he did it at speedy Houston Raceway Park, a track with a reputation for bringing out the best in drag racing vehicles, whether it is a car or a truck, and again just recently at Virginia Motorsports Park.
His breakthrough speed of 180.02 mph is the latest milestone run in the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series, and perhaps one of only a few remaining performance breakthroughs for the 900 horsepower pickups. He bettered that mark with a national record run of 180.16 last weekend in Virginia.
By driving his Bailey Trucking Chevy S-10 to the top speed, Daniels joins an exclusive list of milestone performance setters.
Kenny Bernstein was the first Top Fuel driver to record a speed of 300 mph in 1992. Eddie Hill was the first driver to post a run quicker than 5 seconds in Top Fuel. Warren Johnson holds the distinction of being the first Pro Stock driver to break the 200 mph barrier. Just last year Larry Dixon became the first Top Fuel driver to record a run quicker than 4.5 seconds, while just races earlier Tony Schumacher became the first in his category to exceed 330 mph in a quarter-mile. Bob Panella recorded the first Pro Stock Truck run quicker than 7.5 seconds at the '99 season-ending event in Pomona, Calif.
No matter what accomplishments Daniels earns for the rest of his career, he will always be remembered as the first driver to exceed 180 mph in a Pro Stock Truck.
"We're really happy to be the first one to do it," said Daniels, 31, from Grantsboro, N.C. "Someone could come out and run 181 at the next race, but we will still be the first one. It could be the last milestone for the Pro Stock Truck category."
Despite Daniels' prediction, Pro Stock Truck teams will continue their quest to go quicker and faster, continuing to search for the first 7.30-second run and the first 190-mph blast.
That quest will continue for over 30 Pro Stock Truck competitors, Daniels included, at the 20th annual Advance Auto Parts NHRA Southern Nationals, May 4-7, at Atlanta Dragway. The $1.8 million race is the seventh of 23 events in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.
While setting national records and achieving milestone performances makes for good fun, Daniels admits that there is nothing better than winning races. Daniels has earned two victories this season, at Gainesville, Fla. and Houston. At Las Vegas, he posted a runner-up finish to Bob Panella, the current points leader and also a two-time winner this season. When it comes to a horsepower race, Daniels knows he can compete with the defending series champion. He just needs to figure out how to do it consistently.
"We know we've got good power, but we're not running the back-half of the track quicker than Panella is," Daniels said. "We'll think about it and see if we can fix that."
If he can continue to stay on pace with Panella, he knows he'll be a contender for the 2000 Pro Stock Truck championship. In fact, if he could erase an early-season DNQ (did not qualify) at Pomona, Calif.'s season-opener, the points separation between he and Panella would be smaller than 48.
He realizes that he can't change the past, so he'll just focus on what he can change - the future. He wants to win more events.
"We're not counting points, we're just trying to win," said Daniels. "If you win races, the points will take care of themselves."