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DRAG RACING LEGEND SOX A PIONEER ONCE AGAIN JOLIET, Ill. -- After nearly four decades in the sport, one of drag racing's great pioneers is a pioneer once again. Ronnie Sox, who has amassed nearly 50 career wins while racing with just ...

DRAG RACING LEGEND SOX A PIONEER ONCE AGAIN

JOLIET, Ill. -- After nearly four decades in the sport, one of drag racing's great pioneers is a pioneer once again. Ronnie Sox, who has amassed nearly 50 career wins while racing with just about every sanctioning body associated with the sport, is helping to write the early chapters for drag racing's newest professional category eliminator, NHRA's Pro Stock Truck.

Sox, 59, from Graham, N.C., is the pilot of the Monte Bailey-owned, Bailey Trucking Dodge Dakota. He is also reunited with longtime partner Buddy Martin in the venture.

Sox, who has 15 NHRA victories to his credit, including nine in Pro Stock, will try to pick up his first Pro Stock Truck win at the inaugural FRAM Route 66 Nationals, May 28-31 at Route 66 Raceway. The $1.5-million race is the ninth of 22 events in the $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

Sox has driven just about every type of drag racing vehicle during his career. He says he really enjoys the trucks.

"The reason I like the trucks so much is that they have small block engines and the fans seem to really identify with them," Sox said. "I really like getting in there and working that lever. It's really my kind of racing.

        "I think the fans are always ready to see something new," Sox
added.  "That's why I like to be right in the middle of it." 

Sox realizes he is fortunate to be involved with the beginning of a new professional category. Just two years ago he was involved in a terrible crash at an IHRA event at U.S. 41 Dragway in Morocco, Ind. An oil line broke on his Pro Stock car, the machine lost traction and barrel-rolled 11 times. Sox suffered an injury to his left eye, a fractured sternum and broken ribs. He was out of racing for nearly a year and there was question if he would ever return.

But late last year Roy Hill asked Sox to drive one of his Ford Ranger trucks during NHRA Pro Stock Truck exhibition events. After a couple of laps in the truck, Sox was feeling like a racer once again.

"My eye started to get better and I started getting the itch to go racing again," Sox said. "I'm feeling great. Driving is the easiest thing I do."

Sox says he and his current team are working hard to get everything in order.

"We're running about 2-3 months late and are trying to get everything thrown together here really quick," Sox said. "We need to get more laps on the truck. Our testing has been limited and I probably have only 8-9 runs on the truck. We've got the right financial situation and are doing things first class. I think in the next couple of weeks we'll be right there."

After strong efforts at Atlanta and Englishtown, N.J., he says the team should have all the pieces in place by the time they get to Route 66 Raceway. The veteran driver enjoys breaking in new tracks.

"I've run match races all over the country and ran just about every track out there I think," Sox said. "I've ran at some good tracks and some tracks that were a little tricky. I think we'll be able to adapt to it. We'll put a little more bite in the truck. We'll handle it."

FRAM ROUTE 66 NATIONALS GENERAL INFORMATION

* Schedule: Pro qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. May 29. Qualifying continues at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. May 30. Final professional eliminations start at 11 a.m. May 31. Pro Stock Truck qualifying sessions will begin at noon and 3 p.m. May 28. Pro Stock Truck eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. May 30. Federal-Mogul competition starts at 10 a.m. May 28.

* Tickets: Tickets are available for the FRAM Route 66 Nationals. Call Route 66 Raceway, (815) 886-6600, or Ticketmaster for ticket information.

* On TV: TNN will televise two hours of highlights and final round coverage of the FRAM Route 66 Nationals on May 31, starting at 5 p.m. (CDT). There will also be one half hour of qualifying highlights on May 31, starting at 10 a.m. (CDT).

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Series NHRA