EATON EMERGING AS HEAVY HITTER IN PRO STOCK TRUCK ENNIS, Texas -- Despite a late start to the season, Craig Eaton has wasted little time becoming one of the heavy hitters in Pro Stock Truck. The former Competition Eliminator...
EATON EMERGING AS HEAVY HITTER IN PRO STOCK TRUCK
ENNIS, Texas -- Despite a late start to the season, Craig Eaton has wasted little time becoming one of the heavy hitters in Pro Stock Truck.
The former Competition Eliminator racer, who didn't make his debut until Englishtown, N.J.'s Mopar Parts Nationals, has become only the second multi-time winner in NHRA's newest professional category, earning victories at Seattle's Prolong Super Lubricants Northwest Nationals and the recent Parts America Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka.
Eaton, from Glendale, Ariz., is also one of two drivers in the category to score wins in something other than a Chevrolet. Eaton's ATSCO-sponsored Dodge Dakota has quickly earned the reputation as one of the quickest in the category. He sits in large company with the likes of powerful Chevrolet S-10 drivers Larry Kopp, John Lingenfelter and Jerry Haas.
Eaton, 33, will have his Dakota running in high gear once again searching for another victory at the 13th annual Revell Nationals presented by HiLo/O'Reilly Auto Parts, Oct. 22-25 at the state-of-the-art Texas Motorplex, the only all-concrete dragstrip in the world. The $1.7-million race is the 20th of 22 events in the $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.
Eaton, who started his drag racing career in Competition Elimination in 1994, had never earned a national event victory until Seattle. Now he's like a kid turned loose in a great big toy store.
"Winning is definitely contagious," Eaton said with a grin. "Once you get the fever, you try like heck to get it again. Seattle was wonderful, we couldn't believe it. At Topeka we had the most consistent weekend we've had all year. We asked it to run in the low seven-second range and it did that. Hopefully it'll be in the same mood at Dallas. We'd definitely like to get a win at the Motorplex."
While Eaton's Patterson Racing engine has been one of the factors in his success, he can't say enough about his top wrench-turner.
"Gary Pearman (crew chief) has done a great job setting up the truck and giving us a shot to win, and we're getting results," Eaton said. "We're very lucky to have a guy like Gary. We get our engines from Patterson Racing and they've given us the power to beat the Chevys. We've got a really nice combination right now."
Although Eaton never made it to the Winner's Circle in the sportsman ranks, he did get close on several occasions. Last year at the Revell Nationals he drove his way into the final four. He enjoys racing on the Motorplex's unique surface.
"Last year at Dallas in Comp I made it to the semis, and I've run well there in the past," Eaton said. "The biggest thing about the Motorplex is you have to stay in the groove. If you get out of the groove you're in trouble. Dallas has always treated me good, so I'm looking forward to it. It's a good track. Depending on what the weather is like, it can be really fast."
Like just about every other Pro Stock Truck driver, Eaton and his ATSCO team have had their struggles as well. An off weekend at the prestigious U.S. Nationals left the team on the outside. Heads didn't droop for too long, however, as the Parts America Nationals brought about the right remedy.
"That was a big boost for us, it couldn't have come at a better time," Eaton said. "When we went to Indy and didn't qualify, that was sort of a downer. But then we won Topeka, so that was a big lift for us. I think we can use the momentum we gained at Topeka for the rest of the season. I think we've proved that the Dodge trucks can run with the Chevys. I'm really confident about our program and where it's headed. I think we can stay right with 'em."