Larry Kopp Collects All the Points in Dallas; Wins His Fifth Pro Stock Truck Title; Extends His Points Lead DALLAS, Oct. 24, 1998 -- Larry Kopp, driving the Accurate Binding/Arma Coatings/G-Force Transmissions Chevy S-10, set a new ...
Larry Kopp Collects All the Points in Dallas; Wins His Fifth Pro Stock Truck Title; Extends His Points Lead
DALLAS, Oct. 24, 1998 -- Larry Kopp, driving the Accurate Binding/Arma Coatings/G-Force Transmissions Chevy S-10, set a new national elapsed time record, qualified No. 1, and won the 11th round of the 12-event inaugural season of the Pro Stock Truck class sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). This was his fifth title of the year, the eighth for a Chevy S-10. His dominance in this new Winston Drag Racing Series category for compact pickup trucks at the Revell Nationals at the Texas Motorplex this weekend put him in position to clinch the first Winston Championship for the class.
Kopp, who came into the event only 10 points ahead of No. 10 qualifier John Lingenfelter, in the Summit Racing Equipment Chevy S-10, left with a 116-point margin after Lingenfelter was eliminated in the first round by No. 7 qualifier Jerry Haas. Kopp needs only to enter and qualilfy at the final event, the Winston Finals in Pomona, Nov. 12-15, to clinch the championship.
The Final Four were all Chevy S-10s built by Jerry Haas Race Cars. Brad Jeter, whose national e.t. record set at the last event in Memphis was eclipsed by Kopp here, lost to Kopp in the semifinals. Bob Panella Jr., winner in Memphis, was defeated by Jerry Haas. In the final, held under the lights, it was Haas versus Kopp. Haas launched his Chevy Trucks S-10 off the line with a better reaction time, .494 to Kopp's .514, but that advantage didn't hold as Kopp's S-10 powered by a Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins 358 cu.in. Chevy V8 engine crossed the finish line first by a margin of .055 of a second (7.654/174.85 for Kopp, 7.729/173.24 for Haas).
"When we got back the computer said we did a perfect run," said Haas. "That's all there was, there was no more. When you run a 7.72 to a guy who runs a 7.65, you can't outrun him. You can't just keep making perfect runs, you have to have an ace in the hole to play with. "
Dominating this class since the start of the season, Kopp's points lead had been as high as 144, but a DNQ (did not qualify) in the second half of the season, and twice fouling out, nearly destroyed his chances of claiming his first professional crown.
"We came here with the same attitude we had all year. We are good, we are fast and we can win," said Kopp. "As long as I do my job we can win. And I haven't been doing my job for the last few races. This will redeem me. I'm not taking it lightly."
In the cool air in Friday's qualifying sessions, Kopp established the national elapsed time record with a 7.594-second pass in the first round, which he backed up in the third with a 7.618-second pass. This earned him 20 valuable bonus points, which helped extend his points lead.
The Pro Stock Truck drivers faced the challenge of a slippery race track following rainstorms that pounded the Dallas area earlier and the clutch dust put down by the Top Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars, which might have affected the outcome in this tight points battle.
"We put a new engine in that looked good on the dyno," said Lingenfelter after losing to Haas in the first round, "but with the combination of the track being bad and being in the bad left lane when the air was good, it kept us off balance. We couldn't decide whether the engine was that bad or we were screwed up with the track."
Although Kopp has virtually locked up the championship with 922 points, and Lingenfelter has a strong 118-point lead (806) in second over Haas, the battle for third place itightens up among Haas (688), Panella (654) and Jeter (650), as the Pro Stock Truck series comes to a close.