MORRISON, Colo.- Larry Morgan has a few less concerns these days and that should make the rest of the NHRA Pro Stock class take notice. A few details, perhaps? The last time Morgan finished in the POWERade Top 10 was 1997. After the first 11...
MORRISON, Colo.- Larry Morgan has a few less concerns these days and that should make the rest of the NHRA Pro Stock class take notice. A few details, perhaps?
The last time Morgan finished in the POWERade Top 10 was 1997. After the first 11 races of the 2004 season, Morgan is in fifth place. And he hasn't even won a race.
Until Englishtown Morgan was the team owner and driver who also dabbled with the tuning decisions. That was before he opted to wear one less hat - one very large hat - and hand the ownership duties over to Don Schumacher Racing. Worrying about bills and finding the best parts at the most affordable price are no longer part of his daily routine.
The last time Morgan won at Bandimere Speedway was in 1990. This time, however, there is more on the line and Morgan has plenty of motivation. Mopar sponsors the race and Morgan's team. He would like nothing more than to fill the winner's circle photos with his Team Mopar Dodge Stratus R/T team members.
And then there is that little thing about Greg Anderson. The defending POWERade Pro Stock champion has won 16 of the 23 races dating back to the 2003 Denver event. Anderson has stepped up the performance of the class and Morgan wants to play too.
All of that adds up to one thing: Morgan will be a force when the racing takes place at Bandimere Speedway. The annual Western Swing kicks off with the 25th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, July 16-18, at Bandimere Speedway. Larry Dixon, John Force, Warren Johnson and Blaine Hale are the defending winners of the $1.8 million race. It is the 13th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Morgan wants to be able to compete for the Pro Stock title at the Mile-High Nationals so badly that he is going to test at the track prior to race week.
"To be honest, if we won at Denver that would probably be one of the best race wins ever," Morgan said. "Not only is it our sponsor's race, but the Pro Stock cars aren't supposed to run in that air. It's a tough deal and it would be something special if we can run fast there.
"If you can conquer Denver, that really means something. We only race in that altitude once a year and it's not an easy atmosphere to compete in. You must have the right combination from the start of the event if you want to compete for the win."
Since joining forces with Don Schumacher, Morgan now has the time to think about the combination prior to the start of the event.
"Don is going to be able to help us achieve goals that financially, we couldn't do on our own," Morgan said. "It's good for us and it's good for him too. Everyone at the shop is real excited about it. I'm excited and proud of what we've been able to do (before joining Schumacher) and now the team is pumped up because we have this new partnership. I'm excited because it's one less thing I have to worry about."
Being fifth in the Pro Stock points is a vast improvement over his 11th place finish in 2003. But that hasn't done anything but make Morgan look up the points ladder.
"He (Anderson) motivates us. Some people complain about his performance, but I don't know why they would," Morgan said. "It doesn't bother me. It fuels our fire. He's doing a good job. Actually, he's doing a great job and that makes us work harder.
"I'm real proud of what we're doing and I know it's because we've all worked hard. I would like to see this team finish in the top three but that is going to be tough to do. There are so many competitive cars out there. If you can finish in the top three in Pro Stock, that is really saying something about your performance."