Englishtown: Matco Tools - Pro Stock pre-race notes

Pro Stock promises to produce pulsating racing action. ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 14) -- Always a huge favorite in the Northeast United States, the NHRA's Pro Stock class features the closest racing in all of motorsports. These naturally-aspirated...

Pro Stock promises to produce pulsating racing action.

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 14) -- Always a huge favorite in the Northeast United States, the NHRA's Pro Stock class features the closest racing in all of motorsports. These naturally-aspirated cars powered by 500-cubic-inch big block motors produce over 1,300 horsepower and the entire field of racers from top to bottom are rarely separated by more than three hundredths of a second.

As one might expect, Matco Tools -- the title sponsor of this weekend's 33rd annual Matco Tools SuperNationals presented by Racing Champions at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park -- has teamed with five of the top talents in the class -- Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk, George Marnell, V. Gaines, Darrell Alderman, and Gene Wilson -- all of whom have their eye on the title of the 33rd annual Matco Tools SuperNationals presented by Racing Champions.

"This is by far the most competitive class in drag racing," Pawuk said. "For people that aren't competing in the class, I don't think they have any concept of how tough this eliminator is every race. When you have a field separated by three hundredths of a second, everything has to play in your favor just to get in the show.

"I definitely feel that Pro Stock is one of the best forms of racing in motorsports. We have side-by-side racing at over 200 mph and it's rare for both cars not make it to the finish line within a heartbeat of one another. Hopefully, this will be a weekend where our Summit Racing/Matco Tools Pontiac really shines. Matco Tools means a lot to this program. I'd love to win their race for them here in Englishtown."

Pawuk nearly won twice here one year ago. After setting low elapsed time of the meet during qualifying, Pawuk raced to the finals of both the SuperNationals and the Pro Stock Challenge, a special event for the top eight qualifiers from the previous year. Certainly, this 44-year-old from Cleveland has what it takes to find glory at historic Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

Sporting full Matco Tools regalia at this event as he uses his sleek Grand Am as a full-sized model for a special-edition die-cast Matco Tools collectable, Las Vegan George Marnell is arguably the hottest driver in the Pro Stock class this season. The always-smiling 51-year-old opened his 2002 campaign with a win in Pomona, Calif., and led the POWERade championship points standings for three of the first four events of the year. Aside from the race itself, Marnell will search for Matco Tools glory this weekend in the prestigious Pro Stock Challenge.

"This is a great opportunity for us to show Matco Tools and the fans of New York and New Jersey what we're capable of," Marnell said. "We're very proud to have the Matco Tools car at a Matco Tools race and the fact we'll be participating in the Pro Stock Challenge gives us twice as many chances to bring home a win for the company and all of its supporters."

Three-time series champion Darrell Alderman, one of drag racing's true legends, returns to Englishtown looking for his fourth win here. Alderman, 52, claimed glory for Team Mopar and Matco Tools on consecutive seasons in 1990-'91 and again just five races ago in 1997. Like Marnell, Alderman already has visited the winner's circle this season, taking home the hardware from the Gainesville, Fla., event. The third winningest Pro Stock driver in NHRA history looks to add to his legacy this Sunday.

Alderman's Mopar Parts teammate Gene Wilson is still learning the nuances of his Hemi-powered Dodge Neon R/T. Wilson, the 2001 International Hot Rod Association Pro Stock champion, joined David Nickens' two-car operation just five races ago. The son of fishing great Orlando Wilson, Gene would love to prove his mettle at this event in front of one of his team's biggest backers. After winning eight of the 11 events on the IHRA schedule last season, the 29-year-old Atlanta resident has shown time and again he knows the quickest route down the quarter-mile.

"When you're trying to win races and championships you have to be able to rely on your team and your equipment at all times," said Nickens. "Without question, we know Matco Tools can handle the extreme workload we put them through and at the same time we know the people at Matco Tools are always behind us 100 percent to support us with our racing program. They always have been. Darrell, Gene, and everyone at Nickens Racing owe a big part of our success to Matco Tools."

V. Gaines may be soft-spoken off the race track but when he gets in the cockpit of his Western Motorsports/Matco Tools Chevrolet Cavalier he becomes an animal. A two-time winner on the NHRA tour, Gaines is a threat at every race. The 54-year-old trucking magnate from Denver has big plans to haul home the hardware from this weekend's event.

"It's time for us to win a race," Gaines said. "It would be great to do it here with all of the 1,400-plus independent Matco Tools franchise owners on hand to share in the celebration. It's impossible to predict the outcome of this race but I can tell you the action will keep everybody on the edge of their seats all weekend."


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Series NHRA
Drivers Darrell Alderman , Gene Wilson , George Marnell