LAS VEGAS - Some of the most successful NHRA Federal-Mogul Drag Racing Series competitors have embraced the concept of winning in the three-year-old Pro Stock Truck category. Longtime Comp Eliminator standouts Larry Kopp and Bob Panella claimed...
LAS VEGAS - Some of the most successful NHRA Federal-Mogul Drag Racing Series competitors have embraced the concept of winning in the three-year-old Pro Stock Truck category.
Longtime Comp Eliminator standouts Larry Kopp and Bob Panella claimed the first two Winston championships in the category in their pickups. The two drivers are tied for most career truck victories, with five each. Another driver built along the same mold as Kopp and Panella is ready to take a piece of the action as well.
And what better place to do it than a town built for winners -- Las Vegas? Greg Stanfield, a four-time NHRA Super Stock champion, will roll the dice in an attempt to get his first Pro Stock Truck victory at the inaugural NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals, April 6-9, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
With a victory at the $1.8 million race, the third of 14 events for Pro Stock Trucks in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series, Stanfield could move even closer to adding a Winston Pro Stock Truck championship to his resume.
Stanfield, 34, currently leads the Winston point standings after posting back-to-back runner-up finishes at events in Pomona, Calif. and Gainesville, Fla.
The Bossier City, La. racer expects his persistence to pay off soon. "We're really pleased so far," said Stanfield, driver of the DBP Enterprises Chevy S-10. "Our team is working well together. But we're not looking at the points right now. We want to win some races and stay consistently at the top at each race."
Stanfield claimed NHRA Super Stock championships in 1990, '92, '93 and '94. He says the same patient approach applies to racing for a championship in a professional category.
"I've won a few championships and from my experience you just can't focus on the points situation," said Stanfield, a seven-time NHRA national event winner. "If you do, it'll drive you nuts."
Another thing that can keep a driver on edge is the competition. There's plenty of it in Pro Stock Truck. Stanfield says in order to win the championship a driver will need to knock off the guy at the top. He expects defending series champ Panella to give everything he's got to defend his championship.
"He's a great competitor," said Stanfield, who worked with Panella's team on engine development during the 1998 season. "That team is going to do whatever it takes to win. We're going to do the same thing. But we're not the only ones in this deal. There are some great teams out here. Randy Daniels and Steve Johns have really good teams behind them as well. It's going to be a tough fight for the championship. There's a lot more competition in the category this year, so we can look forward to some really tight racing as the season goes on."
And that's just the kind of environment that Stanfield prefers. Last season he entered only six truck events and managed to post a semifinal effort at the U.S. Nationals and finish 16th in the final points tally. Fellow competitors feared his outcome given a full season. So far, he's proving the prognosticators right.
"My philosophy has always been to work hard to prepare the truck and constantly work on improving my driving," Stanfield said. "Sooner or later it will pay off. You have to be consistent to win the championship. That's what we're trying to do this season. "