Houston Pro Stock Truck Preview

DEFENDING TRUCK CHAMP KOPP WANTS TO WIN ONE FOR CHEVY AT HOUSTON BAYTOWN, Texas -- NHRA Pro Stock Truck teams will officially celebrate their one year anniversary at Houston Raceway Park at the 12th annual O'Reilly Nationals presented by...

DEFENDING TRUCK CHAMP KOPP WANTS TO WIN ONE FOR CHEVY AT HOUSTON BAYTOWN, Texas -- NHRA Pro Stock Truck teams will officially celebrate their one year anniversary at Houston Raceway Park at the 12th annual O'Reilly Nationals presented by Pennzoil, April 8-11. My, how they've grown. A scant 15 trucks made the category's debut last March. The low elapsed time was a mere 7.63 seconds. The top speed was 174.82 mph. When the pickups hit the track for Thursday's first qualifying session (noon), more than 30 machines will be trying to gain a position in the 16-truck qualifying order. Speeds for the category are nearing 180 mph, and elapsed times have dipped into the low 7.50 range. Meanwhile, the category has established itself as one of the most exciting for doorhandle-to-doorhandle racing. The $1.7 million race is the third of 14 events for the Pro Stock Truck category in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. "Houston's going to be interesting," said Larry Kopp, defending Winston Pro Stock Truck champion and top qualifier at this event last year. "Last year a 7.64 won the pole and a 7.63 was the low elapsed time. Since then there's been a lot of technological improvements. With the right weather conditions we'll see some low 7.50s this year. The fans there are going to see trucks that are a lot faster, that's for sure. Our category has definitely matured a lot since the last time we visited Houston." There's also some new stars that have emerged since the first race. Namely former Pro Stock racer Mark Osborne, the current points leader and most recent winner. Brad Jeter, who finished third in the championship standings last year, has been a contender and record-setter all year long. Randy Daniels, runner-up here one year ago, won the season-opening AutoZone Winternationals at Pomona, Calif. "The competition has got a lot better over the last year," Kopp said. "Mark Osborne is a quality racer and there's a lot of new trucks out there. Plus, a lot of guys have improved over the year and have fine-tuned their programs. We definitely have our work cut out for us this year." The Pro Stock Truck record book was reconstructed at super-fast Gainesville Raceway in mid-March. Kopp, who drives the Speedco Chevrolet S-10, feels Houston could be even better. "It was simply unbelievable at Gainesville," Kopp said. "We ran a 7.57 and didn't qualify No. 1. That's hard to believe. It was really fast. We expect more of the same in Houston." Manufacturer bragging rights will be on the line at Houston as well. Chevrolet, Chrysler, Ford and GMC will field trucks battling for the victory. Kopp, who won five events in 1998 but remains winless this season, is looking to add a Chevy driver's name to the truck winner's list at Houston Raceway Park. If everything goes as planned, his own. "Team Mopar (David Nickens) got this one last year and we want to change that this time around," Kopp said. "That was a historic race for the trucks and a Dodge won. Chevrolets won the majority of the races and the championship last year, but Dodge won the first one. We've got a lot of Chevys running good right now, like Osborne, Brad Jeter, Lingenfelter and Tim Freeman. Plus, GMC has already debuted the new Sonoma, so there's more competition from another manufacturer. We want to get a win at Houston for Chevrolet. That's the plan."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Brad Jeter , Larry Kopp , Randy Daniels , Tim Freeman