GMC Sonoma Racer John Lingenfelter Returns To His Roots At IRP INDIANAPOLIS, August 28, 2001 - After a 10-week hiatus from professional competition, the Pro Stock Trucks return to action this weekend at Indianapolis Raceway Park for the 47th ...
GMC Sonoma Racer John Lingenfelter Returns To His Roots At IRP
INDIANAPOLIS, August 28, 2001 - After a 10-week hiatus from professional competition, the Pro Stock Trucks return to action this weekend at Indianapolis Raceway Park for the 47th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. For the competitors, it's the biggest race on the schedule, with the largest car count and the one trophy that everyone wants displayed on their mantle. Preparation for the "Big Go" is arduous, all the chambers are loaded, and nothing is held back in reserve with the racers bringing out the best of everything including engines, equipment and overall mental attitude.
For Summit Racing GMC Sonoma driver John Lingenfelter there is added incentive to do well at Indy. Just a hundred miles up the road northeast of the "Circle City," at the intersection of U.S. Highways 27 & 33 lies the bustling Hoosier village of Decatur, Ind. It is in this small town of 9000 residents that the 55-year-old engine builder has established his racing headquarters. It is also one of the reasons why Lingenfelter regards IRP as his hometrack, a venue that's treated him kindly over the years and where he's made many laps down the quarter mile in over three decades of competition at the U.S. Nationals.
As a Sportsman Racer, Lingenfelter drove a '69 Super Stock Chevy Camaro to the Indy winner's circle in 1972, the first of three victories at the legendary strip. He followed that up with wins in Competition Eliminator in '78 and then again eight years later in '86.
"Indy is a big race for us," said Lingenfelter. "Our shop is just three hours up the road and it would mean a lot to us to be able to do well this weekend. It's not going to be easy though. The Truck fields are going to be as tight as they've been all year and that Friday night qualifying session will be crucial.
"If you're a racer or a fan of the sport then you know that Indianapolis is a special place. "There's a lot of tradition and a lot of history that's been made on that dragstrip. Winning there is something I'll never forget. I just hope we can make that trip to the winner's circle again on Monday."
In '97 Lingenfelter was selected by General Motors to drive one of the new Chevy S-10s in the fledgling Pro Stock Truck series. In '98 he had his best year in the class, scoring a victory at Sonoma, Calif., and three runner-ups, finishing second in the points standings behind Larry Kopp. In '00 he joined the GMC Pro Stock Truck camp and ended the season in 10th place, one of two Sonoma pilots including Rick Jones to score a top-10 finish.
This season, with nine Pro Stock Truck races in the record book and with five left on the schedule, Lingenfelter enters the 47th U.S. Nationals 13th in the points standings. In preparation for this weekend's showdown, the Summit Racing Sonoma was on the track testing last week at IRP in search of a performance advantage.
"We were pretty satisfied with our test session," said Lingenfelter. "We were focussing mainly on the chassis, trying to get it to work better and it looks like we were successful. For the conditions we were under it looked good. We were on the racetrack in the middle of the day around two o'clock and ran a 7.52 at 179.80 mph. At the time we were five-hundredths quicker than the guys that were there. Later in the afternoon Jeff Naiser posted a 7.55, so there's potential to see some really good times from the trucks this weekend.
"We feel pretty good going into the race. The weather looks like it's going to be cool, and that would give everyone some really good numbers. But you never know. This sport is always full of surprises. We feel much better off racing this weekend than we did before the break. The big thing is the truck is working a lot better than it has been and that's got us feeling pretty good. We only have five more races as a professional class so we're going to try and make the best of it."