Racers prepare for annual Pro Stock Super Bowl

HOUSTON (Jan. 23) --One of the most anticipated drag races of the year is set to kick off the 50th anniversary season of NHRA Championship Drag Racing. The Eighth Annual Pontiac Excitement Pro Stock Super Bowl at Houston Raceway Park, scheduled...

HOUSTON (Jan. 23) --One of the most anticipated drag races of the year is set to kick off the 50th anniversary season of NHRA Championship Drag Racing. The Eighth Annual Pontiac Excitement Pro Stock Super Bowl at Houston Raceway Park, scheduled for Saturday, is the annual preseason starting point for all three of the sport's Pro Stock categories.

The event is traditionally held on the last weekend of the off-season and, with no championship points on the line, is always a showcase of raw horsepower and a no-holds-barred go-for-it attitude among the participating drivers. It's a time for all Pro Stock, Pro Stock Truck, and Pro Stock Motorcycle competitors to show the rest of the world what they'll have to contend with during the regular season.

The list of competitors for this year's event is impressive. Former Winston champions Darrell Alderman, Jim Yates, Matt Hines, and Larry Kopp headline the show but can expect stiff competition from a huge array of talented drivers.

In Pro Stock, Mark "Cowboy" Pawuk, Richie "The Kid" Stevens, former Houston winners Tom Martino and "Tricky" Rickie Smith, Ron Krisher, Bruce Allen, Mike Edwards, Steve Schmidt, new Dodge Boy Mark Osborne, and Ford's Robert Patrick top the list of contenders.

Truckers vying for recognition include John Lingenfelter, Scott Perin, Joe Pigford, Roy Hill, Taylor Lastor, Don Smith, Vinny Barone, Jose Maldonado, Todd Patterson, and Team Haas newcomers Matt Rhoades and Charlie Greco.

Likewise, upstart bikers Antron Brown, Tony Mullen, Greg Underdahl, Blaine Hale, and Chris Reuter will contest the two-wheel Super Bowl crown.

This is a special year for the Pro Stock Super Bowl, as updated NHRA rules call for new body styles in the 200-mph Pro Stock class. Pontiac Firebirds and Trans Ams, Chevrolet Camaros, Dodge Avengers, and Ford Probes are all being phased out in favor of the sleeker and quicker Pontiac Grand Ams, Chevrolet Cavaliers, Dodge Neons, and Lincoln-Mercury Cougars. In fact, the Eighth Annual Pontiac Excitement Pro Stock Super Bowl will provide drag racing fans with their first glimpse of many of the new designs.

In addition to the NHRA stars, several of the International Hot Rod Association's (IHRA) top drivers will also be competing in two professional categories, IHRA Pro Stock and IHRA Pro Modified. There will also be three classes of sportsman racing, battling heads-up on a Pro Tree. Fans will see the dragster-dominated Super Comp class racing on an 8.90-second index, Super Gas Roadsters and Door Slammers racing on a 9.90-second index, and the 10.90-second Super Street Class.

As always, every ticket is a pit pass so fans are encouraged to see these impressive machines up close and chat with their favorite drivers. Gates open at 8 a.m. with time trails beginning at 9 a.m. Pro qualifying sessions take place at 10 a.m. and noon with all Professional eliminations starting at 2 p.m. Tickets are available for $18 at (281) 383-2666 or online at www.houstonraceway.com.

-Robert Geiger

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Matt Hines , Robert Patrick , Darrell Alderman , Ron Krisher , Todd Patterson , Joe Pigford , Matt Rhoades , Blaine Hale , John Lingenfelter , Bruce Allen , Tom Martino , Greg Underdahl , Chris Reuter , Steve Schmidt , Rickie Smith , Mike Edwards