Seattle Todd Patterson Preview

PATTERSON FEELS CONFIDENT THAT FIRST PRO STOCK TRUCK WIN IS NEAR KENT, Wash. -- When the news came that the Patterson family, one of the most successful NHRA Comp Eliminator teams of all time, would enter the world of NHRA Pro Stock Truck...

PATTERSON FEELS CONFIDENT THAT FIRST PRO STOCK TRUCK WIN IS NEAR KENT, Wash. -- When the news came that the Patterson family, one of the most successful NHRA Comp Eliminator teams of all time, would enter the world of NHRA Pro Stock Truck racing, many of the category's top prognosticators gave the team an instant stamp of approval. Those big expectations were met with success at the first race for the new category. At Houston's Pennzoil Nationals earlier this season, Todd Patterson drove the Team Mopar Dodge Dakota to a semi- final round appearance, where he lost to fellow Dodge competitor David Nickens, who went on to record the victory. Things were going just as planned for the Augusta, Kan.-based Patterson team. But then, over the course of the next three events, the team began to scramble, posting two second round losses and one first round exit. The search for consistency ended at the Sears Craftsman Nationals in Gateway International Raceway, where Patterson produced another semi-final round appearance. At Sonoma, Calif.'s Autolite Nationals, the team went one step further, posting a runner-up finish in their first final round appearance. Patterson hopes to take the next step and post his first victory in Pro Stock Truck competition at the 11th annual Prolong Super Lubricants Northwest Nationals presented by Al's Auto Supply, July 31- Aug. 2 at Seattle International Raceway. The $1.4 million race is the 14th of 22 events in the $30-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. With as much confidence as Patterson has in his driving ability and the team's engine building and setup skills, he thought he would be going into the Prolong Northwest Nationals with a trophy in hand. "It's been slower coming that we would have liked it," Patterson said. "We've always been recognized as a leader in small block engine development and made a good debut at Houston. But since then we struggled a little. My dad (Allan) has really worked hard at the shop, along with Nick Ferri, and tried a lot of parts and pieces. At St. Louis that work paid off. By eliminations we really picked up quite a bit. We showed it wasn't a fluke at Sears Point. We feel pretty confident about our program now." Patterson qualified 14th at Gateway, but then surprised No. 3 qualifier Nickens and No. 6 spot holder Grant Lewis in the first two rounds. However, he says his qualifying runs were a little misleading because he had two uncharacteristic bad laps behind the wheel. "I had made a couple of crooked runs during qualifying and felt like we still had the power, and as long as the driver did his job we could win," Patterson said. "During that first round I made a really straight run and the truck responded by running a 7.82 second elapsed time. It just all clicked. Now we know the potential is there. For a while we were getting a little frustrated. Now we know the truck is capable of winning rounds." Patterson is looking forward to getting to the state of Washington, where the air is clear and cool and the temperatures are generally mild. He says times and speeds for the trucks should be better than they've been since Houston. "Seattle's going to have the best air conditions we've seen in quite a while," Patterson said. "The air is going to be cooler and with the sea level altitude, there's going to be a tremendous opportunity to run some great numbers." Patterson expects an exciting race. "That track has always had great traction and one of the best starting lines on the circuit as far as I'm concerned," Patterson said. "Everybody is going to run quicker at Seattle. Especially after coming from the extreme altitude in Denver and the heat in Sonoma, Seattle will be a welcome relief. It's going to be a lot of fun." And just what does it take to earn an NHRA Pro Stock Truck victory? According to Patterson, a flawless package on race day. "It takes the total combination," Patterson said. "You've got to have the engine, driver and tuneup. Take away one of those ingredients and you're not going to be successful. Larry (Kopp) has been really good this season and he's made Grump (Bill Jenkins) look really good. There's no secret that Jenkins makes great horsepower. But without Larry's tuneup and his driving skills that engine doesn't mean a thing." While Chevrolet S-10 driver Kopp leads the Winston championship chase based on three victories, Patterson feels like Team Mopar is closing in fast. "We feel like we're within a few hundredths now," Patterson said. "We're going to keep pecking away at it. This year has really been a lot of trying different things. I think once everybody gets a firm handle on their programs it's going to be as competitive as Pro Stock. I think by Indy we're going to have over 30 trucks out here. Then it's going to be very difficult just to get in the show."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Todd Patterson