NHRA: Kopp Emerges as Pro Stock Truck Contender
10 April 1998COMMERCE, Ga. -- Larry Kopp's Chevrolet S-10 wasn't the favored Pro Stock Truck when he pulled to the starting line for the second qualifying session at the inaugural event for NHRA's newest pro category. Most looked to his fellow Chevy teammates John Lingenfelter and Jerry Haas as the drivers to beat.
One exhilarating 7.64 second pass later, all eyes in the pits were centered around Kopp's ride.
As the pickups prepare for their second of 12 events in the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series, Kopp, from Baltimore, will be the pre-race favorite.
Kopp, using horsepower from legendary small-block engine tuning wizard Bill 'Grumpy' Jenkins, went on to establish the low elapsed time for the event at 7.63 seconds, a run which stood as the NHRA national E.T. record. He also set the truck speed record at 174.82 mph.
By the end of the weekend at Houston, Kopp held nearly a hundredth-of-a-second advantage over the field, even though he didn't win the race. He ended up red-lighting away a sure victory in the semi- finals.
As he prepared his machine for Atlanta Dragway's 18th annual Fram Nationals, April 16-19, he expects the rest of the field to catch up.
"I'm sure all the guys did their homework," says Kopp, former NHRA Comp Eliminator competitor. "I think it's going to even out at this event, especially with the support that Mopar is giving the Dodges. The Fords are going to be better too, now that Bob Glidden is getting involved with Roy Hill's engine program. It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm just glad to be a part of this new and exciting category."
Kopp doesn't expect to see times and speeds at Atlanta like Houston produced.
"The conditions at Houston were excellent for going fast," Kopp said. "We won't be able to run nearly as fast as we did at Houston. If we can run high 60s or low 70s, we'll be happy. The main thing is to win the race. At Houston we slipped up, and those things are going to happen. We learned a lot from that race, especially about the clutch setup. I think we've made some gains with the engine, too. I think it'll run a lot crisper at Atlanta. I've won a couple of national events in Comp Eliminator at Atlanta, so I'm looking forward to the race."
Inaugural race winner David Nickens, who drives the Team Mopar Dodge Dakota, holds a 19 point lead over Kopp in the Winston standings. Other Pro Stock Truck contenders include Brad Jeter, Roy Hill, Randy Daniels and Todd Patterson.