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NHRA: Nickens Ready for Second Pro Stock Truck Victory

8 May 1998

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. -- The Pro Stock Truck category is only two races into its 12-race inaugural season and a rivalry is already starting to develop.

David Nickens vs. Larry Kopp. John Jones vs. Bill 'Grumpy' Jenkins. Dodge vs. Chevrolet. The two former sportsman category competitors and their top crew chiefs are set to face off in opposing manufacturer trim to break a 1-1 tie at the 29th annual Mopar Parts Nationals, May 14-17 at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. The $1.6 million race is the eighth of 22 events in the $30 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

Nickens earned the inaugural Pro Stock Truck victory at his hometown track in Houston. Kopp and Jenkins combined to claim the Fram Nationals win at Atlanta, and produce national performance records for elapsed time and speed. While Kopp's G-Force Transmission Chevrolet is currently the quickest and fastest, Nickens says his Team Mopar Dakota isn't far behind.

"Larry and Bill have a real good combination going and I think they found it right away," Nickens said. "But at Atlanta I think the field caught up to them just a little bit. I think you'll see even more of their performance advantage chipped away at Englishtown. We're going to keep working on it and see if we can't run a little quicker."

While Nickens and Kopp haven't ran head-to-head yet, Nickens feels like it's just a matter of time before the two pull to the starting line against each other. He says it could happen at Englishtown.

"I couldn't think of a better race to get the opportunity to outrun the national record holder," Nickens said. "It would be nice at a race sponsored by Mopar, which is also my sponsor. We're after the championship and I know Larry is, too. I'm sure we'll get to race each other plenty of times this season."

While winning the inaugural Pro Stock Truck event in front of friends and family was very special for Nickens earning even more wins this season is the main objective.

"Hopefully we will be able to take the No. 1 qualifying spot and get us another win," said Nickens, the 1993 Competition Eliminator winner at Englishtown. "That's the plan. We've been doing quite a bit of testing since Atlanta, and I think we're ready."

* No distractions: With the bright lights of New York City looming in the distance, and a variety of activities going on near the Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, it can be real easy for a racer to get distracted. Nickens says in order to be successful at the New Jersey quarter-mile you have to leave the outside atmosphere exactly where it is -- on the outside.

"You have to be able to stay focused on racing," Nickens said. "I know that sounds weird, but Englishtown is really different from a lot of places we race because there's so much going on all around the race track. You can't let the area attractions affect your performance."

* Truck future: David Nickens sees only good things for the Pro Stock Trucks in the future. He says as long as the support from the manufacturers and sponsors is there like it has been from the start, the fans will be the winners in the long run. Nickens feels the competition in the category is going to be extremely intense.

"It's an exciting deal," Nickens said. "I think by the end of the season the Pro Stock Trucks are going to be just as competitive and popular as the Pro Stock cars. There's a lot of trucks being built right now and a lot of people are pumped up about the category. The brand awareness is what is going to take it to the top. Let's face it, Dodge fans want to see Chevy and Ford go down, and vice-versa. That's what makes racing interesting."