NHRA: Larry Kopp Clinches Inaugural Pro Stock Truck Championship
15 November 1998LARRY KOPP, ACCURATE-BINDING/ARMA COATINGS/G-FORCE TRANSMISSIONS CHEVY S-10, clinched the inaugural Pro Stock Truck Championship by qualifying No. 5 today, 7.653/175.91. JOHN LINGENFELTER, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVY S-10, second in points, captured the No. 1 position with a track record e.t. of 7.617 seconds and a national and track record of 178.28 mph. JERRY HAAS, CHEVY TRUCKS S-10, third in points, did not qualify. He was the ninth quickest, but NHRA's 4-4-4 qualifying rule eliminated him. KOPP: "It's just a dream come true. I won my first championship back in 1976 as a sportsman and now to win a professional championship is almost too amazing for words. It was our goal right frm the beginning. It's just not a reality until you get this close and you have to do what you have to do to qualify. It's just a hard deal." HAS IT SUNK IN? "Yes, it has. I kind of knew all along as soon as we got to the race and qualified that it was over, but I didn't want to tell myself I was champion or be too happy. I learned this past year I can go from hero to zero in five seconds. We stayed hero and I'm so happy. I can't thank Chevrolet enough, Stevie Johns, all my sponsors, Terry Adams, Accurate-Binding, my wife Susan, Rick and Tom Roth, my partners in Accurate Binding, they're unbelievable partners. They stuck with me through thick and thin."
"It's just something that we had the points lead from the second race all the way through the final. It's amazing that we have dominated that way. If we hadn't fouled up four races, where we really messed up, we would have clinched the championship before the two last races were over. Sometimes you get focused on what's going on and lose track of what's really happening, don't see the forest for the trees."
LINGENFELTER: ON BEING NO. 1: "We're tickled about that. I'm really disappointed that Jerry (Haas) didn't qualify. To come this far and not qualify for the last race is very disappointing." EVERYTHING SEEMED TO COME TOGETHER THIS WEEKEND FOR YOU: "It's coming, we are still in there; at least we are closer than we have been the last two or three months. We are still not making as consistent runs as we need to make. At least we got the engine problems sorted out -- one race too late. We ran good e.t.s, but we didn't really make good runs. We left something to be desired and we are having trouble getting down the right-hand lane, it's just loose." DID YOU THINK YOU'D SET THE SPEED RECORD?: "After the first run we thought we could, because we didn't make a very good run even. We felt fairly confident on that part of it."
HAAS: "We got good power, we made a bad run. We made some changes and when I let the clutch out it bogged. It blew the tires off in first gear. I got it in second at the right time, but it yanked my hand and caused me to lay up in third. We have good power in the brand-new (Rehr-Morrison splayed-valve) motor. This was the second pass with it (Friday's final qualifying). It's unfortunate the way the qualifying format is and the way things turned out, because it's actually a very fast Chevy S-10. We're ninth fastest in the field, and didn't qualify." ON LOSING THE TOP SEPEED RECORD TO LINGENFELTER: "John picked it up and if we had a few more rounds with this engine I think we could run that speed too. It's very capable of doing it." ON THE NEW MOTOR: "We put the new motor in for the first session today (Friday). In that session we started off 13th and ended up No. 2 in the session in e.t. and speed. We made some changes to pick it up and we started off 21st and with all the stuff going wrong we ended up third in speed and eighth in e.t. in that last session. The motor we had just wasn't performing. We got this motor from Rehr-Morrison and we are very happy with it. We named the motor 'buddy.' Rehr-Morrison wanted us to run the engine because it hadn't been run before. We were not competitive with the other one so we decided to try it. We had tested it for a customer, Ray Balzer from Ohio. We're building a truck for him and he had this engine he wanted us to run for him. We decided to do it because we didn't have anything else to race. I think the other (Lingenfelter) engine was just getting tired. We ran it all year long and it just wore out."
Note: Chevy S-10s cover the top eight in the field.