Part II: Richard Freeman Talks About Pro Stock Resurgence, Big Plans For 2020 NHRA Season
As far back as five years ago, Richard Freeman was telling everyone that Pro Stock would be just fine.
A few changes later and the Elite Motorsports team owner looks quite prophetic heading into the 2020 season, one that will celebrate Pro Stock’s 50th season in the NHRA.
The timing couldn’t be better, either. With a reduction to 18 races and the two major teams – KB Racing and Elite Motorsports – revamping their approach, the class appears on a major upswing.
Pro Stock fielded full fields at every race in 2019, seeing regular car counts in the range of 18-21 cars, and Freeman doesn’t see that slowing down anytime soon.
“I think you’ll see a lot of 20-car fields (in 2020), especially when I have seven cars there and KB has five or more,” Freeman said. “There’s a lot of talk for some other people starting and there’s a lot of people looking, and I think it’s going to be really good next year.”
It appears to be a swift turnaround, but Freeman doesn’t totally buy that notion. He believes the class was never in danger of going away and the online chatter didn’t represent what was truly going on in the class.
Behind the scenes, both KB and Elite worked hard to make their engine programs available for purchase, either by the race or for a full year. It has lowered costs dramatically, brought new participation and has the class in a good spot.
Throw in the 18-race schedule, which is in place for 2020 and will include a number of different venues compared to 2019, and Freeman believes Pro Stock is a class where it’s cost-affordable – at least in comparison to other classes – to compete for wins and a championship.
“Pro Stock, today, is in better shape than it’s been in many, many years because of what it costs to do it,” Freeman said. “Somebody can come in and race at Elite Motorsports, bring their helmet and spend between $750,000-$1 million and race 18 races and compete for a championship.
“In 12 races in Pro Mod, I spent more than that.”
It’s an intriguing and exciting comparison, and it’s already paid dividends for everyone in the class.
KB Racing continues to add drivers to their standout group of competitors, while Freeman’s program at Elite Motorsports continues to grow.
In addition to the likes of 2019 world champion Erica Enders, Jeg Coughlin Jr., who finished second, and Alex Laughlin, the U.S. Nationals winner, Aaron Stanfield will race full-time under the Elite banner in 2020, while Brandon Foster, who will be driving the Mustang Freeman brought out last year, and Marty Robertson will both be racing part-time next season.
Freeman believes Matt Hartford will be running Elite power in 2020 for the full season following his breakout campaign this year as well, giving the team a huge roster filled with proven talent and new faces.
“It’s badass. There’s nothing else you can say about it,” Freeman said. “Aaron has a chance to be very, very good, and it’s exciting to have Brandon and Marty as well. I think the way we do things attracts some people and the 18-race schedule fixed the whole deal.”
The good news doesn’t stop there. Melling Performance is back as a sponsor on Enders’ Camaro, while Freeman said the likes of Gallagher Insurance, Mark Stockseth and others are back as partners for next year as well, with all seeing the upswing in participation that Pro Stock is experiencing.
Coupled with the 50th anniversary celebration of the class in 2020 and Freeman sees nothing but good things for the future of Pro Stock.
“We have a great place for these sponsors and I couldn’t be happier with the group I’ve got,” Freeman said.