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Thu, 30 Nov 2000, 08:20 AM

Jerry Haas Announces New Drivers for 2001
Courtesy of Mickey Schultz

FENTON, Mo. -- Renowned chassis builder and NHRA Pro Stock Truck team owner Jerry Haas, of Fenton, Mo., announced today Matt Rhoades, 36, from Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and Charlie Greco, 50, from St. Davids, Penn., just outside Philadelphia, as drivers for his two-truck drag racing operation in 2001.

Throughout his racing career, Haas, who is currently retired from active driving, has acted as a mentor for aspiring driving talent. Notable names that have driven Haas-prepared Pro Stock cars and/or trucks in past seasons include Kurt Johnson, Mark Osborne, Brad Jeter, John Nobile, and Billy Huff. In 2000, Steven Farr handled the driving chores on Haas' Chevy S-10. Current plans call for Farr to return to college this year.

"I'm excited about having two experienced drivers of the caliber of Matt Rhoades and Charlie Greco on board for 2001," said Haas, who has received the prestigious Car Craft All-Star Drag Racing Team award as Pro Stock Chassis Builder of the Year 13-times. "Both should adapt to their Chevy S-10s with a minimum period of track time.

"From the outset, I would like to emphasize that Matt and Charlie will drive identically prepared trucks and that there will be no number one or number two truck, only equal team trucks. Even though it will mean more work, we feel that two trucks are better than one, especially when it comes to collecting and utilizing data gathered on the track. Both drivers should compliment each other."

Rhoades, who moves from the Federal-Mogul ranks in Super Gas to Pro Stock Truck, was born into a motorsports family. His dad drag raced and operated a dyno and speed shop in the San Bernardino (Calif.) area during Rhoades formative years. The younger Rhoades began his motorsports career by racing go-karts. That sprung into motocross, which he raced professionally for many years. He then moved to professional Jet Ski racing, retiring at an age when many are just beginning to establish their careers. He then tried circle track racing before finding a home in drag racing.

"I decided it was the right time to make the move from Federal-Mogul to professional drag racing," said Rhoades, reflecting on his move to Pro Stock Trucks. "I feel fortunate to be with Jerry Haas. From all accounts he is a true professional, both in his chassis building and in his racing operation. I can learn a lot from him. In addition to learning a new class and vehicle, we will be out there to win. I want to thank both Jerry Haas and Chevrolet for this opportunity."

Rhoades' teammate, Greco, took a slightly different road to Pro Stock Truck. He first built a food distribution business into a successful operation, subsequently selling to a larger corporation. He didn't start a serious racing career until his mid-30s, around 1985, when he began campaigning in Comp Eliminator.

His first career win came at the Keystone Nationals in Reading, Penn., in 1993. Greco's next national event victory came at the '97 Summernationals in Englishtown, N.J. That Summernationals win, coupled with several semi-final round appearances and a win at the Englishtown divisional points meet, vaulted Greco to a 15th place finish in the 1997 point standings in Comp Eliminator.

After sitting out the '98 and '99 seasons, Greco returned to racing last season, this time in Pro Stock Truck. Running as an independent, he competed in about 10 of the 15 nationals events at which Pro Stock Truck run. After a disappointing start to the 2000 season, the team turned their fortunes around near season's end, qualifying at Memphis, Tenn., and Pomona, Calif.

Joining Haas' operation in 2001 gives Greco an advantage he didn't have this past season. He says, "There's a couple of reasons for moving to Haas. The first reason is that Jerry (Haas) always puts out first class equipment. Period. End of case. His chassis work is without equal. Secondly, he always puts out a program where he has very good power. And, finally, along with the package, you get Jerry's, God knows, how many years of experience. I felt the experience end was where our program lacked last year. To raise the level of our program to where Jerry Haas can take us was a win-win for both."

After an intensive test session planned for January, the new two-team alliance will make its debut at the AutoZone Winternationals, February 1-4, 2001 at the Pomona Raceway in Pomona, Calif. Both Haas-built Chevrolet S-10 trucks plan to compete at all 15 Pro Stock Truck events on the 2001 NHRA Winston Drag Race Series schedule.

Associate sponsorship will be provided by Chevrolet and both trucks will be powered by Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins power plants. Haas, who pioneered the NHRA Pro Stock Truck program from its inception is proud of his long-standing association with Chevrolet.

"The support I have received from GM Racing has been phenomenal. Personal thanks go out to Fred Simmonds, Harry Turner, Alba Colon, Josh Peterson and Judy Stropus. Without Chevrolet my program would not have enjoyed the success that I have experience throughout my racing career. I look forward to a great 2001!" said Haas.

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