Johnny Pluchino has been a busy man in the PDRA this year. Between his Pro Outlaw 632 title defense and new driving duties behind the wheel of the Strutmasters Mustang in Extreme Pro Stock, he’s had a lot to do. Rolling into the PDRA Fall Nationals, Pluchino is ready to pick up his first career win in the Extreme Pro Stock category.
Before the 2019 season began Pluchino knew he would be pulling some light double-duty at some point. His main focus was to go back0-to-back as a champion of the Pro Outlaw 632 class while his father, John, continued to race the Extreme Pro Stock car in the PDRA. Little did Pluchino know he would get his crack at the Extreme Pro Stock car much earlier in the season than he anticipated.
“My dad started the year in the Extreme Pro Stock car, but at the North-South Shootout before the first qualifier, he said it was my time to get behind the wheel. I was about as shocked as I could be since I wasn’t supposed to race the PDRA events. He wanted me to get in the car to get some seat time since we were going to be racing some NHRA events. Doing this while racing Pro Outlaw 632 also has been an awesome experience but at the same time it’s difficult,” Pluchino says.
As a racer, you don’t just move into the Extreme Pro Stock class seamlessly and experience success right away. There are many differences between an Extreme Pro Stock car and your typical fast doorslammer; Pluchino has plenty of experience pulling gears in his Pro Outlaw 632 car, however, the Pro Stock Mustang needed some adjustments to fit him correctly as a driver.
“The Extreme Pro Stock car shifts differently, you have to account for my weight difference as a driver, and it takes a lot to get used to driving one of these cars. We’ve had to make some minor adjustments to the car for me as a driver. In Extreme Pro Stock you have to be on your game and it’s been a slight learning curve but I feel comfortable now,” Pluchino explains.
So far, the adjustments the team has made to the car have paid off. His on-track performances have been improving and he even made it to the final round of the Mountain Motor Pro Stock exhibition at the NHRA race in Epping, New Hampshire. As Pluchino and his team hit their stride they have a plan to be successful at Darlington during the Fall Nationals.
“I think we have a fast racecar, but we’re going to need to be consistent to win. As a driver, I’m going to have to be on my game as far as taking care of business in the car. We’re going to try some different things like changing the gear ratio to help the car and do as much testing as we can before the event. The difference between winning and losing in Pro Stock is just a few thousandths of a second so we need to be as ready as possible,” Pluchino says.
Pluchino and his team have received plenty of support from Strutmasters to keep the Mustang competitive in Extreme Pro Stock this year. That support is very much appreciated by Pluchino along with what his father has done for him.
“I appreciate the opportunity my dad has given me by stepping out of the car and letting me jump in. He’s done so much to assist me in chasing my dreams as a driver and I can’t thank him enough for that. His support is so critical when it comes to this racing operation,” Pluchino says.
You can see Johnny Pluchino try to pick up his first Extreme Pro Stock win of the season at the PDRA Fall Nationals RIGHT HERE on SpeedVideo.com. The action coming to you from Darlington Dragway October 4-5 is brought to you by presenting sponsor Titan Fuel Tanks along with Vortech Superchargers, Crane Cams, TCI Automotive, SpeedWire Systems, Flying A Motorsports, Jerry Bickel Race Cars, American Racing Headers, Nitrous Outlet, Driven Racing Oil, and Race Star Wheels.