LAS VEGAS, NV – October 27, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Rickie Smith has accomplished a great deal during his incredible drag racing career and world championships are nothing new to him; but the veteran is on the cusp of something big in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
Smith is the current points leader in the talent-loaded class and should things go as planned at this weekend’s 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the longtime standout would win his third world championship in four years. Considering the level of competition in the class, that feat would mean something special for Smith, even with an already full list of career accomplishments.
“Every one you win is just great and to maybe win another one, it would be awesome,” said Smith, who currently leads Troy Coughlin by 93 points. “To have three NHRA championships in four years, that would probably be among the top for me. I couldn’t be happier with my career and my performance and I’m proud of what I’ve been able to do this year. It just couldn’t be better.”
This weekend’s race, which is presented by Aeromotive Inc. and will air on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) and FOX Sports 2 (FS2), is the final of 10 events in 2016 in the NHRA Pro Mod season. Khalid alBalooshi is the defending event winner.
Smith’s advantage over Coughlin in his nitrous-powered IDG Chevrolet Camaro makes him a considerable favorite to win the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series title. The King, N.C. native would like to repeat his 2014 performance when he won the race in Las Vegas and clinched the world championship in the process, but Smith knows what his first priority is this weekend.
“The championship is what I want,” said Smith, who has two victories in 2016. “I would love to win the race, but you have to look at the big picture and that’s to win the championship. We have to make the right calls for that, but anything can happen. There’s nothing guaranteed in a class like this, but you would hate to get this close and lose the championship. I really enjoy racing, but it’s a lot of stress this time of year.”
As his impressive resume shows, Smith has repeatedly handled that pressure in championship fashion. That’s been the case in 2016, even with a loaded field chasing him from the start. Smith began the year with a victory at the first event in Gainesville, Fla., and advanced to the final round at the first three races, also winning in Atlanta.
It’s made him the points leader for all nine races thus far, but having a target on his back hasn’t affected Smith’s performance. He advanced to the semifinals in Norwalk and the final round at the most recent event in St. Louis, continuing to rely on an experience level not many in the sport can match.
“I’ve always made my own calls and that has been one of my big advantages I think,” said Smith, who has 10 career NHRA Pro Mod wins. “I have a good feel for the car and I’m able adapt to that, and that’s helped me. The year before, I came out trying to do stuff the car couldn’t do. This year I came out like I normally do and ran the car the best I could. That was a big advantage to jump out like that and we didn’t falter those first few races. I’m proud of the year we’ve had and hopefully we can close it out.”
Featuring the world’s fastest and most unique doorslammer race cars, the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series offers something for every kind of hot-rodding enthusiast. The class is highlighted by historic muscle cars, like ’67 Mustangs, ’68 Firebirds and ’69 Camaros, as well as a variety of late model American muscle cars. With more than 3,000 horsepower, the suspended door pro mod cars travel the quarter-mile in less than six seconds at speeds exceeding 250 mph.
NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday, October 28 with qualifying sessions at 11 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., continuing with the final qualifying session on Saturday, October 29 at 1:30 p.m. Round one of eliminations is slated for Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-644-4444 or 702-644-4444. Tickets available online at www.lvms.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more info visit www.NHRA.com.
NHRA TOYOTA NATIONALS PRO MOD FACT SHEET
WHAT: 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals, the final of 10 events in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series. The race will also showcase the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
WHERE: The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas. Track is located approximately 15 miles north of Las Vegas off I-15.
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 2,100 feet above sea level; Track direction is south to north.
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 27-30
FRIDAY, Oct. 28 – NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
SATURDAY, Oct. 29 – NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 1:30 p.m. Round 1 of eliminations at 5:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, Nov. 1 – HRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES eliminations continue at 11 a.m.
Thursday, Oct. 17, FS2 will televise 30 minutes of coverage at 7:30 p.m. (ET).
PAST EVENT WINNERS: Khalid alBalooshi, 2015; Rickie Smith, 2014; Troy Coughlin, 2013, 2012; Leah Pruett, 2011; Brad Personett, 2010.
5.774 seconds by Don Walsh, Nov. ’15
259.66 mph by Walsh, Nov. ‘15
5.751 sec. by Jonathan Gray, March ’16, Gainesville, Fla.; 258.71 mph by Melanie Troxel, June. ’11, Englishtown, N.J.
TICKETS: For tickets call (800) 644-4444, or visit www.LVMS.com.
Glendora, CA — Point standings (top 10) following the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, the ninth of 10 events in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing –
1. Rickie Smith, 721; 2. Troy Coughlin, 628; 3. Bob Rahaim, 571; 4. Michael Biehle, 460; 5. Von Smith, 454; 6. Steve Matusek, 452; 7. Mike Castellana, 385; 8. Khalid alBalooshi, 382; 9. Bill Glidden, 380; 10. Danny Rowe, 373.
About National Hot Rod Association
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 23 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association