It grated on Pro Stock Motorcycle racer L.E. Tonglet that, in his words, he “rode terrible in the final round” last weekend at Chicago against winner Matt Smith.

He knew he could do better and promised his team he would make up for that.

And he did Sunday, winning the Virginia NHRA Nationals with a 6.841-second pass at 196.76 mph over Andrew Hines’ 6.848, 196.22 on the quarter-mile at North Dinwiddie, Va., just south of Richmond.

“This just shows that least season wasn’t a fluke. We’re here to win every race we go to,” the Nitro Fish Suzuki rider said. “We had a bad Countdown run last year, and we’re going to do a lot better than that in the Countdown this year. We’ve got five or six fast motors, and we’re swapping them and getting data on all of them so that the last six races we’re not going to have a hiccup like we did last year.”

Tonglet joined Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Courtney Force (Funny Car), and Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) in the winners circle Sunday.

“The bike’s just flying, and it’s fun to ride right now.”

Team owner and fellow rider Jerry Savoie said earlier in the weekend that he didn’t think his operation was making the same kind of horsepower as the Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson team or the Aranas’ Lucas Oil Buell team or Smith’s Victory bike. He said those racers can make small mistakes and that wouldn’t hurt their overall execution but that his White Alligator Racing team had to have perfection in all phases of performance.

Tonglet agreed and indicated that came around as the race progressed Sunday.   

“Judging by each qualifying round and up until the semis, we felt like we were doing fair and that was pretty much it. Then Tim [crew chief Kulungian] decided to try something. He went for it, and he said it’s either going to run fast or it’s going to slow down a lot. It picked up in the semis and that’s just a huge confidence-booster – not only for this race but for the next races, showing we can run with ‘em,” Tonglet said. “But I say we’ve got to be absolutely perfect and you’ve got to have the tune-up dead-on to be able to run with those guys.”     

He was keeping up with them Sunday, all right, eliminating John Hall, Eddie Krawiec, and Hector Arana Jr., all tough competitors.

Tonglet, a firefighter from Metairie, La., registered his seventh victory for White Alligator Racing, his 17th overall, and his first of the season. That ended a seven-race winless streak that dated back to last fall at St. Louis.

The 2010 series champion and rookie of the year is third in the standings, behind the Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod tandem of Hines and Krawiec, as the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series action will resume this coming weekend at Bristol, Tenn.

No. 2 starter Hines, runner-up at Gainesville and Charlotte earlier this year, is winless in three final rounds. He’s the class’ all-time victories leader and had hoped to earn his 49th. His most recent victory was November 2017, at Pomona, Calif.

Hines advanced Sunday with victories against Hector Arana, Scotty Pollacheck, and Matt Smith before recording his 36th runner-up finish in 84 final rounds.

Top qualifier Arana Jr., who left Virginia with a semifinal finish, set low E.T. and top speed of the meet at 6.795, 199.14 on the Lucas Oil Buell.