2017 NHRA U.S. NATIONALS - J&A SERVICES PRO MOD NOTEBOOK
FINAL NOTEBOOK - FRIGO WINS THE BATTLE BUT LOSES THE WAR OF ATTRITION
Sidnei Frigo raced to his first career NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series victory Monday at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. This weekend’s Pro Mod racing, presented by JEGS.com, is the ninth of 12 events on the 2017 schedule.
Frigo raced a 6.318-second pass at 203.68 mph in his Artivinco Racing / Fuel Tech late model Corvette to defeat veteran Troy Coughlin who ran a 9.079 at 122.76 in his JEG’s Mail Order Corvette.
"It's amazing,” Frigo said. “For my crew chief, for my guys. My son's here. It's amazing. The car is so...everything is working good now. I'm very confident. And thank you to my crew."
Frigo faced-off with Steve Jackson, Steven Whiteley and Richie Stevens, the husband to Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders, before reaching his first career final round. Coughlin set the track speed record in qualifying and defeated Jim Whiteley, Johnny Gray and Rickie Smith before falling to Frigo in the finals.
Despite a first round exit, Mike Castellana, the No. 1 qualifier, maintains the points lead. Coughlin follows in second and event winner Frigo is fifth.
NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing continues at the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway Sept. 15-17.
Final finish order (1-16) at the 63rd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. The ninth of 12 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
1. Sidnei Frigo; 2. Troy Coughlin; 3. Rickie Smith; 4. Richie Stevens; 5. Shane Molinari; 6. Steven Whiteley; 7. Danny Rowe; 8. Jonathan Gray; 9. Steve Jackson; 10. Steve Matusek; 11. Jim Whiteley; 12. Khalid alBalooshi; 13. Shannon Jenkins; 14. Mike Castellana; 15. Harry Hruska; 16. Dan Stevenson.
Monday's final results from the 63rd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. The ninth of 12 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
Pro Modified -- Sidnei Frigo, Chevy Corvette, 6.318, 203.68 def. Troy Coughlin, Corvette, 9.079, 122.76.
Final round-by-round results from the 63rd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, The ninth of 12 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
ROUND ONE -- Richie Stevens, Chevy Camaro, 5.829, 248.39 def. Khalid alBalooshi, Camaro, 5.877, 248.29; Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 5.837, 249.07 def. Harry Hruska, Camaro, 7.035, 188.75; Troy Coughlin, Chevy Corvette, 5.808, 257.24 def. Jim Whiteley, Camaro, 5.842, 249.44; Shane Molinari, Pontiac Firebird, 5.778, 257.78 def. Dan Stevenson, Camaro, 7.503, 131.97; Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.847, 248.43 def. Steve Matusek, Camaro, 5.836, 247.20; Steven Whiteley, Cadillac CTS-V, 10.812, 92.13 def. Shannon Jenkins, Ford Mustang, Foul - Red Light; Sidnei Frigo, Corvette, 5.807, 253.99 def. Steve Jackson, Camaro, 5.812, 248.39; Danny Rowe, Corvette, 5.851, 247.88 def. Mike Castellana, Camaro, 6.177, 183.62;
QUARTERFINALS -- Stevens, 5.877, 247.84 def. Rowe, 7.449, 132.52; Coughlin, 5.756, 255.63 def. Gray, Foul - Centerline; Smith, 5.838, 248.43 def. Molinari, 5.858, 255.97; Frigo, 5.812, 252.66 def. S. Whiteley, 5.914, 247.75;
SEMIFINALS -- Frigo, 5.801, 253.28 def. Stevens, 5.906, 240.68; Coughlin, 5.778, 256.41 def. Smith, 5.835, 248.52;
FINAL -- Frigo, 6.318, 203.68 def. Coughlin, 9.079, 122.76.
Point standings (top 10) following the 63rd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, The ninth of 12 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
1. Mike Castellana, 697; 2. Troy Coughlin, 674; 3. Shane Molinari, 559; 4. Steven Whiteley, 514; 5. Sidnei Frigo, 481; 6. Steve Jackson, 470; 7. Steve Matusek, 432; 8. Jonathan Gray, 427; 9. Rickie Smith, 373; 10. Danny Rowe, 349.
SUNDAY PRO MOD NOTEBOOK
BETTERING THE BUMP AND BIG UPSETS - On Saturday night, the J&A Service Pro Mod Series set a new record for the quickest field in NHRA history.
On Sunday, the series bettered that number once again.
The previous record coming into the weekend for the quickest Pro Mod field in NHRA history was a 5.85 set at Gainesville earlier this year. But on Sunday, that number - which had already been surpassed on Saturday - was lowered even further to a 5.846 held by Danny Rowe as one driver managed to improve their position in the final round of qualifying.
So just how impressive is the new bump spot?
For Rowe, the last man in the field with a 5.846 at 247.38 mph, he remembers battling to get into the show not that long ago with mid-6s.
“When I first got into this, I remember a million years ago when I was excited about trying to run a 6.30. So the idea of running a 5.70 is absolutely insane,” said Rowe, driver of the Vektor Vodka 2016 Corvette. “It’s exciting. The class has done unbelievable things over the years. Racing today, everybody has to show their hand, show what you’ve got, but it is great. It is just fast, badass racing.”
Rowe, who has been involved in the class for a number of years, loves watching the numbers continue to improve, but often wonders just how much the class will continue to evolve.
“The class is growing. The number of cars and the number of fans, everyone sees how exciting the class is and they want to get involved,” Rowe said. “I love being a part of this. I think it is exciting that the cars continue to develop and get faster and faster. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how much more these things will continue to improve.”
But that wasn’t the only headline Rowe made on Sunday.
After just hanging on to make the field, Rowe then went out and took down No. 1 qualifier and points leader Mike Castellana in round one of eliminations with a 5.851 to a 6.177, moving him into the quarterfinals and a matchup with Richie Stevens when racing resumes on Monday.
UPSET CITY - There were a number of big upsets in round one of Pro Mod eliminations on Sunday, including a big win by Brazilian racer Sidnei Frigo who defeated Stevie Jackson with a 5.807 at 253.99 mph to Jackson’s 5.812 at 248.39 mph. Frigo will face Steve Whiteley in round two on Monday.
WEATHERMEN - One of the biggest challenges of any race weekend is the weather.
Adjusting to temperatures, cloud cover, moisture in the air, it is a dizzying dance of number crunching and exhaustive formulas that make good, smart crew chiefs one of the most valuable assets a team can have.
And for a weekend like what has been seen thus far here at Indianapolis, a good crew chief is of the utmost importance.
What started as a cool, damp evening on Friday, has slowly evolved into hot, slick conditions, resulting in big changes and even bigger question marks. What began with track records and unheard of bump spots, gave way to a Sunday afternoon filled with aborted run after aborted run in nearly all of the professional classes.
And that was especially true in Pro Mod.
After racing to the quickest field in NHRA history over the first two days, Sunday was reduced to a glorified test session during the final round of qualifying as teams prepared for the first round of eliminations later in the evening.
And with those varying conditions, teams were throwing just about everything at the cars to be successful at the biggest race of the year.
“We are happy with what we have here this weekend, but it has been a little tough. Every day has seen different conditions and that has been tough to keep the car consistent,” said Khalid Al Balooshi, who drove 2017 Camaro to the No. 8 position on the ladder. “I think we are at the point where we have the car consistent, but it isn’t that fast. Basically today, we were starting from zero.
“What I have been seeing, Rickie Smith and the crew, they have been doing a good job. They have been paying special attention to the gear ratio, changing the four-link, changing the tires between runs. I think, for them, it is tough. For me as a driver, it is easy. But for them, it is a challenge.”
While Balooshi just earned his way into the top half of the field, it wasn’t enough to save him from a big matchup later in the evening as No. 9 qualifier Richie Stevens took the veteran racer out in round one with a 5.829 to a 5.877.
LAST MINUTE DEAL - Richie Stevens was not supposed to be here at Indy this weekend.
In fact, up until two weeks ago, Stevens was only a spectator.
But in a last minute deal that came together just a little over a week ago, Stevens not only found himself at the “Big Go,” but qualified well, placing his ‘68 Camaro ninth in the 26-car field.
“This whole thing was a last minute deal. The car was purchased back in the spring and it has been sitting between Musi’s shop and Modern Racing. I mean, we talked about racing here at Indy a while back, but I didn’t know if it was going to come together,” Stevens said. “Then, less than two weeks ago, I got a phone call saying that they are going to try and make it work. So they put the car together, Justin Elkes at Modern Racing got it ready to test at St. Louis and here we are.”
At the test session earlier this week in St. Louis, Stevens said the car made four beautiful, clean passes, giving him the confidence to bring the car over to the U.S. Nationals this weekend.
“It has been quite a journey these last couple days just to be here,” Stevens said. “I am thankful to everyone who helped put this deal together. We have good power, but I am still learning. I’ve made less than 10 runs total in the car, but each run I am learning something new about the car.”
So what is the mindset for a driver who planned to be a spectator and suddenly finds himself a crucial part of the weekend drama?
“It’s fun actually. A lot of times these last minute deals either don’t follow through or you get somewhere and stuff happens and it doesn’t go according to plan. But this weekend, everything has gone according to plan,” Stevens said.
And from U.S. Nationals afterthought to serious contender, Stevens moved on to championship Monday with a round one win over Khalid Al Balooshi, setting up a matchup with fellow upset winner Danny Rowe with a spot in the semifinals on the line.
STEVIE FAST - Stevie Jackson, or Stevie Fast as he is known to most, has seen a meteoric rise through the NHRA ranks.
Known for some of the wilder moments in eighth-mile drag racing history as a star on the radial tire racing scene, Jackson made his NHRA debut - and quarter-mile debut - earlier this year at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals and has followed that up with a string of successes.
He lept onto the scene back in March by topping the previous quickest Pro Mod field in NHRA history in Florida and, again this weekend, qualified in the top five of the newest record field, all-the-while looking like a bonafide star in the Bahrain 1 Jerry Bickel-built Camaro with a supercharged Brad Anderson motor.
But, while he appears a quick study to the uninitiated, to Jackson, it is just the culmination of years of hard knocks and learning the game.
“It seems a lot quicker to ya’ll than what it is to me. I have been racing for 20 years now,” Jackson said. “I started out racing junk and now I’ve got a good team behind me. I’ve got a good sponsor in Bahrain 1, and I’ve got good people working on this stuff. When you’ve got a good group of people, good funding behind you, good support, this all happens a lot quicker. Plus, there is a little bit of luck. Maybe we just got lucky.”
So how has it been being a part of some bad-fast fields in his very first year in NHRA competition?
“It is crazy. Our goal in Q1 is to go fast enough where we don’t think we get bumped out. At Gainesville, I thought we had to run an 88 or an 89 to do that. Now I have to tell them that we need to go run in the 70s just to make sure we don’t get bumped out.
“I mean, every car out here can win. There are no ducks. It is as hard as it gets.”
And that fact was proven on Sunday. Sidnei Frigo, the No. 13 qualifier, upset Jackson in the opening round of eliminations on Sunday with a 5.807 to a 5.812, knocking Jackson out of a race he so desperately wanted to be a part of on Monday.
“This has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid,” Jackson said of racing at Lucas Oil Raceway. “I have been watching this race on TV for 30 years wanting to come here. I don’t get nervous in the race car, I am a machine, but when I rolled up under that tower to go out there for Q1, my brake foot was shaking.
“When you feel that kind of pressure and you have been out on the track as many times as me, that means it is a big deal. It’s a shame that ride came to an end so early.
CLOSE - Steve Matusek, who currently sits sixth in the J&A Service Pro Mod Series standings, had a rather quiet weekend in Indianapolis. After qualifying 12th, he tried to make some noise in the opening round of eliminations, but lost on a holeshot to Rickie Smith. Matusek had the quicker 5.836 at 247.20 mph, but lost to Smith’s 5.847 at 248.43 mph.
BOOST IT UP - It never ends.
One of the biggest challenges - and exciting features - of the Pro Modified category is balancing the performance of the varying power adders of the turbochargers, superchargers and nitrous oxide.
And while the current state of power appears to be as equal as ever, with the entire field separated by the smallest of margins, for some of the smaller teams, they would like to see the rules opened up a bit.
Just ask Floridian Ruben Tetsoshvili.
Tetsoshvili contends in a unique, bright green, hemi twin-turbo 2017 Camaro that he is adamant is a “nightmare to control.”
But as the cars continue to improve and the battle just to make the field becomes even harder, he would like to see things loosened up a bit to help the smaller budgeted teams make up some ground.
“It’s unreal right now. It is getting faster and faster and tougher just to get in,” Tetsoshvili said. “You have to have a perfect day, basically, to get in. You are not going to do it otherwise. Right now we are just out here trying to find that perfect run so we have something to work on. If not, you go home and work on it some more and try to figure out what you need to keep up with these guys.”
While Tetsoshvili did not make the field this weekend - and has yet to make a field this season - he has hopes that one day he will find that little bit extra, but knows he is still a long way from contending for wins out here with the J&A Service Pro Mod Series.
So what is it going to take?
“The biggest problem seems to be the boost limit. It doesn’t like it. When we open up the boost it behaves like a normal car,” Tetsoshvili said. “It’s harder on the teams that have smaller budgets. Just because, whenever the rules change, you have to do a whole new R&D and figure out what it is going to take to make the boost run.
“Honestly, I would like to see no boost limits. It would just be a lot easier. But what I would like to see doesn’t really matter. I mean, you can’t really talk about how close the racing is, because whatever (the other teams) are doing is apparently working because the whole field is within a tenth. Right now it seems pretty fair, as long as you know what you are doing.”
SATURDAY - PRO MOD NOTEBOOK
THROWBACK RACING - Indianapolis. The Big Go. The biggest drag race in the world.
Just the name elicits memories of massive fields, upwards of 30, 40, even 50 teams trying to make fields much smaller in size, battling for position in both professional and sportsman competition.
But in recent years, and for reasons much too long to list, those kinds of races, ones in which dozens of cars failed to even make the field, have gone by the wayside. And with reduced fields, gone also are drama-filled weekends where teams fought just to make the field, let alone win the race.
But that type of throwback racing is not gone completely. While the fields in Top Fuel and Funny Car and Pro Stock will send home a few drivers, in Pro Modified, the drama of qualifying is still very much alive and well.
In Pro Mod, there still exists real battles just to make the field. At most races, some 25-30 teams compete to make a 16-car field, with bump spot records continuing to dip into uncharted territory. Just this weekend, it takes a 5.84 just to race on Sunday.
And it is that excitement and drama that continues to draw in racers, and fans, into one of the most exciting categories in the sport of drag racing today.
“I think it is the best class in the world to run, and that is what the fans tell us as well,” said Harry Hruska, driver of the Precision Turbo Camaro. “I think the situation is that the three power adders are part of that recipe. There is always controversy with power adders. Who is fastest? Who should be fastest? The bottom line is, it is always going to be a balancing act. But what it really does is it gives you the opportunity to learn, and isn’t that what racing is all about?
“When I see a car like (Mike) Castellana in front of me going down the track and I see how beautiful a run it is, I think, ‘man, I wish my car would do that.’ And that makes me inspired. It makes me want to run like that. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.
“I think that in Pro Mod, we are always inspired by the people that are out there setting the bar. It makes us want to do it too.”
And Hruska is learning the hard way.
A rookie in every definition of the word, Hruska’s venture into the world of Pro Mod is the very first car he has ever raced. But a challenge? Not exactly. Hrusky has set records in the turbo category and continues to be a force in the class, qualifying in the top half of the field this weekend with 26 cars trying to make the field. Hruska is currently seventh with a 5.795 at 253.37 mph.
“My year started out really good, but like a lot of teams, we had some challenges midseason and we are trying to get our mojo back,” Hruska said. “Sometimes you just lose your setup and now we are getting back into it.”
BUMP SPOT RECORD - A bump spot record was set Saturday night, as it took an incredible 5.849 just to make the field. And in that bump spot? Jim Whiteley, whose 5.849 at 249.35 will have to endure one additional qualifying session on Sunday.
FAST, I MEAN REALLY FAST - If you ask anyone in the Pro Mod pits about Mike Castellana, you will hear (mostly) nothing but words of praise and envy.
That is because, in a field filled with heavy hitters and bad-fast cars, everyone is chasing the man from Oyster Bay, New York. Castellana is currently leading the championship standings in the J&A Pro Mod Series and once again was the quickest man in the world this weekend with a blistering 5.709-second pass at 252.52 mph carrying over from Friday.
So what does Castellana contribute to having the car that most every driver in the world would love to get their hands on for a weekend? An incredible team with some incredibly smart minds.
“Frank (Manzo) and the crew, they prepare the car well. We did some testing before we came into this race and they made the right calls,” Castellana said. “Hopefully we can keep the string going for the rest of the weekend.”
With a couple of wins and four finals already this season, Castellana is confident he can keep that success going with only four races remaining this year, including this weekend’s U.S. Nationals.
“There is a lot of tough competition. You have these turbo cars that are coming up fast, we are just going to try and stay ahead of them,” Castellana said. “We have a few races left, we just have to stay one round ahead and we will be in good shape for this championship.”
So with the turbo cars closing, is he concerned that his machine might be losing some ground?
“To me, I don’t really care,” Castellana said. “That part falls on the tuners. They have to deal with that and make the cars perform. Obviously Frank (Manzo) is making that happen right now.”
WORKING FOR YOUR TOYS - Rickie Smith is a legend in the sport.
He has won big races. He was won championships. He has set records. Heck, there really isn’t much the King, North Carolina native hasn’t accomplished in his historic career.
But with each passing season, the conversation continues to shift further away from what is happening on the track and more on what is happening off the track. As in, when is he going to hang it up and retire from the sport.
And his response? Don’t ask - he is far from hanging up his racing helmet.
“As long as my health if OK and I have a sponsor, I might as well race,” Smith said. “I drove bulldozers when I was young and I really don’t want to go back to doing that. So as long as I can race, I am going to race. I mean, if you like toys, you have to work. I like toys, that means I have to keep working.”
So with retirement off the table, the conversation once again shifts back to his success on the track. And Smith is not shy in letting people know that he still has it.
“It may be bragging a little, but I’ve been the fastest nitrous car for probably five years now in quarter-mile racing and we are still the fastest car,” Smith said. “The car is still running well. We won one earlier this year and that is what I am always trying to do - win one more. I am just glad I am out here still able to do this.”
Qualified in the top half of the field after three qualifying sessions, Smith is excited to see what this team can do on Monday, but admits that at this point in his career, even Indianapolis is just another race after thousands of passes logged in his career.
“We won here a couple years ago and yes, it is Indy and you want to win here, but I can’t say at my age that winning one is any better than another,” Smith said. “Racing is so tough anymore, it is a real thrill just to win a race, any race. And that is what we are trying to do this weekend and every weekend.”
FIRST WIN, CHECK - The last time the J&A Pro Mod Series was in action, Shane Molinari was hoisting the trophy, having just won very his first NHRA race at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio.
Since then, Molinari has kept busy, racing at the Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod in Denver before heading to Indianapolis this weekend. But in his first NHRA race since that win, Molinari admits that he has been anxious to get back on the track after a recent string of successes.
“It’s good to get back in the seat. It felt like a long time off. To runner-up one race and then win the next one, it is hard to beat that,” Molinari said. “We have been ready to get back out on the track and we are going to go out, make some laps and see what happens.”
Molinari’s weekend has been up and down thus far, facing a DQ in his first pass on Friday, before rocketing into the top five in session two and keeping it there entering Sunday’s final qualifying session. Molinari’s 5.750 at 257.63 mph currently has him third on the charts.
“We were DNQ our first run, then went 78 in our second. I guess we had to get rid of the jiggers,” Molinari said. “We are just going to go out and do what we do and hopefully it all comes together. Anybody can win in this class. It is a badass bunch of people.”
FAMILY TIES - NHRA racing runs deep in the Whiteley family.
Jim Whiteley is a Top Alcohol Dragster champion and Pro Mod competitor. Jim’s wife, Annie Whiteley, is Top Alcohol Funny Car champion. Corey Reed recently made his NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle debut. And then there is Steve Whiteley.
Steve is the son of JIm and Annie, and step-brother of Reed. What began in Junior Dragster has led to career in quicker and faster classes, leading to his standout role in the Pro Modified ranks this season.
So at the biggest race in the world for the sport of drag racing, what is it like to have the whole family out racing in the premier classes, all trying to win on the biggest stage of them all?
“There are two answers to that. First, the whole Indy thing, you try not to think about it. If you add more pressure to yourself, you are only going to screw up. We are a very fortunate family to be drag racing, much less at Indy and at an NHRA event,” Whiteley said. “The Indy thing is awesome. Even as a kid racing Junior Dragsters and getting to watch my dad run his Super Stock application, my mom running her altered, that was always really cool to be a part of.
“The cherry on top was when we grew up and we started competing in quicker cars. Then in Gainesville, mom won it and I won it at the same time. That was pretty cool. That is what we strive for every time, but to think about doing it here in Indy, that would be amazing. When these moments do happen, which is very rare, words cannot describe that feeling.”
But it is possible.
Annie Whiteley is a three-time runner-up at the U.S. Nationals, including two years in a row, and is qualified second here this weekend. Steve Whiteley, meanwhile, is also qualified well, sitting fifth after three of four qualifying sessions with a weekend-best pass of 5.785 at 249.03 mph.
“All things considered, we are running really well,” Whiteley said. “It is the best year we have had so far. Historically, we have always qualified really well, but as a team we struggled on race day. Our goal for this year is to be in the top 10 so I can change that 5200 on my window, but even bigger than that, be better on race day.
“To win rounds in races because, if we can’t outrun them, let’s outrace them. Race smart, tree them, do whatever we have to do. For the most part, we have achieved everything we wanted, so now we are already setting goals for next year.”
FRIDAY NOTEBOOK - CASTELLANA LEADS A SUPERCHARGED COALITION ATOP PRO MOD LADDER
CASTELLANA PACES - Mike Castellana ran quickest in the first round of qualifying at the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. This weekend’s Pro Mod racing, presented by JEGS.com, is the ninth of 12 events on the 2017 schedule.
Castellana raced a track elapsed-time record 5.709-second pass at 252.52 mph in his Al Anabi Racing Chevrolet Camaro during Friday’s only qualifying session at the world’s biggest drag race.
"It's great, you know, to be No. 1 after the first session,” said Castellana, who is the points leader and holds the national elapsed-time record. “It takes the pressure off the rest of the weekend. I owe it all to my crew - they just do an awesome job with this car."
GETTING THE INDY WIN - Two-time NHRA Pro Mod champion Troy Coughlin was the fourth quickest in Friday's lone session, stopping the clocks at 5.793 seconds, at 255.77. He was also the quickest of five turbocharged entries this weekend.
Coughlin has his sights set on a much larger prize than this weekend. He wants a third series championship, but to do this, he understands a win this weekend is vital to the mission.
Coughlin has advanced to two straight final rounds, closing the gap to 82 points on Mike Castellana heading into this weekend.
“We’re in that second half of the Pro Mod season, and it’s time to get after it,” said Coughlin, who won in Bristol this year. “We’re trying to go a little faster and keep the car running (well). We’re 4-5 rounds out of first with 16 rounds left. We’ve got a good car, a five-star team and we’re a threat.”
Coughlin has ten career NHRA Pro Mod wins but none at Indy. He came close last year, qualifying No. 1 and losing to Rickie Smith in the finals.
FAST DELIVERY - JEGS.com is the presenting sponsor of this weekend. It is the ninth of 12 races during the 2017 NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series season.
“The Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals is the world’s biggest drag race and the racers taking part in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series will want to add a win to their resume,” said Brad Gerber, NHRA vice president, and chief development officer. “The support of JEGS.com to the event and series is monumental to the sport.”
In 1960, Jeg Coughlin Sr. founded JEGS as a small speed shop. It has grown into a high-performance powerhouse that includes a race team - Team JEGS, 250,000 square foot warehouse, retail store, mail order, and website. The 350 plus employees at JEGS still strongly believe and practice our simple business philosophy. Customer Care is #1.
"Putting the JEGS.com brand on the biggest drag race of the year is very exciting," said Troy Coughlin, one of four brothers that own and operate JEGS Mail Order. "We had a great response to our presenting sponsorship of last year's U.S. Nationals, so it's great to be back on board this year. My thanks to everyone in the J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series, and best of luck to all the racers."
CHA-CHING - Winning a $100,000 prize in a drag race might not enable a drag racer to retire to the big house, but it sure doesn't hurt the bottom line in the least. Don't take our word for it, just ask Mike Bowman.
Bowman, the longtime turbocharged doorslammer racer from Oakwood, Ca., scored the winner-take-all $100K event, the Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Modified earlier this month at Bandimere Speedway.
The massive payday, Bowman admits, hasn't changed his approach to drag racing.
"I don’t know if it changes it too much," Bowman admitted. "It helps because of the money we spend doing this. It is a lot of money no matter how you look at it. I’ve been telling people it’s like winning 10 NHRA races at one time as far as the money goes. Not all the Pro Mod guys from NHRA were there but there were a lot of really good cars that were there and we got to race those guys and beat some of them and that’s what it’s all about."
Bowman beat second-generation drag racer Steven Whiteley in the final round.
"To me, it’s about winning the race," Bowman admitted. "I wasn’t thinking about the money before the final round, I really wasn’t, I just wanted to win the race. I wanted to beat Steven and come home with the win. The money is awesome but winning the race is best. It would be like if I could somehow win this race. The money doesn’t mean as much as the race itself because it’s history if you can do it. That’s kind of what I’m looking at."
Bowman does have a bit of history in Pro Modified, though. Back in 2003, he was part of a two-car exhibition at Milan Dragway during an IHRA event in an attempt to get rulemakers to consider allowing the turbocharged combination acceptance.
At the time, the IHRA was the primary series for Pro Modified racing.
Bowman's chance at making his place in doorslammer history, instead made for a bad chapter in his career.
"I had a huge explosion, a huge fire, nearly burned the car to the ground," Bowman recalled. "All the Pro Mod guys were watching and they were like, 'man, we did not honestly think you were going to get out of that car in one piece.”
Bowman admits the turbocharged combination was really on the crude side in those days.
"Back then things were so different," Bowman explained. "Electric fuel pumps versus mechanical and we’re trying to introduce the boost control was archaic compared to nowadays, the way the manifolds are built. There are so many different things that are different now than they were then and I think that’s how they progressed to be what they are today."
Bowman admits the situation was a dangerous learning experience. The win in Denver, he adds, made up for all the bumpy roads along the way.
"It’s crazy. I don’t honestly know if I could ever win that big again," Bowman said. "That’s one of the things I talk about, other than winning that or the US Nationals, how never winning that big again. I finally got where I wanted to be and my biggest thing is being competitive in racing with all of my peers and the other Pro Mod guys. Racing the best and beating those guys, that’s what counts at the end of the day."
BILLY'S BACK - For the son of Indy's favorite son, Bob Glidden, the struggle of returning from a preseason crash while testing, was very real.
Thanks to an influx of support from Ray Skillman, and his Skillman Auto Group, Billy Glidden made his 2017 debut at the NHRA U.S. Nationals behind the wheel of a Sonny's EFI, nitrous-injected, 1968 Camaro formerly campaigned by Jim Halsey.
The odds have never fazed the Glidden and his hard-working wife/crew chief Shannon Glidden.
"I guess we just kind of bolted it all together the way we got it," Glidden said of the Camaro, which needed a massive amount of work to get ready for the rigors of NHRA competition.
"That didn’t suit what I thought it needed to be. So it has been a very long process and we’re really not done yet. We’re just trying to make the best out of it to compete here."
Glidden missed the cut following Friday's lone session, but isn't deterred from making the project which began as a rolling chassis and a box filled to the brim with widgets in late June.
"We did strip all the wiring," Glidden explained. "We ended up rewiring the entire car. We’ve had front struts off of the car. We’ve had different bell housings in the car. We put bars in everywhere and had to cut the seat out. We’ve redone how the transmission goes in. We’ve redone the entire rear of the car. It’s totally redone. And quite honestly I don’t think it’s where it should be but I was trying to not make the car too heavy for what we’re trying to accomplish here.
"I didn’t want to go so far that I didn’t have an idea of what’s doing what. It has been a very tough job, very long, every day, every night, all day, all night. We’ve had the fellows in here. Nick White, he came down a couple times a week and spent a couple hours just filling in what he could. I’ve gotten some good advice from a lot of folks, Jerry Bickel, Todd Hoerner, Mark Neebus, and Chris Bell all pitched in."
Glidden made his first runs last weekend at an NMCA event and while he didn't set the Pro Mod world on fire; he didn't set himself ablaze.
The Camaro represented Glidden's first purpose built Pro Mod car, and had quite a lesser number of runs on it. Glidden's Mustang he crashed began life as a Pro Stocker and had approximately 12,863 runs on it before the accident.
"The feel of [this Camaro] is very different," Glidden explained. "We’ve still got some things that are not right and I’m just crutching it to hopefully where we can use things. The very first two attempts I made out here at Indy, it rolled when I put it on the chip. But other than that when I let the clutch out, and made a run, 400 or 500-foot shooting fire, it was so smooth and nice and easy that I figured that I had done something wrong with my wiring and the nitrous didn’t come on.
"But it did. And then the third run I fixed that fact that it was rolling. We’ve fallen way behind on tire testing with Mickey Thompson, so I’m going to try to get some tire testing done."
"We found a few more gremlins in this thing, and I hope that we have those corrected."