With the 2006 eMax IHRA Drag Racing Series schedule entering the home stretch, Pro Modified competitor Alan Pittman feels that the knowledge and experience he and his team have gained this year will see them through to a solid, top-ten finish.

Currently sitting in the No. 10 spot, Pittman has lived through every possible scenario, good and bad, since he and team owner Mel Bush brought their distinctive supercharged 1962 Chevrolet “bubble top” to the Pro Mod wars at the beginning of the season.

He knew it would happen, expected it to happen, in fact, but it was still hard to deal with at times.

“We started off strong in San Antonio at the beginning of the year, and we went to the winner’s circle at Grand Bend, Ontario, in just our third race of the season,” Pittman said. “We thought we had dodged the ‘new car blues’ bullet since we had done well right out of the box, but looking back now it’s clear that we overlooked a lot of small things that eventually came back to bite us.”

Because of these “small things,” Pittman was unable to sustain any momentum the victory in Grand Bend had given him as his South Carolina-based team failed to qualify at the next two events. It was a humbling experience, and a real wake-up call to the veteran racer.

“We knew we were in for a fall, and it came,” Pittman said. “We had to go back to square one with our entire program and start fresh. We built the car ourselves, and we knew the chassis was working the way it was supposed to, so we began to look in the clutch can and in the engine compartment. We spent a lot of time in the dyno room at [engine builder] Carl Spiering’s shop, and we were able to pick up some additional horsepower. We’re still fighting with the clutch, but things are much better now, and we want to prove it by putting on a good show the rest of the year.”

For Pittman, who returned to the Pro Mod ranks after taking a couple of years off to establish his AP Race Cars business, it has been a mostly positive experience. In spite of the lows he encountered along the way, Pittman has qualified well, won a race, and posted career-best performance numbers.

On top of that, he brought a cool and unique hot rod to a class that has made its reputation over the years based on the variety of body styles and engine combinations utilized. The more off-the-wall the better, and Pittman’s Chevy fills the bill on all accounts.

With just four more races left on the IHRA schedule, beginning with this weekend’s Amalie Oil North American Nationals, Pittman wants to prove to himself, and to the racing community, that he’s been able to pull his program back together.

“We started strong, fell behind, and then slowly picked up the pace again,” he said. “With the things we’ve learned, the changes we’ve made, and the help of some good people, we’re in a good position to finish well in the points. All in all, I think we’ve done real well for a new team. We have a good car and a good engine program, and I firmly believe we can challenge for the title next season if we get a few breaks along the way.”

This weekend’s race is the Amalie Oil North American Nationals presented by New England Dodge Dealers, September 8 – 10, 2006, New England Dragway, Epping, New Hampshire.