Tricky Rickie Purges Blower Cars

Rickie Smith drove to the Pro Mod win at the NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Dragway—the first of 12 NHRA Pro Mod events this season.

Smith ran a 5.794 at 249.76 mph in his nitrous-huffing Chevrolet Camaro to take down Mike Janis’ supercharged Camaro in the final round and earn his first victory since Englishtown in 2017 and the 12th of his career. Smith defeated Bob Rahaim, Jim Whiteley and Mike Castellana on his way to the win. Whitely and Castellana drive blower cars.

“To be able to come out here after not having a sponsor all winter, and not knowing what we were going to do this season, and then end up getting a win in the first race is really special,” Smith said. “I started winning championships in 1976, and to keep winning races at this age is just unreal.”

Smith finished the 2017 season ninth in the standings and leaves the season-opening event as the points leader in pursuit of his fifth championship.

Janis secured the fifth runner-up finish of his Pro Mod career, as he chases his first victory since the 2015 season.

The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service continues at the NHRA SpringNationals in Houston, Tex. on April 20-22.

ROUND ONE — Todd Tutterow, Chevy Camaro, 5.833, 248.11 def. Jeremy Ray, Chevy Corvette, 5.939, 244.96; Chad Green, Corvette, 5.788, 248.29 def. Khalid alBalooshi, Camaro, 5.796, 250.51; Mike Castellana, Camaro, 5.746, 252.90 def. Carl Stevens, Camaro, 6.694, 159.44; Doug Winters, Chevy Chevelle, 6.174, 200.56 def. Shane Molinari, Pontiac Firebird, 7.277, 135.20; Mike Janis, Camaro, 5.765, 248.93 def. Dan Stevenson, Camaro, 5.830, 254.86; Jim Whiteley, Camaro, 5.868, 244.16 def. Steven Whiteley, Cadillac CTS-V, 5.869, 250.88; Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.802, 249.90 def. Bob Rahaim, Camaro, 8.363, 121.78; Steve Jackson, Camaro, 5.818, 248.34 def. Jose Gonzalez, Camaro, 5.807, 254.18;

QUARTERFINALS — Smith, 5.800, 249.90 def. J. Whiteley, Foul – Red Light; Castellana, 5.765, 251.95 def. Tutterow, 5.824, 247.47; Janis, 5.779, 248.11 def. Winters, 5.927, 244.47; Green, 5.783, 248.71 def. Jackson, 5.795, 248.11;

SEMIFINALS — Janis, 5.806, 247.02 def. Green, Foul – Centerline; Smith, 5.808, 249.26 def. Castellana, 6.107, 208.88;

FINAL — Smith, 5.794, 249.76 def. Janis, 6.597, 159.91.

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