Smith Smokes Jackson in Pro Mod at Gateway

Rickie Smith finished up an impressive weekend with his first victory of the season in the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing at Gateway, beating points leader Stevie “Fast” Jackson in the final round on Sunday.

Smith, a three-time world champion in the class, was on top in his nitrous-powered Bahrain1 Racing Camaro all weekend, qualifying No. 1 for the second straight race and going 5.768 at 252.19 mph to beat Jackson and the Bahrain1 blower car in the final. Jackson switched lanes for the final, perhaps not noticing that the track was peeling up in the left.

Smith, who qualified No. 1 with a 5.724 at 252.43, beat Alex Laughlin, Michael Biehle and Mike Castellana, who beat Smith in the Indy finals, to reach the championship round and his class-best 15th career victory.

Rickie, his right arm man Chad Hester, and Rickie’s rat terrier in the Gateway winners circle.

“It’s pretty awesome, at my age, to be fighting like this with these young cats,” Smith said. “I saw Stevie run a 5.77 and thought there’s no way I can run that, and then I run 5.76. Then he runs a 5.74 and I run a 5.72, so it was pretty exciting this weekend. I’ve got three awesome kids and wife that stand behind me.”

Jackson, who was the defending event winner and qualified second this weekend, advanced to his fifth final round in 2019 and 12th in his career thanks to wins against Carl Stevens Jr. (a no-show), defending world champ Mike Janis, and Todd Tutterow. He also stretched his commanding points lead to 156 points heading into the final two events of the 2019 season.

PRO MODIFIED: 

ROUND ONE — Rickie Smith, Chevy Camaro, 5.771, 251.67 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.085, 248.84; Mike Castellana, Camaro, 5.809, 248.66 def. Sidnei Frigo, Camaro, 5.919, 249.81; Steve Jackson, Camaro, 5.769, 249.67 def. Carl Stevens, Camaro, Broke – No Show; Khalid alBalooshi, Camaro, 5.814, 253.66 def. Scott Oksas, Ford Mustang, 9.800, 84.49; Brandon Snider, Chevy Corvette, 5.771, 247.34 def. Steven Whiteley, Camaro, 9.677, 94.18; Todd Tutterow, Camaro, 5.820, 248.07 def. Steve Matusek, Mustang, 5.884, 246.84; Mike Janis, Camaro, 5.835, 248.25 def. Eric Latino, Camaro, 5.864, 248.66; Michael Biehle, Mustang, 5.859, 252.33 def. Bob Rahaim, Camaro, 5.817, 246.75;

QUARTERFINALS — Jackson, 5.768, 250.27 def. Janis, 5.822, 247.38; Tutterow, 5.814, 248.75 def. alBalooshi, 5.910, 250.18; Smith, 5.788, 251.11 def. Biehle, 5.835, 252.80; Castellana, 5.789, 248.16 def. Snider, 5.796, 246.21;

SEMIFINALS — Jackson, 5.780, 250.27 def. Tutterow, 5.800, 248.71; Smith, 5.781, 252.43 def. Castellana, 8.006, 115.78;

FINAL — Smith, 5.768, 252.19 def. Jackson, 7.413, 113.99.

Pro Modified points:

1. Steve Jackson, 786; 2.  Todd Tutterow, 630; 3.  Mike Janis, 619; 4.  Jose Gonzalez, 527; 5. Rickie Smith, 525; 6.  Sidnei Frigo, 517; 7.  Mike Castellana, 484; 8.  Khalid alBalooshi, 481; 9. Brandon Snider, 421; 10.  Chad Green, 362.

story by NHRA, photo by Tim Hailey

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