Jose Gonzalez started his Sunday morning by making the quickest run in E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series history and ended his day with a victory, beating Justin Bond in the final round of the opening race of the 2021 season at Gainesville Raceway.
The race, which was presented by Jerry Bickel Race Cars and FTI Performance, is the first of 12 events during the 2021 E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service season, and Gonzalez rolled to his third career win.
Gonzalez went 5.720-seconds at 254.33 mph in his ProCharger-powered Q80 Racing/EGR Racing Camaro to beat Bond in the final round as Justin, who was the No. 1 qualifier, slowed to an 8.341 at 112.00.
After qualifying third, Gonzalez eclipsed the record Bond set Saturday night, going an incredible 5.621 at 254.62 to win in the first round of eliminations against Jerico Balduf and make the quickest run in class history. He followed with round wins against Clint Satterfield and Khalid Al-Balooshi to reach the final round for the sixth time in his career, meeting Bond for the first time in eliminations.
“The car actually feels like I’ve been in it for almost a year driving it,” said Gonzalez, who didn’t race in 2020. “I was actually a bit scared with all the new rules that we have to shift, and I had never shifted (in) this car before. I’m just happy where we are being able to go to the finals (and) win at the very first race.”
Bond, who went a whopping 5.638 at 253.80 to qualify No. 1 for the first time in his ProCharger-powered JBS/Bahrain 1 Racing Camaro, beat Jim Whiteley, Jeffrey Barker and Jonathan Gray to reach his third career final round.
Saturday night’s final qualifying session was marred by a spectacular crash. Brandon Pesz was out of the groove and up against the wall in the left lane. His car made a quick move across the track and in front of Dustin Nesloney in the right lane. Nesloney slammed into Pesz, whose car was rolled over in fireball and shower of sparks.
At the time, I was in the lanes with the Top Fuel Harleys and talking to Bob Malloy’s brother Jack. We both heard the impact and gasp of the crowd. I turned and looked at the Jumbotron. All I saw was flames and chromoly tubing. It looked like a desperate situation, so all were amazed and relieved when both drivers got out of their cars, seemingly OK. Pesz was back hanging at the starting line before the round was complete.
The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service returns to action April 30-May 2 as part of the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
PRO MODIFIED eliminations
ROUND ONE — Jeffery Barker, Chevy Camaro, 5.722, 251.86 def. Dwanye Wolfe, Camaro, 6.039, 245.05; Justin Bond, Camaro, 5.720, 244.21 def. Jim Whiteley, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Jose Gonzalez, Camaro, 5.621, 254.62 def. Jerico Balduf, Chevy Chevelle, 5.736, 250.09; Khalid alBalooshi, Camaro, 5.686, 250.23 def. Jeff Jones, Chevy Corvette, Foul – Red Light; JR Gray, Camaro, 5.803, 249.81 def. Brandon Snider, Corvette, 6.021, 247.25; Lyle Barnett, Camaro, 5.741, 251.30 def. Tommy Daprile, Camaro, 5.760, 250.78; Clint Satterfield, Camaro, 6.333, 166.37 def. Kris Thorne, Camaro, 8.266, 114.98; Alex Laughlin, Ford Mustang, 5.724, 248.39 def. Rickie Smith, Camaro, 8.037, 115.45;
QUARTERFINALS — alBalooshi, 5.719, 253.23 def. Laughlin, 6.149, 240.98; Gonzalez, 5.746, 254.18 def. Satterfield, Broke – No Show; Gray, 5.780, 249.90 def. Barnett, 5.758, 250.55; Bond, 5.710, 252.10 def. Barker, 5.802, 250.64;
SEMIFINALS — Bond, 5.711, 251.63 def. Gray, 5.787, 249.39; Gonzalez, 5.722, 254.42 def. alBalooshi, 5.725, 252.76;
FINAL — Gonzalez, 5.720, 254.33 def. Bond, 8.341, 112.00.