It ain’t over 'til it’s over, but if Von Smith wins again this weekend, it’ll certainly be close.
With two straight wins entering this weekend’s event at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park, June 24-27, the driver of the Barwa/Al-Anabi ’68 Camaro has a chance to take complete control of the points race in the first-year NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
“We’re hoping to take the positives from the last two races and carry it into this weekend and win another one,” said Smith, who has three wins and a 92-point lead through the first six races of the 10-race Pro Mod season.
This weekend’s race marks the third in a row that the Pro Mod drivers will be in action, the most taxing stretch of the schedule for the drivers in the first-year series, but one that Smith welcomes.
“The more we race back to back, the better it is for me and the team, just staying jelled,” Smith said. “We’re very fortunate that we had the Englishtown race and then we came home; that just helped us logistics-wise to come home. I’ve always said the more I can race back to back, the better we race, and it’s showing that that’s the way it is.”
The win in Bristol was his third this season – the Oak Ridge, Tenn., native won at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals in Madison in May and the NHRA SuperNationals in Englishtown in June -- in the first six events, and it has given him a commanding 92-point lead over Danny Rowe and a 97-point lead over Jay Payne.
“While I like the lead, I want to have a bigger lead leaving Norwalk,” he said. “It’s not [comfortable], if you listen to [the other teams], we heard [in Bristol], ‘You win this, and it’s done,’ and it’s not even close to done. On this team, [the mind-set is] 'Keep your head down.' The lead could be taken up in one race by us not qualifying.”
The last time thta Smith was in Norwalk, in 2007, he advanced to the Top Alcohol Funny Car final round in the Centre Pointe Collision Camaro and finished as runner-up to current Funny Car racer Bob Tasca III.
Though he would certainly like a third straight win, a repeat of that runner-up this weekend would put him in a great position heading into the two-month break before Indy. After this weekend’s event, the Pro Mod drivers will not race again until Labor Day weekend at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, the first of the three races to end the season – they will finish with races in Charlotte and Las Vegas.
“I’m not crazy about [the break],” Smith said. “But hopefully, at least we’re in a good position going into it.”
Featuring the world’s fastest and most unique doorslammer cars with an extremely diverse collection of vehicles, including ’63 Corvettes, ’68 Camaros, ’67 Mustangs, and ’68 Firebirds as well as late-model cars, the Pro Mod Series offers something for every kind of hot-rodding enthusiast.
In addition to Smith, other pre-race favorites in the category include Californian Rowe and Canada’s Kenny Lang. Veteran racers Payne, Troy Coughlin, and Melanie Troxel also will be in the hunt. Others to watch include Roger Burgess, Ray Commisso, Burton Auxier, Mike Knowles, and Ed Hoover.
• SCHEDULE: Pro Mod qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4 and 6:30 p.m. June 25, and the final qualifying session is set for 11 a.m. June 26. The first round of eliminations will begin June 26 at 2 p.m. Eliminations will continue June 27 at approximately 1 p.m.
• TICKETS: For tickets for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, call Summit Motorsports Park, 419-668-5555, or log on to www.tix.com.
• ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise 30 minutes of racing highlights from the Pro Mod portion of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals Sunday, July 11, at 11:30 a.m. ET.