Mike Janis has been in this position before, heading to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the points leader in the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service. That was three years ago and, looking back, Janis felt he averted from a plan that had worked so well. This time, Janis isn’t making that same mistake and he’s hopeful it helps him leave this weekend’s 18th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals as a world champion.
On the strength of consistency in the loaded class, Janis holds a 24-point lead over three-time world champion Rickie Smith heading into the final race of the season. It will be a thrilling battle between two veteran standouts to conclude an incredible year in the class, but Janis is determined to not change a thing on his Al-Anabi Performance/Mike Janis Superchargers ’69 Camaro.
“Our mindset is just try to go out and do what we’ve been doing all year,” said Janis, who has five career wins in the class. “We’re going to stick to the gameplan and go out there and try to win the race. In 2015 we tested out there the week before and got kind of lost, and that put us behind the eight-ball. This time, we’re going to stick to what we’ve been doing and go in there guns blazing.”
The race, which is presented by Trask Performance, is the final event of the 2018 E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series season and will be shown on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) and Fox Sports 2 (FS2). Stevie “Fast” Jackson is the defending winner in Vegas. Janis hopes to add his name to the winner’s list at the track and finish his impressive season in style.
The good news is his points lead is a little more than a round advantage over than Smith, who will have his work cut out for himself at the season-finale if a fourth championship is in the cards. But Smith also has three wins this season and a penchant for producing in pressure situations, so Janis knows he will have to be at his best. But with a wealth of experience and success throughout his career, don’t expect Janis to get ruffled by the magnitude of the moment, either.
“We’re staying focused and we’re not going to let anybody get in our heads,” Janis said. “We’ve been doing this a long time, so there’s no tricks that are going to throw us off at this point. We feel like we have a really good car and a really good combination for Vegas. It’s exciting, it’s nerve-wracking, but we’ve got a lot of people supporting us and that’s pretty cool to see.”
Janis estimates upwards of 40 friends and family members near his hometown of Lancaster, N.Y. are making the trip to Vegas, hopeful they can see Janis win his first E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series world championship. He’s gotten to this point with a consistent approach that’s only included one first-round loss in the first 11 races, a remarkable number considering the top-flight competition in the class. Janis won in Richmond and has two finals appearances in 2018, and he knows how much winning a world title against this competition would mean.
“It would really mean a lot,” Janis said. “You’re constantly just trying to keep your head above water in this class and just qualifying is a big deal. As ultra-competitive as it is, winning a championship would be really gratifying and hopefully we can make it happen. Our mindset this year was to come out strong and we’ve done that. We like how our car is running and our goal now is just to go as many rounds as we can.”
Trask Performance is the presenting sponsor for the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series season-finale in Vegas, as the class wraps up a thrilling and historic 2018 campaign. Featuring the world’s fastest doorslammer race cars, the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service offers something for every kind of hot-rodding enthusiast. The class is highlighted by historic muscle cars, like ’67 Mustangs, ’68 Firebirds and ’69 Camaros, as well as a variety of late model American muscle cars.
Founded in 2000, Trask Performance has become a leader in turbo systems for American V-Twin Motorcycles. Trask Performance also has one of the top tuning shops in the nation, manufacturing their own line of high-performance products through Drag Specialties.
“Trask Performance is proud to be the presenting partner of the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Series’ final race of 2018 here in Las Vegas,” said Nick Trask, founder. “The Pro Mod competition has been incredible coming into this final race of the season and this round is bound to be epic! It doesn’t get more exciting than coming down to the last race of the year to see who gets to celebrate winning a world championship. It’s going to be an exciting duel in a class that has delivered great moments all year.”
The first of four E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service qualifying sessions takes place at 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26, and the final two rounds of qualifying take place on Saturday, Oct. 27, at 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-644-4444. Tickets also are available online at www.lvms.com/tickets/nhra/. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate.