Back with the team he enjoyed so much success with during the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, LE Tonglet is looking forward to putting on another show at this weekend’s NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway.
The former Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion announced earlier this week he was returning to the White Alligator Racing team owned by 2016 world champ Jerry Savoie, hoping to recreate the magic and success that led to six wins a year ago. The first of those started in Charlotte, where Tonglet thrived in the thrilling four-wide racing set-up on his KPK/Nitrofish Suzuki. He has long enjoyed the unique and exciting race, and expects continued success this weekend.
“I usually do pretty good at the four-wide event and last year was the first time we were able to win it, so I feel very confident that we're going to go out there and win it again,” said Tonglet, who finished third in points in 2017. “I try not to think of it as any different than any other race. We just go out there and do the same thing at every track, and that's win. Charlotte is one of those where I did it, so we just want to try to go out there and repeat like we did last year."
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Chris McGaha (Pro Stock), and Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of a race that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including a broadcast of the finals on Sunday, April 29 at 6:00 p.m. (ET). The event is one of the biggest spectacles in drag racing, and marks the second of 16 events in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Tonglet heads to Charlotte reinvigorated after joining back up with Savoie. That tandem won a combined eight races in 2017, with Tonglet looking to regroup after qualifying 15th and losing in the first round to defending world champ Eddie Krawiec, who went on to win the season-opening race in the class at Gainesville. Back with the White Alligator Racing team, Tonglet feels that success will happen, as the bike will be set-up exactly like it was a season ago when he enjoyed plenty of success.
"It's a huge relief having Tim (Kulungian) as crew chief and Jerry as a teammate," Tonglet said. "We all push each other to be better riders. Tim sets up the bike, and it's always fast. We don't have anything to worry about besides riding, and it's going to be a lot of fun. My dad will be there like last year when he was lining me up, and (brother) G.T. will be coming to a lot of the races."
Tonglet found the winning formula at zMAX Dragway a season ago, performing well on the starting line en route to the victory. He’ll face off against 20 other talented riders this time, including Andrew Hines, Hector Arana Jr., Scotty Pollacheck and three-time world champion Angelle Sampey, but the 2010 world champion is confident in what he will be able to accomplish at the fan-favorite race.
"The biggest thing is staying level-headed because on the starting line, it can get pretty hectic,” said Tonglet, who has 16 career victories. “People can get confused very easily. We have to thank Scott Pollacheck last year for helping give us that win because we threw the two Harley guys (Hines & Krawiec) off. You've just got to keep your head on straight."
Defending Top Fuel event winner Steve Torrence has two wins in 2018, and shares the points lead with Tony Schumacher. Others to watch include defending world champion and Houston winner Brittany Force, three-time world champ Antron Brown and Pomona winner Doug Kalitta.
Ron Capps is after his first Funny Car win in 2018 against a lineup that includes J.R. Todd, who has won two straight races, points leader Jack Beckman and defending world champ Robert Hight.
Chris McGaha already has a 2018 win in Pro Stock, trailing points leader and defending champ Bo Butner. Others to watch include 2018 winners Matt Hartford, Tanner Gray and Vincent Nobile.
The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service makes the third of 12 stops in 2018 at zMAX Dragway. Mike Castellana is the defending winner in the Pro Mod class, which made its four-wide racing debut last year. The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, showcasing the future stars of the sport.
Those in attendance will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with a few of the most renowned names in drag racing during the NHRA Legends Tour. This will feature meet-and-greets, autograph sessions, and a variety of other activities. Legends scheduled to attend the NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals include Shirley Muldowney, Buddy Martin and Bobby Warren.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:00 and 6:30 p.m. on Friday, April 27 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, April 28, at 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12 p.m. on Sunday, April 29.
To purchase general admission or reserved seats for the NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, please visit www.zMAXDragway.com or call the box office at (800) 455-FANS (3267). Tickets for children 13 and under are free with any paid adult ticket.