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Alex Laughlin holds great hand early in season

Alex Laughlin enters Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals second in points with an opportunity to build on hot start.
05 Apr 2019
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Race coverage
Alex Laughlin

He knows it so well he attributes the quote to somebody well. Alex Laughlin feels most comfortable while uncomfortable. Pro Mod feels like home. Driving a radial car feels like home. A Pro Stock car? Not so much. Grabbing a bull by the horns and enjoying the ride – that’s Laughlin’s preferred method of transportation down a drag strip. 

So, the procedural nature of Pro Stock … well, it’s more challenging. He calls it a driver’s class because knowing what the car will do means it’s especially important to hit shift points and leave on time. That’s not the case in classes where the most important people stand behind the race car – Laughlin’s words, not mine. 

“I think there’s also a balance between how uncomfortable I want to be, right?” He says when asked about driving a Funny Car. “Getting into a Funny Car, where the engine is right in your lap and everything and you’re just packed in there… man, it’s like getting into a coke can with a bomb in your lap. Who wants that?”

He chews on that for a minute. Laughlin drove Top Alcohol Dragster for a year in 2017. He drives Pro Mod, a class that can’t be topped when it comes to wild rides. 

“You know, if someone came to me… I’d probably entertain it,” he says. “I’d at least want to do my licensing runs, so I can say that I did it.” 

Racers love racing. Laughlin once said if all he could sign up to race were mopeds, well, he’d take his Havoline sponsorship over there. That’s just who he is, and while he’s not alone, he’s got the resume to back it up. He raced NHRA Pro Mod for the first time in Gainesville, and despite not making the field, he enjoyed the experience. 

“It’s totally different from the Pro Mod racing I’ve done before,” he said. “It’s so fast and so intense. Just the visibility of going that fast compared to being able to see everything in the dragster … it feels like you’re going 300 mph.”

He won’t be going quite that fast while trying to stay high in the standings in Pro Stock. A final-round appearance in Gainesville has him staked to a second-place spot. That’s a great start after failing to make the Countdown to the Championship a year ago. Laughlin feels ahead of schedule – and for good reason – with only nine races to go before the playoff field is set. He didn’t quite say he’s playing with house money, plenty can go wrong before now and the U.S. Nationals, but the Texan holds a great hand and he’s not folding.