When Stevie "Fast" Jackson entered the NHRA E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod series three years ago, it was anything but a publicity stunt. Already the sport’s best drag radial racer, Jackson boldly promised to take the fight to NHRA’s best Pro Mod racers, and made it clear that he’d be satisfied with nothing less than a championship. Jackson has now made good on that promise, wrapping up the title on Monday NTK NHRA Carolina Nationals. Jackson officially locked up the title when he defeated Michael Biehle’s Mustang in the semifinals. Jackson went on to defeat Steven Whiteley in the Pro Mod final.
"I'm not gonna cry. I'm not gonna cry. Okay, I might cry," said an obviously emotional Jackson. "This shows that anyone who works hard can be a champion. This is also for all those people who said we couldn't do it. We did it. This all started in a hospital bed in 2018 after I crashed here [in the final round of the Four-Wide race]. Sheikh Abdullah [Bahrain1 team owner] said we were going to put together a team to go after the championship and that's what we've done."
Driving his supercharged Camaro for the Bahrain1 team, Jackson’s 2019 season began on a solid note with a runner-up finish at the 50th annual Gatornationals. He qualified No. 1 and went to the final where he set the record with a 5.64, but lost on a holeshot against Todd Tutterow’s 5.66. Jackson quickly recovered to earn his first win of the season a couple weeks later at Houston Raceway Park. Jackson against raced Tutterow in the final and quickly made amends for his loss in Gainesville. He emerged from Houston as the points leader and has never trailed. Jackson went on to win the Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals in Topeka and also padded his score with runner-up finishes in Richmond and St. Louis.
In his 34 racers in NHRA competition, Jackson has won seven times, but none of them were as meaningful as his Topeka victory last June. Jackson defeated Clint Satterfield’s turbocharged entry in the final to extend his points lead. The win came just days after Billy Stocklin, Jackson’s longtime crew chief, lost his father William.
“Rarely in life do we get an opportunity to positively and truly affect someone close to us,” Jackson said. “Billy was extremely close to his father and watching him go through the emotional rollercoaster over the last week, I knew this would be important to him coming off such a tragedy in his life. We never talked about winning the race until after it was over, but we both knew how important it was. I looked at Billy on Sunday and told him, ‘Nobody is going to leave on me today.’ It was very emotional for him and me. I hope that’s something he’s always going to remember.”
Jackson struggled at times during the season with a quarterfinal loss in Bristol. He also suffered a disappointing loss in the opening round of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals with a rare red-light start. That could have been a costly error but the damage was minimized when Tutterow lost a round later. Jackson put the title nearly out of reach after his runner-up finish at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals in St. Louis. At that event, Jackson took matters into his own hands when he stopped reigning champ Mike Janis in the second round and then landed a knockout punch to Tutterow in the semifinals.
Jackson and the rest of the NHRA Pro Mod teams will head to Las Vegas in two weeks for the dodge NHRA Las Vegas Nationals, the final event of the 2019 season.