Todd Tutterow side-swiped Steven Whiteley during eliminations at the Menard’s NHRA Heartland Nationals in his 1968 Camaro. The driver of the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod machine got out of the groove early in his run and, at that point, the run became one of survival. The heavily modified Chevy reminded its audience who ran the show; surprise, surprise, it’s the machine with thousands of horses under the hood.
Both Whiteley and Tutterow walked away from the incident with little more than hurt feelings. That’s a testament to excellent safety equipment and good fortune. And then we look at the equipment. Yes, equipment that can be replaced given enough time – time; something so very much not on Tutterow’s side as the Pro Mod season winds down and Stevie “Fast” Jackson wins as if he got drafted by the Capco Contractors team overnight.
Tutterow left Topeka second to Jackson by nearly 100 points. That’s not insurmountable with six races left on the schedule and, well, Pro Mod being what it is. Then there’s the matter of Tutterow’s junked race car to consider. Six days separate Tutterow’s crash in Topeka and the first day of qualifying at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol; it would take a super-human effort to even think about repairing his Al-Anabi Performance Pro Mod by then.
Regardless of what car Tutterow shows up with in Bristol (he apparently has a back-up car), we know it won’t be the same car that took him to second in the Pro Mod standings. That’s not how racing works. Even if the exceptional team that Tutterow is part of repairs the chassis and body (the actual extent of the damage is not currently known) it won’t ever be the same. Still, Tutterow may be able to come back from this if only because the team was good enough to get him to such a lofty place to begin with.
Here’s where he came from: A car that got down the track nearly 92 percent of the time. That’s in Pro Mod, a series that may not be as volatile as Funny Car, but damn it’s close. His Camaro also averaged an elapsed time of 5.771-seconds, the second quickest in the category behind only Jackson. Tutterow averages the fourth-best reaction times in the category (.0362), and the category leader (Sidnei Frigo) is only .02-second better.
That’s all to say that while this is a devastating blow to Tutterow, and it is, he absolutely has an opportunity to come back. He can’t afford to miss races and he can’t afford to DNQ (because, frankly, no one can the way Jackson is racking up points) but if the team puts another strong car together… he can make a run at his first NHRA Pro Mod championship. After what he went through in Topeka, that would be one hell of a story.
And yes, I fully expect Jackson to have a thing or two to say about that before this is all said and done.