For the third time in four years, the NHRA world championship in Pro Stock Motorcycle was decided by a single-digit margin when rookie rider L.E. Tonglet won the championship by just four points over Andrew Hines, who had lost the 2007 title by just six points.
At the penultimate event in Las Vegas, Tonglet scored the fifth win of his freshman season which, combined with Hines’ semifinal loss, closed the gap to just 34 points, setting up an epic showdown between the rookie and the three-time champion at the season finale in Pomona.
Against all odds, Hines fouled in round one — as he had done in round two to cost himself the 2007 championship — opening the door for Tonglet to complete his miracle season.
Tonglet, aboard his NitroFish Suzuki, didn’t disappoint as he topped Matt Guidera in the opening round and then locked up the title with a clutch .007 reaction time in his quarterfinal win over Steve Johnson. Ironically, Tonglet never led the points until the final day of the season and topped the standings by a scant four points.
Tonglet became just the third rookie to win a Pro championship (Frank Hawley, 1982; Gary Scelzi, 1997) and the sport’s youngest champ at 20 years, 11 months. Not surprisingly, Tonglet was also voted NHRA Rookie of the Year.
“I’m still trying to believe that it actually happened,” said Tonglet. “It still seems like a dream to me. We always felt like we had a good bike, and my dad and my brother do a great job tuning it. We just never thought anything like this would happen to us.”
1. L.E. Tonglet: 2,681
2. Andrew Hines: 2,677
3. Eddie Krawiec: 2,559
|CLOSEST FINISHES IN NHRA HISTORY|
Hector Arana Sr.