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Inaugural D-Wagon Pro Mod Shootout goes to Kris Thorne

Pro Mod points leader Kris Thorne continues his dominant season with a convincing victory over Steve Jackson in the D-Wagon Pro Mod Shootout.
20 Aug 2022
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
Race coverage
Kris Thorne

As he continues to pursue the season championship in the FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Series, Kris Thorne took a slight detour in Brainerd, where he picked up the top prize in the $25,000 D-Wagon Pro Mod Shootout, a special event featuring the best cars and drivers in the class. Thorne went to the final where he faced off with multi-time champion Steve Jackson. The race was close at the start, but Jackson faded after his Bahrain1 Camaro got loose at half-track. Thorne soldiered on to post a 5.762 at 250.88 mph to collect the lion’s share of the cash.

“First, we have to give a big thanks to D-Wagon for putting this event on and taking care of us Pro Mod racers,” said Thorne. “I was lucky today. We qualified No. 1 and won the Shootout. Now, I just need to take the money home on Sunday and we’ll be really fortunate. So far, everything has gone to plan. My team did a great job of keeping the car on track and giving me a car capable of winning. I honestly never saw Stevie in the final. I just tried to stick to my game plan.”

Any race featuring 250-mph Pro Mods figures to be wild, but the D-Wagon Showdown took entertainment to a whole different level when competitors decided to abandon the traditional qualifying format in favor of a chip draw, which determined the pairings for each round. The format is similar to what NHRA is using for the Pep Boys All-Star Callout races for Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers and it’s proven to be a hit with fans, who appreciate the air of unpredictability that goes with it.

The unique format meant that Thorne didn’t’ know who he’d be racing until it was almost time to race but that didn’t matter as he easily outperformed each of his opponents with a string of 5.7-second runs. Thorne stopped former Top Fuel driver Khalid alBalooshi in round one and then set low elapsed time of the event in round two with a 5.725 against Mike Theilen. Thorne moved into the final by beating Justin Bond, 5.739 to 5.811.

Since the Pro Mod class is filled with colorful personalities, there was plenty of trash talking both in person and via social media throughout the event, but Thorne was perhaps the least vocal of the group. He simply sat back and enjoyed the show, while winning round after round.

“I like to think I was the one guy who was silent but deadly,” said Thorne. “I just show up and race and try to stay out of all of that, but it was absolutely a different event. It was phenomenal. Now, I can focus on the championship tomorrow. We have a very small lead against Rickie [Smith] and I need to somehow figure out a way to get Rickie out of here early. To win on Sunday would be awesome.”