A lengthy break in the schedule in the FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by D-Wagon might have been just what Lyle Barnett needed. The standout driver suffered back-to-back first-round losses, dropping him from second to fourth in the points standings heading into the extended layoff.
But teams have had seven weeks off since the last race, giving Barnett and his team plenty of time to get things back in order on his turbocharged Elite HP Camaro as the class returns during this weekend’s Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor at Heartland Motorsports Park.
After winning two of the final three races to end the 2021 season in NHRA Pro Mod, Barnett had big hopes this year and he hopes some of that success starts to come his way at Topeka’s House of Speed this weekend.
“We had to shake off whatever was ailing us,” Barnett said. “We’ve had a little string of bad luck. In Norwalk, we didn’t make the run we should have in the first round (against points leader Kris Thorne), and he got us. We should have won the four-wide race in Charlotte and I didn’t get the job done on the starting line like I usually do. We’ve had almost two months off to shake some of that off and we’ve just kept our nose down and continued to grind.”
The race, which is the fifth of 10 events during the 2022 season in the FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by D-Wagon, is powered by M&M Transmission, which is known for its championship-winning and record-setting transmissions and torque converters. It’s a top choice for Jose Gonzalez and Stevie “Fast” Jackson, who are the last two world title winners in the class, as well as points leader Thorne, Sidnei Frigo, Justin Bond, and Barnett.
“Topeka is our home track, so it was a natural decision to support our NHRA Pro Mod racers and customers,” M&M Transmission Owner and CEO Mark Micke said. “Our on-track maintenance services are an extension of our beliefs of delivering reliability and performance to enable the quickest and fastest doorslammers in the world to win and set records.”
Added Barnett: “It’s a racing company led by a race car driver, which is cool. When you think of transmissions and converters, Mark Micke is probably the first person that comes to mind. They have great trackside support and they’re awesome people and we all appreciate it.”
Barnett is focused on a big weekend in Topeka as he aims to get back in championship contention at the halfway point in the 2022 campaign. By winning three of the first four races this season, Thorne has opened up a 107-point lead on multi-time world champ Rickie Smith, with Jackson and Barnett following in the next two spots.
Barnett knows there’s plenty of work to do if running for a championship is in his future this year, but that process starts with a standout performance in Topeka. After the summer break, teams in the FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by D-Wagon now race six times over the next two months to finish the year, and Barnett knows if he gets hot it could make for an interesting finish.
“Kris has had an outstanding season and he’s driven really well, but we’re going to do everything we can to try and catch him,” Barnett said. “At the end of last year we had a string of races close together and we were able to get on a roll. If we can do that again, we can be pretty hard to stop, especially if I do my job on the starting line. I definitely think there’s an opportunity for us to make some strides. But it all starts Friday in Topeka during the first round of qualifying. You have to make a good run in Q1, so we’ll go up there and take a good swing at it.”
The FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by D-Wagon features the world’s fastest doorslammer cars, offering something unique for every drag racing fan. Featuring several different power adders and 250-mph action, the class continues to be a hit with fans.
FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by D-Wagon qualifying will feature two rounds at 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. CT on Friday, Aug. 12, and the final round of qualifying on Saturday, Aug. 13 at 1:15 p.m. The first round of eliminations for Pro Mod are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. CT on Saturday.