- Smith takes the alternative route to the
|Von Smith captured his first-ever AMS
Pro Modified Challenge event title by stopping Rickie Smith
in the finals.
(10-12-2003) - Sometimes
qualifying isn’t that important after all. At least that’s
what Von Smith was led to believe after an impressive victory at
the NHRA O’Reilly Fall Nationals in Dallas, Texas, the ninth
stop on the ten-race AMS Pro Modified Challenge tour.
When the sixth qualifier Kirk Kuhns announced that he was through
following qualifying, that opened the door for points leaders Fred
Hahn and Jim Oddy to get into the show. Since an alternate is not
allowed to gain points, the Summit-sponsored team decided to withdraw
their status. Al Billes was next in line and had already departed
for Canada. It just so happened that Smith hadn’t left and
was the next choice.
Smith made new car owner Tommy Lipar and former owner Roy Hill
smile proud as he pushed the supercharged Mustang to the victory.
“The outhouse to the penthouse scenario certainly applies
here,” explained Smith. “We were already loaded up and
ready to go when they came and told us that we could run if we wanted
to. Howard (Moon), my crewchief, told me that we would go back to
our original program after we found a small problem that we’d
be just fine. He was exactly right.”
|Smith fought problems throughout qualifying,
but was on the money for Sunday's eliminations.
Smith felt like one of the AMS Pro Modified Challenge fraternity
by failing to qualify at least one race this season. No driver in
the top ten of points has qualified for every event this year.
“This was an abbreviated season for us,” explained
Smith, who joined the team at Indy. “This whole team has gelled
so fast…that it borders on amazing. It has been great and
everyone is happy to be here.”
Smith took advantage of the second chance to win his first-ever
AMS Pro Modified Challenge title over Rickie Smith. The two met
last month in the finals of the NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in
The eventual champion Smith encountered a frustrating outing in
qualifying. The former alcohol Funny Car champion couldn’t
make the 6.308 bubble after producing a 6.323, 227.04 best. He failed
to improve on Saturday in both sessions.
|Thomas Patterson lost to alternates in
both the AMS Pro Modified Shootout and Sunday's eliminations.
In the first round, Smith found the right direction with the Howard
Moon-tuned entry and took Shannon Jenkins to the woodshed with low
elapsed time of the event with a 6.219, 230.94. Jenkins posted a
losing 6.251, 222.99. The impressive part of the match was that
the two were glued side-by-side at the 1000-foot mark.
Smith remained lightning-quick on the tree as he laid down a .02
light and coupled it with a 6.256, 229.76 to take out Thomas Patterson.
Patterson lost with a 6.275, 226.35.
The “other” Smith, Rickie, was the man to beat all
weekend in qualifying. Smith, the veteran doorslammer racer from
King, NC, led the field into eliminations with a 6.243, 225.67.
Rickie opened with a convincing win over Scott Ray with a 6.245,
224.66. That paved the way for the quickest lap of the second round,
a 6.237, 224.88 to stop Tim McAmis.
In the final round, Von nailed the tree on Rickie with a .019 reaction
and that proved to be the difference as he fended off the quicker
nitrous car with a 6.258, 229.29. Rickie lost despite a 6.241, 225.33.
One race remains on the 2003 AMS Pro Modified Challenge tour and
it will take place in two weeks at Las Vegas.
SUNDAY NOTES - Line-loc
Blues for Ashley, Jenkins speaks and Alternaphobia for Patterson
|Mike Ashley had more than his share of
problems with a faulty line-loc.
(10-12-2003) - Cool
weather – While most of the weekend has been somewhat
warm and humid, Sunday’s eliminations were greeted with cloudy
and overcast conditions. Interestingly enough, the same thing happened
Line-Loc Blues – Mike Ashley experienced
the kind of weekend that wouldn’t be good for line-loc sales.
In the first round of the AMS Pro Modified Shootout, Ashley suffered
failure of the $20 part. As fate would have it, the same thing happened
in Sunday’s first round of eliminations. Both resulted in
Quote of the weekend – Shannon Jenkins,
after being side-by-side at the 1,000-foot mark with first round
opponent Von Smith. “He got on a bus and got out of here.
That’s just pure power. They say we have an advantage with
the nitrous cars. That’s just pure S – H…well
I think you can spell the rest of it.” In the last three hundred
feet, Smith added .04 and won the mile per hour battle 230 –
Alternative wording – Thomas Patterson hates
the word “alternate” and after this weekend, one can
easily see why. In the first round of the AMS Pro Modified Shootout,
the Houston, Texas-based driver lost to Shannon Jenkins, who was
inserted to the eight-car show. His Sunday eliminations ended at
the hands of Von Smith, who got in for Kirk Kuhns.
Rickie and Roy at it again – In the late-Seventies
and early-Eighties, Rickie Smith and Roy Hill did battle in mountain
motor Pro Stock competition. This year has renewed that rivalry,
although in a different manner. Hill owned a Pro Modified team driven
by Von Smith up until this weekend. Smith has been an independent
Pro Modified runner since the late-1990s. Their teams met in the
finals for the second time this year.
SATURDAY - Rickie
Smith retains top spot; Mitch Stott brings home the loot in AMS
Pro Modified Shootout
|Mitch Stott pocketed $10,000 by stopping
Mitch Stott in the final round of the AMS Pro Modified Shootout.
(10-11-2003) - Rickie Smith may enter Sunday’s
final eliminations as the top qualified AMS Pro Modified entry at
the NHRA O’Reilly Fall Nationals, but fellow North Carolina
native Mitch Stott will be leaving with a larger wad of cash in
his pocket. The interesting thing is that the Radiac-sponsored Stott
failed to qualify for Sunday’s eliminations.
Stott defeated Shannon Jenkins in the finals of the $10,000-to-win
AMS Pro Modified Shootout, a special race-within-a-race for the
best eight qualifying points earners throughout the season.
As Stott will attest, a tricky track, less than favorable atmospheric
conditions and a determined nitrous contingent made his day anything
“We fought this thing all weekend,” explained Stott.
“Our computer didn’t work on the first run and we lost
all of our data. The second run only gave us one second to tune
off of. I have to give credit to Jimmy Rector and my crew. They
put everything together and made it work.
“Of course, the good Lord above helped out too.”
|Rickie Smith retained the top spot headed
into final eliminations.
Stott got off to a shaky start by pedaling to a 6.484 to fend off
Smith in the first round. He also successfully navigated the quarter-mile
with a 6.394, 225.96 to eliminate Al Billes.
In the final round of eliminations, Stott saved his best run for
last with a 6.276, 226 to get by the noble effort of Jenkins, who
laid down a 6.316, 221.94.
Jenkins appeared to be the dominant car all day despite behind-the-scenes
engine problems that dogged the team. In the first session, teammate
Mike Castellana nipped a piston which required the team’s
full attention to repair in between sessions.
It didn’t affect Jenkins who stopped chassis builder Tim
McAmis and then Thomas Patterson the quickest qualified supercharged
In stopping Patterson, Jenkins wounded his motor and made the change
prior to the final.
“I guess it just goes with the territory,” explained
Jenkins. “We got behind the eight ball early in the day. We
hurt the good motor earlier in the day. We put our good motor in
and even though we still lost, we still put in a good lap.”
Just how tough was this day of qualifying? If actions speak louder
than words, one driver was able to crack the 6.308 bubble.
The fortunate driver was Tim McAmis, the top-ranked AMS Pro Modified
Shootout points earner, who lost the battle but won the war. In
the first round of the Shootout despite losing to Jenkins, McAmis
gained a place in the field with a 6.294, 225.11. He leapt into
the fifth spot.
McAmis’ fortune proved to be Fred Hahn’s misfortune
as his 6.308 best was relegated to the 9th spot. This marks the
second consecutive event that the Summit-sponsored team missed the
Von Smith, recent Memphis runner-up, also missed the cut in Roy
Nineteen entries made the trek to Dallas.
First-round pairings for eliminations Sunday for the NHRA AMS
Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge, an exhibition class, being held
as part of the 18th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by
Castrol Syntec at Texas Motorplex. Pairings based on results in
qualifying, which ended Saturday.
1. Rickie Smith, Chevy Corvette, 6.243, 225.67 vs. 8. Scott Ray,
Corvette, 6.304, 222.66; 2. Shannon Jenkins, Chevy Camaro, 6.256,
224.71 vs. 7. Kirk Kuhns, Corvette, 6.303, 224.66; 3. Thomas Patterson,
Willys, 6.271, 226.18 vs. 6. Mike Castellana, Camaro, 6.297, 221.45;
4. Mike Ashley, Willys, 6.292, 224.38 vs. 5. Tim McAmis, Corvette,
Saturday Notes - Sacrifices being
made, Roy Hill sells team and Hemis are having a hard time on Saturday
|Mike Castellana was willing to sacrifice
a qualifying session for his teammate Shannon Jenkins.
(9-11-2003) - Sacrificing for the team –
Both Shannon Jenkins and Mike Castellana earned a place into the
eight-car field on Friday. However, in the midst of making the second
quickest lap on the first day of qualifications, the defending World
Champion damaged an axle bearing seal. Since Jenkins was qualified
in the show, Castellana offered the one off of his nearly identical
’68 Camaro so his driver/teammate could participate in the
AMS Pro Modified Shootout. Another part was ordered from a parts
place and if it doesn’t arrive in time for the first session,
Castellana would have had to sit out the session. The interesting
thing about the scenario is that Jenkins got into the AMS Shootout
as an alternate when Quain Stott failed to arrive in Dallas. Castellana
was the second alternate. He might have fared better by sitting
out the round. Castellana nipped a piston on what could have been
a low-6.2-second run.
|Bill Hill has found a new style blower
that should help peak horsepower efficiency.
Hill Team Sold – Roy Hill confirmed that
his complete Pro Modified team has been sold to Texas businessman
Tom Lipar, an associate sponsor on the team. Hill has ordered two
Jerry Haas cars and a new trailer from Elite for his own team. The
new operation of Lipar's will compete in Pro Modified.
Hemis huffing – Entering the final session
only one of eight qualifiers of the supercharged Hemi persuasion
were in the field. According to two different tuners, the atmospheric
conditions prevalent in the last three sessions have not been favorable
at all. The Hemi of Kirk Kuhns was the only one to qualify for Sunday’s
Shootout shortcomings – Three of the five
participants in the AMS Pro Modified Shootout failed to make the
show – Fred Hahn, Al Billes and Mitch Stott.
The twos have it – Sometimes the number
two can be headed in opposite directions. Dallas marked the second
consecutive event that points leader Fred Hahn failed to qualify.
It also marked the second consecutive time that Scott Ray has qualified
at NHRA AMS Pro Modified Challenge events. Last year’s defending
champion Mike Ashley starts tomorrow’s eliminations two spots
higher at fourth.
FRIDAY - Smith leads first-day
AMS Pro Modified Challenge qualifying
|Rickie Smith was Friday's low qualifier.
(10-10-2003) - Rickie Smith made sure that he
let the competition know that he has every intention of gunning
for the $10,000 purse offered for the winner of the AMS Pro Modified
Shootout during the NHRA O’Reilly Fall Nationals in Dallas,
Texas. Though Friday only marked the first day of qualifications
for the ninth stop on the ten-race AMS Pro Modified Challenge tour,
the King, NC.-based driver on clearly on his game with a 6.243,
Smith is gunning to be the first nitrous car to pace an AMS Pro
Modified Challenge field this year.
The nitrous cars were certainly negotiating from a position of
power as Shannon Jenkins led the first session and concluded the
second as the runner-up to Smith in provisional qualifying with
a 6.256, 224.71,
A pair of supercharged 1941 Willys coupes landed in the third and
fourth spots. Home state favorite Thomas Patterson of Houston, was
the quickest supercharged doorslammer at the Texas Motorplex with
a 6.287, 225.73. His run edged out New York mortgage banker Mike
Ashley, who was fourth with a 6.292, 224.38. Ironically, the two
meet in the first round of the AMS Pro Modified Shootout.
Mike Castellana paced the second half of the field with a 6.297,
221.45 in his nitrous-injected Camaro. Castellana ascended as high
as third after the first session.
Kirk Kuhns made his return to AMS Pro Modified Challenge competition
a memorable one as he pushed Dennis Radford’s second team
Viper to a 6.303, 224.66, which barely edged out Scott Ray’s
Fred Hahn holds down the bubble with a 6.308, 225.16.
The DNQ list is dotted with such names as Von Smith, Tim McAmis
and Mitch Stott.
Results Friday after qualifying for the AMS Staff Leasing Pro
Mod Challenge, an NHRA exhibition class, being run as part of the
18th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec
at the Texas Motorplex. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday's
Pro Modified -- 1. Rickie Smith, Chevy Corvette,
6.243, 225.67; 2. Shannon Jenkins, Chevy Camaro, 6.256, 224.71;
3. Thomas Patterson, Willys, 6.287, 225.73; 4. Mike Ashley, Willys,
6.292, 224.38; 5. Mike Castellana, Camaro, 6.297, 221.45; 6. Kirk
Kuhns, Corvette, 6.303, 224.66; 7. Scott Ray, Corvette, 6.304, 222.66;
8. Fred Hahn, Corvette, 6.308, 225.16; 9. Von Smith, Ford Mustang,
6.323, 227.04; 10. Tim McAmis, Corvette, 6.325, 225.11; 11. Frankie
Taylor, Corvette, 6.331, 222.11; 12. Mitch Stott, Corvette, 6.343,
225.00; 13. Dennis Radford, Dodge Viper, 6.381, 220.91; 14. Al Billes,
Studebaker, 6.391, 222.16; 15. Wayne Torkelson, Ford Thunderbird,
6.413, 217.97; 16. Bill Hill, Corvette, 6.449, 216.29; 17. Danny
Rowe, Chevrolet, 6.452, 212.86; 18. Marty Mcginnis, Chevrolet, 6.536,
215.93; 19. Troy Critchley, Corvette, 6.682, 208.38.
Friday Notes - Double-up bonus offered, DNQ list looks very interesting
Double-Dipping – On Saturday, Pro Mod's
best will compete for the AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Shootout title,
a special race-within-a-race. With a winner take all top prize of
$10,000, the purse just got bigger, when Nowling Motorsports Management
(NMM) posted a $5,000 double-up bonus. If one of the eight drivers
- Tim McAmis, Fred Hahn, Mitch Stott, Mike Ashley, Thomas Patterson,
Rickie Smith, Al Billes and Shannon Jenkins - wins the Shootout,
then captures the NHRA AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge, an NHRA
exhibition class competing this weekend as part of the NHRA O'Reilly
Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec at the Texas Motorplex,
he will take home an additional $5,000 from NMM.
"Nowling Motorsports Management has grown because of it association
with Pro Mod drivers and the AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge,"
said Kenny Nowling, president of NMM, "and this is my opportunity
to give something back to the Pro Mod racing community. Hopefully,
one of the eight drivers in the AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Shootout
will leave the Texas Motorplex this weekend with an extra five thousand
dollars in his pocket. "
Ashley reliving memories – It was all in
a weekend’s work for New York mortgage banker Mike Ashley
during last year’s AMS Pro Modified Challenge. On Friday,
Ashley announced a major sponsorship with InfiNet Insurance and
Financial, a nationwide company based in Irving, Texas. Two days
later, he captured his first national event victory since 1990.
This year, he’s hoping for similar results and he has certainly
started on the same path. On the first day of qualifying, Ashley
and InfiNet announced sponsorship of Pro Stock Motorcycle racer
Lloyd Straus for the 2004 season.
Jenkins gets in as alternate for AMS Shootout –
When Quain Stott failed to show for this weekend’s event at
the Texas Motorplex, it opened the door for defending World Champion
Shannon Jenkins to get into the program. Jenkins was gunning for
a berth at the previous event in Memphis, but fell one position
short. He had to qualify second or better to earn his way in. He
landed in the fourth spot. It didn’t hurt his feelings in
the least because he went on to win the event. Winning the AMS Staff
Leasing Shootout would be a step in the right direction for Jenkins,
who has yet to win a round of competition at the Texas Motorplex.
Nitrous cars lead early – After the first
session, it was a nitrous field day as three of the top four qualifiers
after the first session were prominent members of the bottle brigade.
Jenkins took advantage of the supercharged cars’ reluctance
to be aggressive of the first session and vaulted to the top of
the qualifying list with a 6.270, 223.38. Indy winner Rickie Smith
slipped into second with a 6.296 and St. Louis champion Mike Castellana
was third with a 6.326. Von Smith was the quickest of the blown
entries with a 6.379. The entire second half of the show was comprised
of blown entries.
Kuhns back in action – Kirk Kuhns, who reached
the finals of the first-ever NHRA Pro Modified event back in 2001
at Gainesville, Fla., is back in action this weekend. After a highly
rumored partnership with Brad Anderson never came to fruition, Kuhns
joined Oregon-based Pro Modified racer Dennis Radford to field a
new supercharged, Dodge Viper Pro Modified. According to Kuhns,
Radford had approached him earlier in the year, but due to his commitment
to Anderson, he was unable to pursue the venture. When the opportunity
presented itself recently, Kuhn’s jumped at the opportunity.
Piloting the aerodynamic Viper is something that excites the Yorba
Linda, Ca.-based driver. Kuhns added, “Dennis owns the car,
but he lets me make the decisions on tuning and all. This is the
best car I’ve ever driven. It can lay down some fast speeds,
Second-half parity – The first session indicated
that most of the supercharged cars were thinking along the same
lines. Only .009 separated fourth from eighth ranging from Thomas
Patterson’s 6.367 to Tim McAmis’ 6.379. By the end of
the second session, the spread decreased to .003.
Shootout Pressure – Not only do three of
the combatants for the AMS Pro Modified Shootout have to worry about
the task of beating the other drivers in the $10,000-to-win special
program, they also have to worry about making the show. Tim McAmis
(10th), Mitch Stott (12th) and Al Billes (14th) are unqualified
after the first day.