The second half of the NHRA Pro Mod Series presented by ProCare Rx officially begins at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, July 5-8, and the battle for the championship will come more into focus as the season heads down the stretch run.
So far, victory lane has been dominated by three racers in the first five events. Rickie Smith raced to victory in the opening race in Gainesville as well as the most recent event in Bristol. Mike Castellana won the second race of the year and Danny Rowe secured back-to-back wins at Houston and Englishtown. Both Smith and Rowe are proud of what their teams have accomplished and are thrilled with the results.
“I would say the first part of the year has been real good,” Smith stated. “You can’t win them all, so we got off to a pretty good start. Winning two of the first five isn't too shabby.”
“This has been our best to start of the season since our team has been together,” Rowe said. “I’m very proud of all the hard work that [crew chief] Jimmy Rector and the whole crew put in over the winter months to give us the great start to the season. I think every racer feels that they have a chance to win at any event, but we realize how many things that have to come together to make that happen. You need a little luck and a lot of hard work.”
When the competitors in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx roll to the starting line in qualifying or eliminations the teams and racers know the smallest issue can make the biggest difference. An extra pound of air pressure can make a car rocket to the No. 1 qualifying position and a loose bolt can cause tire shake at the hit of the throttle. Each of the season winners are aware of this and can point to differing factors for their success.
“It takes a whole team to be doing things right," Rowe explained. "Jimmy and the crew have given me and (teammate) Donnie Martin great race cars. We need to keep focused on each round whether it is in qualifying or in eliminations.”
Said Smith: “The engine is more consistent and we have just been paying more attention to detail.”
Rowe has raced in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx since its inception in 2010 and has twice finished second in the championship standings. He has played the role of the hunter but in the back half of 2012 he will be the one the racers are gunning for.
“This is the first time we have been in the lead of the points," Rowe said. "I know how hard it is to be chasing someone for the points. I think as the hunted we have to keep doing our jobs and looking to do well at each race and the points will take care of themselves.”
Rowe, Smith and Castellana are bunched at the top of the points standing with Leah Pruett lurking in fourth. As the season moves toward the final race in Las Vegas, Rowe and Smith are keeping a close eye on the rest of the field in the ultra-competitive category.
“There are a lot of great teams out there and you cannot count anybody out,” Rowe said. “Last year you saw the turbo cars make a late chase and I think this year it is going to be the same. That being said, Rickie and Mike are not going to make this easy. They are both great racers. I think it is going to be a great race to the finals. There is going to be a lot of close racing, which will make this one of the most exciting years in the category.”
“Everything is going to be closer," Smith said. "The terrible cars are starting to figure their stuff out and run better; Troy Coughlin is an example of that. Rowe is starting to run better. It will be tighter between the whole field.”
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