RICKIE SMITH: FORGET PRO MOD, I'M GOING FISHING
Rickie Smith carefully crafted his plan for this weekend's NHRA event in Las Vegas, the final stop of the 2019 NHRA Pro Modified tour, and when the time was right, he executed it.
Smith grabbed his line and his pole and went fishing.
"My nitrous car is absolutely not competitive at Vegas and I'm not chasing a championship, so I just decided to save that money and sit out this one," Smith said.
Smith's Bahrain1 backing is gone, after a parting of ways with Khalid alBalooshi shortly after the NHRA Carolina Nationals.
Smith isn't sweating it, as he says he's already inked a replacement for the lost funds.
"I have a new sponsor for next year, and it'll be announced at the PRI show, be unveiled out there, and the car and all," Smith revealed.
Smith wouldn't go as far as to say his parting of ways with Balooshi, a teammate for many years, is a falling out.
"I just told him Brad Personnett [Balooshi's crewchief] wasn't allowed in my pits, and that's just the way it is," Smith said. "He decided to go with Brad and not me, so that was his choice."
Smith confirmed Balooshi had purchased the turbo Mustang he raced early in the season and leased later on to Justin Bond. He also sold the turbo Camaro Balooshi raced this season to a client overseas.
Right now, Smith is in recharge mode because, as he puts it, this season hasn't been fun at all.
"It's a welcome break," Smith said. " I mean, I've dedicated my life to this thing, dedicated my last four, five years to Balooshi making sure his car was looked after and took care of. When you get done like that by a man, I've never been thrown out of a race for cheating, and he's been thrown out twice this year. So it's pretty hard to swallow when you look out for somebody that hard and thought you were that close a friend.
"He just decided not to go with me, so that's okay. I mean, that's his choice, and I'm rolling on, you know? He'll run good out there because that's a turbo track, for sure. He'll probably be the No. 1 qualifier because the two main turbo cars are not there. Frigo and Jose."
Smith might be beating a dead horse, but he's sticking with the nitrous combination.
"Absolutely. I'll run a nitrous car, and it's up to NHRA to keep the rules right," Smith said. "If they don't, then I'll just park it after next year and be done. I mean, I'm not going to chase all over trying to be competitive. I'm a good nitrous car racer, and the way I feel about it, it's up to NHRA to keep the rules right. If they don't, then just the whole nitrous combination will go away. They'll have all blower-type fields between the turbos and the blowers."
Yes, Smith has had his fill of turbocharged racing in his short 2019 experience. It's taking him a bit of time to get over the latest rule change handed down to the nitrous combination, adding 75 pounds to the minimum weight.
"I wouldn't race another turbo if the man sponsoring me gave me one," Smith said. "I'm a nitrous guy. You got blower guys. You got turbo guys. We all should be able to run what we like and stuff.
"It just seems like every time I'm able to qualify number one; it doesn't take two races 'til they do something where a blower and a turbo car can run all year, almost, or at least six or seven races out of the year till they get the championship sewed up. Then they'll make some kind of rule change. Well, it just doesn't make sense when you can run six months with a rule, and I can only run two races with a rule that I might qualify number one at, and they change it.
"I just wish NHRA would make some better decisions on the nitrous car because they want nitrous cars to come. Well, I guess I'm the only dumb one over there that keeps coming back because everybody else looks at this and sees the way they do me, and they stay away. So I don't know how they expect to get nitrous cars to come when you're not allowed to qualify number one without getting penalties, so until they get a little better mindset on that, I don't think you'll ever get very many nitrous cars to show up."
As Smith sees it, maybe he'll have better luck catching fish this weekend.