One of drag racing’s most versatile and skilled drivers notches another major score….

Former world champion and Middle-eastern native Khalid alBalooshi raced to his first victory of the 2019 season during E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service portion of the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals held in Ohio.

In the final round against Caribbean-based racer Jose Gonzalez, who won the previous weekend in Bristol, alBalooshi powered to a run of 5.765-seconds at 259.01 mph in his turbocharged Bahrain 1 Racing Camaro to beat Gonzalez’s 5.801 at 258.81.

It marks the second win in Norwalk for alBalooshi, with his first coming in Top Fuel. The victory was the fifth in alBalooshi’s standout Pro Mod career — he also had two event wins while racing for the Al-Anabi Top Fuel dragster team.

Khalid alBalooshi is making good on his just recent switch to turbo cars — he was a winner at NHRA Norwalk.

“The big thing for me today was when I won the first round,” alBalooshi said. “When I got to the second round, I thought the door was open for us. We’ve been struggling a lot, but I feel like we’re heading in the right direction now. When I got to the final round, I just kept telling myself I needed to win a race. This was a way different feeling for me, but I’m just happy I got the win.”

alBalooshi picked up win lights against three very formidable opponents — Todd Tutterow, No. 1 qualifier Mike Castellana and three-time world champion Rickie Smith to reach the final round.

For the second race in a row – Jose Gonzalez — went to the championship round.

Gonzalez racing his Q80 Camaro had beat Doug Winters, Brandon Snider and points leader Stevie “Fast” Jackson to reach his second straight final round and fifth in his career.

The event was a swift program that included a quick bump spot of 5.790 secs set by Canadian driver Justin Bond who drove the Rickie Smith turbocharged Mustang at the event.

Mike Castellana was the #1 qualifier — setting low ET at 5.701 secs.

Mike Castellana set low ET of the race during qualifying with a 5.701 secs run in the AAP Chevy Camaro and Erica Enders was credited with a new national record setting 261.22 mph for top speed.  Erica’s fast run did come with a heavy cost however as her Elite Motorsports Camaro burst into flames in the shutdown area after that run (during the 4th session). Thankfully Erica was not injured however her car was badly damaged and withdrawn from further completion.

That situation did allow for Canadian Eric Latino to be inserted into the field for Sunday as an alternate however Eric’s fast improving GESI Camaro was eliminated in round one by Mike Janis by a 5.789 secs to 5.819 secs count.

GTA-based racer Eric Latino just missed qualifying — but then got inserted into eliminations as the first alternate.

Justin Bond (from Mission BC) was a second Canadian in class competition at the event. Justin took some trips in the Rickie Smith turbocharged Mustang and qualified on the bump.

The Norwalk race which was presented by Plochman’s Mustard marked the 8th of 12 races for the 2019 NHRA Pro Mod season. The class does now takes a summer break — with action not scheduled to resume until during the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Aug. 28-Sept. 2 at Lucas Oil Raceway Park at Indy.

Posted with files by NHRA Communications and Bruce Biegler
Photos by Bruce Biegler & Steve Embling

To view additional Pro Mod class photos from this race click on the LMLCMedia event gallery: HERE