NHRA’s E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod Series is a wrap after Las Vegas….

Lyle Barnett capped off his rookie season in the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service in impressive fashion, taking his second victory in three races as part of the Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The event was the last of 11 events for the 2021 E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series championship chase.

Barnett (from North Carolina) finished off a stellar season in his first year in the class, knocking off fellow first-year driver J.R. Gray in the final round with a run of 5.814-seconds at 253.56 mph in his turbocharger-powered Elite HP Camaro. That gave Barnett the holeshot victory over Gray, who ran 5.796 at 248.66 in a matchup of what was the previous two event winners.

Barnett won his first career race in Dallas earlier this month, while Gray came through with his first victory in the class at the most recent event in Bristol. Barnett had the advantage this day thanks to a .011 reaction time, capping off a memorable day that also included round wins against Justin Bond and Dmitry Samorukov.

Lyle Barnett was the winner at the final E3 Spark Plugs Pro Modified Series event for 2021.

“We stuck with it all year, through all the struggles and trials and tribulations, and got it done,” Barnett said. “We decided to bring the turbo car out late in the year, and the first race we stuck it in the winner’s circle. We came back in Vegas and got another one and the team just worked hard. It was a big weekend for us to close it out with a win and I can’t thank everybody enough. We won two out of the last three races to close out my rookie season and that’s a heck of a way to end the year.”

Gray reached his second straight final round with victories against Khalid AlBalooshi, Mike Castellana and Mike Salinas. Gray finishes the season fifth in points, while Barnett took sixth in his rookie year.

The season ending event saw wily veteran Mike Castellana pace the field with a 5.793 secs and then run low ET of the event at 5.773 secs in round one. Castellana’s supercharged AAP Camaro lost in round two by the narrowest of margins (to JR Gray) by a 5.813 secs to 5.814 secs count.

Mike Castellana qualified #1 and also set low ET of the race.

The race also included a serious drag racing first – with entry by previously unknown Dmitry Samorukov — who hales from Moscow Russia! Samorukov, racing a supercharged ’68 Camaro qualified 11th (6.251 secs) but then in the first round managed one of the upsets of the ages when he beat non other then Steve Fast Jackson! Samorukov was first the stripe with a 6.146 secs effort – as the highly favored Jackson had his car shut off unexpectedly at about half track. Dmitry’s inaugural NHRA event effort ended however in round two. He did run his event quick 6.125 secs but that was not a match for eventual event winner Barnett’s 5.823 secs.

Dmitry Samorukov (from Russia) had a rather remarkable Pro Mod class debut driving this Camaro!
Mike Salinas – who was runner-up in Top Fuel at Las Vegas – also raced in Pro Mod and went the semi final round.
Canada’s Justin Bond (from Mission BC) returned to the cockpit of his ’69 Camaro at the Las Vegas finale. Justin qualified #8 – but then had a red-light in round #1 versus winner Lyle Barnett.

Final Championship Points (Top 10) for 2021 E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.

1. Jose Gonzalez, 838; 2. Brandon Snider, 713; 3. Steve Jackson, 680; 4. Justin Bond, 674; 5. JR Gray, 588; 6. Lyle Barnett, 474; 7. Mike Castellana, 434; 8. Doug Winters, 430; 9. Jeffery Barker, 411; 10. Khalid alBalooshi, 402.

Posted with files by NHRA Communications and Bruce Biegler
All Photos by Bob Johnson