NHRA’s E3 Spark Plugs Pro Modified Drag Racing Series reached a dramatic season conclusion last weekend….

The wildly popular 12-event season series which features a great international mix of class competitors completed it’s 2018 schedule and crowned it’s world champion during the NHRA Toyota Nationals held at Las Vegas.

Western New York’s Mike Janis, who is not only an accomplished racer but also a cutting edge innovator within the category clinched the series World Championship points title driving his Al-Anabi Performance presented supercharged Chevy Camaro.

Janis was the points leaders entering the final weekend but when he was defeated in the first round of eliminations by Mike Caruso — that did open the door for former and multi-time NHRA World Champion Rickie Smith, who was second in points.

Smith who had advanced to the quarter finals then had an opportunity to win his fourth NHRA Pro Mod crown if he advanced to the semifinals. But in that crucial round pairing Smith was defeated by Rick Hord’s turbocharged C7 — which allowed Janis to claim the crown.

Mike Janis — who is no stranger to Pro Mod class racing – earned his biggest prize yet by claiming the 2018 E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod championship.

“It hasn’t set in yet,” said Janis. “After losing first round we were all kind of down. Now, just incredible feeling, I can’t explain it. We had a good car all year, we had a good car when we got here, nice and consistent runs. I’ve won races before but this is the cream of the crop right here. The “NHRA Pro Mod Champ” — I love it!”

The event’s Pro Mod title was however claimed by Brazil’s Sidnei Frigo, who continues to emerge as a top ranked runner in the class.

For the final round of the year, Frigo’s turbocharged Camaro faced Mike Castellana’s supercharged Camaro and it was Frigo taking the stripe with a run of 5.756 secs at 256.50 mph to the trailing run of 5.861 secs at 249.49 mph for Castellana. That was the first win of the season for Frigo and the second of his career.

Brazil’s Sidnei Frigo (far lane) defeated Mike Castellana in the final NHRA Pro Mod event pairing of the season.

“We did have a lot of issues with the car at the beginning of the year.” said Frigo. “Now we fixed the car and it runs great. Next year is going to be a good year.”

Sidnei, who is the pulp paper production magnate back home in Itatiba Brazil (Artvinco) entered eliminations in the #7 qualified position and he defeated Steve Jackson, Michael Biehle and Rick Hord in earlier competition.

Rick Hord’s semi-final round finish boosted him to a 5th place finish in final ’18 season points.

Racing the Q80 Camaro -Puerto Rico’s Jose Gondolez set both low ET and top speed.

There was 26 cars entered at the Las Vegas E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series event portion (presented by J&A Service and by Trask Performance).  Runner-up Mike Castellana paced the field qualified #1 (5.710 secs) however it was Jose Gonzalez (from Puerto Rico) that notched low ET and top speed (5.707 secs and 258.22 mph) while enroute to a semi final finish.

Racing his turbocharged Camaro — Calgary’s Rick Distefano represented event presenting sponsor Trask Performance at Las Vegas.

2018 “top ten” E3 Spark Plugs Final Points : 1. Mike Janis, 770; 2. Rickie Smith, 763; 3. Mike Castellana, 725; 4. Steve Jackson, 659; 5. (tie) Chad Green, 610; Jeremy Ray, 610; 7. Rick Hord, 565; 8. Khalid alBalooshi, 558; 9. Todd Tutterow, 521; 10. Jose Gonzalez, 510

Posted by Bruce Biegler
Photos by Phil Hutchison