BY:    Anthony Vestal

Most of the top 10 drivers actually remain mathematically eligible on paper, but with a maximum of 113 points available to a Pro Mod driver at each event, only a handful of the top five can legitimately make a run at series leader Von Smith. The back half of the top 10 would need Smith to take a vacation during the final two events to have a shot. And among the few challengers within range, most will need to be at the top of their game and hope Smith turns in a sub-par performance if they’re to have any hope of a championship comeback effort.

That’s why competitive fires among the top 10 Pro Mod teams will be burning at a maximum intensity level at the third annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, Sept. 16-19 at spectacular zMAX Dragway, which sits just northeast of downtown Charlotte, N.C.  The race, which will be televised on ESPN2 HD, is the ninth of 10 events in the inaugural season for NHRA’s newest national touring series.

Canada's Danny Rowe sits 2nd in GSA points

Smith, who won three races during the season in his Barwa/Al-Anabi Racing ’68 Camaro, leads second place driver and Houston winner Danny Rowe (originally from Calgary) by 74 points. Smith holds a 106-point lead over Gainesville winner Kenny Lang (from Winnipeg), who sits in third place in the standings.

Troy Coughlin in his ’67 Camaro and hard-charging Brad Personett, who claimed his first series win two weeks ago at Indy in his red turbo-charged ’68 Camaro, are fourth and fifth overall, respectively, and could get to the top of the standings should Smith have another weekend like he did at Indy and either one of them races to victory. Smith suffered a rare stumble at the world’s most prestigious drag race, and was upset in the opening round of eliminations.

While those drivers’ hopes remain high, on the other side of the coin, should Smith finish the event with at least a 114-point lead over second place, he will wrap up the first NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series title in NHRA history with one event remaining on the schedule.

Winnipeg's Kenny Lang

Featuring the world’s fastest and most unique doorslammer cars with an extremely diverse collection of vehicles, including ’63 Corvettes, ’68 Camaros, ’67 Mustangs, ’68 Firebirds as well as late model cars, the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series offers something for every kind of hot-rodding enthusiast.

In addition to the drivers in the series championship mix, other pre-race favorites in the category are Norwalk winner Pat Musi, Jay Payne, Melanie Troxel, Roger Burgess, Ray Commisso, Burton Auxier, Joe Baker, and Mike Knowles.

Three local favorites, King, N.C.’s Rickie Smith, Roxboro, N.C.’s Chip King and Gilbert, S.C.’s Ed Hoover, are expected to have plenty of fan support in the pits.


UPDATED 9/6/2010 (Following the eighth of 10 races; victories in parentheses)

1. Von Smith, Oak Ridge, Tenn., Barwa / Al-Anabi Racing ’68 Camaro (3) 528
2. Danny Rowe, Laguna Hills, Calif., Sterling Bridge ’68 Camaro (1) 454
3. Kenny Lang, Manitoba, Canada, Kenny Lang Racing ’53 Corvette (1) 422
4. Troy Coughlin, Delaware, Ohio, ’68 Camaro 382
5. Brad Personett, Elkhart, Ind., Personett Performance ’68 Camaro (1) 360
6. Ed Hoover, Gilbert, S.C., Trussell Construction ’68 Camaro 358
7. Joe Baker, Milton, Fla.,’68 Firebird 353
8. Jay Payne, Ontario, Calif., FireIce ’68 Camaro 359
9. Raymond Commisso, Toronto, OntarioPro Care RX ’68 Camaro 340
10. Scott Ray, Greenville, Ohio, Ohio Crankshaft ’53 Corvette 333