NHRA’s first E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod Series race features international finale…

It was the two fastest cars and the Dominican Republic versus Canada for the Pro Mod class championship during NHRA’s Amalie Oil Gatornationals last weekend.

Jose Gonzalez, a native of the Carribean, started eliminations by making the quickest run in E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series history and then ended his day with a victory, beating Canadian Justin Bond (Mission BC) in the final round of the opening race of the 2021 season at Gainesville Raceway.

Racing his new Q80 Camaro – Jose Gonzalez – won his 3rd career NHRA event at the season-opening Gatornationals.

The race, which was presented by Jerry Bickel Race Cars and FTI Performance, is the first of 12 events during the 2021 E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service season, and Gonzalez rolled to his third career win.

He went 5.720-seconds at 254.33 mph in his ProCharger-powered Q80 Racing/EGR Racing Camaro to beat Bond in the final round as Bond, who was the No. 1 qualifier, slowed to an 8.341 at 112.00.

After qualifying third, Gonzalez eclipsed the record Bond set Saturday night, going an incredible 5.621 at 254.62 to win in the first round of eliminations against Jerico Balduf and make the quickest run in class history. He followed with round wins against Clint Satterfield and Khalid Al-Balooshi to reach the final round for the sixth time in his career, meeting Bond for the first time in eliminations.

“The car actually feels like I’ve been in it for almost a year driving it,” said Gonzalez, who didn’t race in 2020. “I was actually a bit scared with all the new rules that we have to shift, and I had never shifted (in) this car before. I’m just happy where we are being able to go to the finals (and) win at the very first race.”

Western Canadian Justin Bond had a terrific event as driver of the Bahran 1 Racing Camaro – qualifying #1 and going to the final round.

Bond, who went a whopping 5.638 at 253.80 to set a record and qualify No. 1 for the first time in his ProCharger-powered JBS/Bahrain 1 Racing Camaro, beat Jim Whiteley, Jeffrey Barker and Jonathan Gray to reach his third career final round.

The first NHRA E3 Sparks Plugs Pro Mod race of the season did draw 26 entries and produced a bump spot of 5.826 secs.

The race also did include one of the scariest class incidents ever when Brandon Pesz and Dustin Nesloney collided in a wild top end occurance during the final qualifying session on Saturday – with incredibly both drivers emerging without major injuries. You can view that accident on YouTube: HERE

Class newcomer JR Gray (from South Carolina) was impressive – going to the “final four” in Pro Mod with his supercharged Camaro.
Ontario’s Eric Latino was one of 29 Pro Mod cars entered at Gainesville. His best run was 5.836 secs which fell just short of the bump.

The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service returns to action April 30-May 2 as part of the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway. 

Posted with files by NHRA Communications and Bruce Biegler
Photos by Dave DeAngelis