Season round #4 for NHRA’s E3 Spark Plugs 2020 Pro Mod Series features marquee final and builds championship tension…..

North Carolina’s Rickie Smith had a very special weekend during the 51st annual Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals. At event’s end Sunday night he was sharing the winner’s circle with his son, Matt Smith (who had prevailed in the Pro Stock Motorcycle eliminator).  For Smith the win came after sitting out part of this season due to health reasons.

A multi-time world champ (within a number of sanctioning bodies) Rickie Smith raced to his first win of the 2020 E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series season when he beat Mike Janis in the final round.

It was the fourth race of the season for the class and Smith became the fourth different winner in the talent-filled category, going 5.801-seconds at 249.63 mph in his nitrous-powered Camaro to defeat Janis, a former world champ.

Smith, racing for just the second time in 2020, reached his 25th career final round with victories against Doug Winters, Jim Whiteley and No. 1 qualifier Brandon Snider.

He never trailed in the championship round and rolled to his first win this season and 16th in his stellar Pro Mod career.

Premium rated Pro Mod class driver Rickie Smith won at NHRA Gainesville last weekend.

“I’m just amazed that God has let me do this for this long,” Smith said. “You’ve just got to not make mistakes and stay focused. The older you get, the harder it is to stay focused. But I’m so tickled about this.”

Janis advanced to his 12th career final round with wins against Kris Thorne, Chad Green, and Khalid alBalooshi. Janis also jumped into the points lead and now holds a 16-point advantage against reigning world champion Stevie “Fast” Jackson with three races remaining in 2020.

Racing his supercharged C7 – Brandon Snider was the #1 qualifier at 5.813 secs.

The Pro Mod class at Gainesville drew 19 entries and the bump spot was a 6.037 secs mark.  The quickest car in the class was once again the Bahrain 1 Racing Camaro driven by Khalid alBalooshi who ran 5.739 secs before losing out to Janis on a holeshot.

Kris Thorne (from Texas) who had endured a major crash at the previous race (Denso US Nationals at Indy) — did bounce back nicely from that misfortunate — he was credited with top speed of the event at 253.75 mph.

Khalid alBalooshi flew the Bahrain 1 Racing Camaro to low ET of the meet and to a semi final round finish.

Seeking a second career NHRA Pro Mod World title — Western North York state based Mike Janis enhanced his chances when he placed in the final round to take over the lead.

The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series continues Oct. 2-4 with the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals presented by Pennzoil at World Wide Technology Raceway in St. Louis.

Posted with files by NHRA Communications and Bruce Biegler
Photos by Luke Nieuwhof (