One of the greatest Pro Mod drivers in the history of drag racing takes yet another win this weekend in Norwalk. Rickie fought through weather, lack of qualifiers, and some amazing competitors to take his third win of the season.
Norwalk is one of the most premiere dragstrips in the country, and that is where NHRA rolled into this weekend. None of us thought that weather would be such a nightmare though. On Saturday alone, they had to stop the action at least 5x to dry the track. Friday night they lost a qualifier as well because of the wet stuff. One weekend the teams are dealing with hotter than the seventh level of hell in Bristol, and this weekend it was terrible weather yet again, but it was due to water.
Rickie has had an up and down season so far. Even though he was #2 in points coming into Norwalk this weekend after suffering early round losses in Virginia and Bristol. This allowed Mike Janis to climb above Rickie in the points at the half way point of the season. Mike came into the Norwalk event just a few rounds ahead of Rickie in the points. That all was about to change though, as Rickie beat Mike Janis in the second round and went on to win. This should certainly put Rickie back ahead of Mike in the standings.
Eliminations certainly didn’t come easy for Rickie this weekend either. In the first round early, this morning Rickie took on the turbo powered Camaro of Dan Stevenson, who has been really making huge strides with his program since bringing Steve Summers into the fold. Dan was unfortunately timed out, handing Rickie the round win. Rolling into the water next to Rickie for the second-round matchup was the current point leader Mike Janis, who at about half track had mechanical failure and Rickie cruised to the win. When the semi-finals rolled around it was yet another turbo car in the beams. This time it was Maximum Effort IV, the Xtreme Racing Engines powered Vette owned and driven by Rick Hord. Rick had some difficulties and had to get out of it, send Rickie to the finals. The finals were a blower vs. nitrous matchup. It was the Carolina Kingpin Jeremy Ray, who was in his first ever NHRA pro mod final that was going to face off against Rickie.
All day long Jeremy had been of the edge of greatness when it came to reaction times. He was killing the tree round after round. In round one he took an axe to that tree with a .006 R/T. Jeremy continued his tree chopping in the second round with a .022 R/T, which gave him the win over Mike Castellana. The semi-finals against Pete Farber saw Jeremy cut yet another great light. This time is was an .036 light, and it was a good thing since the matchup turned into a peddle fest that Jeremy won. The finals were unfortunately Jeremey’s worst light of the day with an .045. That wasn’t what made the difference though. Jeremy suffered a rear gear breakage about half track that allowed Rickie to drive away and capture yet another Wally.
This is the seventh of twelve NHRA Pro Mod races that are contested in 2018, and it is Rickie third win of the season. Previously Rickie took wins at Gainesville and Topeka, which is what has made up for his previous early round exits. Rickie’s teammate Khalid took the victory last weekend in Bristol, which left his third in points coming into this weekend, but an entire race worth of rounds behind Mike Janis coming into race.
For those that don’t follow pro mod as closely, while this is the seventh race of the pro mod season in NHRA, it is the last race for the pro mods until the US Nationals in Indy on Labor Day Weekend. It honestly could not come at a better time for a lot of these teams, including Rickie. The pro mods just finished a back to back to back swing (VMP, Bristol, and Norwalk). This gives teams time to regroup and get ready for the last half of the seasons.
Just because the teams will have eight weeks off though, don’t think for a second that any team will take eight weeks off. All the teams will be working on freshening up their hard parts, and then get back out there to stay sharp and find some more power. You may think that 200 points is impossible to make up, but we have seen stranger things happen, so I certainly wouldn’t count a lot of these drivers out of the championship hunt.