Being well aware of the fact that we are only two races into the 2019 NHRA Pro Mod season, making a statement that the rest of the class has been put on notice is a bold statement. Fact of the matter is that is exactly what is happening.
Over the last two races, Todd Tutterow and Stevie Jackson have qualified in the top five for both races, and went on to face each other in the finals of both races, with each of them taking home a win. The dominance that these two have shown so far this season puts them well ahead in the points as well. Stevie holds just a three point lead over Todd in the points, but when you look past Todd, the number three spot is held by Jose Gonzalez, and he is almost an entire race back in points.
The next thing we will hear people say is that it is too early in the season to talk about any of this. I would disagree. Fact of the matter is that the NHRA Pro Mod season is only 12 races long. Their season also includes all of July and August off while the NHRA has their western swing and upper Mid-West events. Then they come back on Labor Day Weekend for Indy. What that means to competitors is that they had better have their shit together and sitting decent by the end of June for a shot at the championship.
Of the 12 races that the Pro Mods compete at, only four of those are at the end of the summer. Indy, St. Louis, Charlotte II, and Vegas. That means but the end of June two-thirds of the pro mod season is done. So when I tell you that drivers and teams better find that next gear already, it’s really time to do it. The May and June stretch for pro mod is absolutely brutal, and will take the best of the best to even survive. Of the next seven NHRA events, pro mod is contested at six of them. The only event where pro mod isn’t contested before the end of June is at Joliet.
Now, some people will say that the summer-time is the time for the turbo cars to shine, along with the nitrous cars. While you might be right about that, there are only two turbo cars in the top ten in points as of this moment, and two nitrous cars in the top ten. That means the blower cars still have a couple of races to extend the lead before even getting into the terribly hot weather at Topeka, Bristol, and Norwalk.
Why have Todd and Stevie done so well this season? It isn’t a fluke by any means. Todd is one of the most experienced pro mod drivers on the planet, and Stevie can drive any damn thing with wheels. Both of them work with a very small, inner circle group of people. When you see Todd, you will typically see his much more beautiful half Denise, his son Ty, and his main man Brad Schmidt. If you were to wander over to Stevie’s pit, you will find the same situation. Jack Barbee, who is an absolute constant with Stevie, along with Robert are the two that are always there. Obviously Billy Stocklin is making the crucial tuning decisions, and when they can Drew and Robbie attend to help Stevie achieve the goal.
There are a lot of you out there, and this included myself actually, that didn’t know at the Gators last month when Todd won, that it was his first NHRA National Event Wally. A man that had been synonymous with Pro Mod racing for this long just took home his first NHRA Wally at the 50th Annual Gators. The winter racing overseas I believe helped them start the season off the way they needed to.
If we are talking Stevie, the only thing that is going to be a hindrance to him fighting for the championship will be the one thing small teams always struggle for, and that’s the bottom line dollar. Just because you see someone’s name plastered on the side of a car, doesn’t mean the entire bill is getting footed. As long as there is money there to race, Stevie will be out there fighting Todd for a shot at that Championship.
I’m not counting anyone out of championship contention at this point because it is early in the season. I certainly also don’t believe that there is a single car out there that can go on a three or four race streak and dominate the entire field. My belief is that Todd and Stevie are two of the most consistent cars right now, and have shown that if they keep this pace up, they have the opportunity to do something very special this year.
What do all of you think we will see this season with ten races left? Will Stevie and Todd continue to be the ones on top fighting for a championship, or will we see others find their stride and give those two a run for it this season? Comment below and let us know what you think!