Veteran "Trickie Rickie" Smith raced to his first victory in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx Monday during the rain-delayed Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals.
Smith, a former multi-time winner in NHRA Pro Stock competition, held off event top qualifier Mike Castellana in the final round after defeating Adam Flamholc, Raymond Commisso and Leah Pruett in the first three rounds. In his only other NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series final round appearance, Smith lost to Khalid alBalooshi last spring in Las Vegas.
In the final round at historic Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville, Smith powered his trademark red '68 Camaro past Castellana's '68 Camaro with a performance of 5.913 seconds at 240.29 mph. Castellana left the starting line first with an amazing .006 reaction time, but his car got loose near mid-track and slowed to a run of 6.435 at 189.79 mph.
The key round for Smith was his semifinal victory over Pruett. Smith won that race on a holeshot, using a quicker reaction time at the starting line with his performance of 5.926 at 239.95 to cross the finish line about seven feet in front of Pruett, who had the quicker time and speed in her late-model Ford Mustang, posting a 5.919 at 251.34.
With the victory, Smith opens the season in the series lead, 19 points ahead of Castellana.
The NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx continues April 13-15 at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, N.C. with the third annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.
ROUND ONE -- Mike Knowles, Chevy Camaro, 5.919, 241.63 def. Pete Farber, Dodge Daytona, foul; Leah Pruett, Ford Mustang, 5.916, 251.34 def. Steve Matusek, Mustang, 12.231, 71.16; Raymond Commisso, Camaro, 6.338, 183.44 def. Troy Coughlin, Camaro, 8.056, 111.09; Kenny Lang, Camaro, 5.892, 244.34 def. Roger Burgess, Pontiac Firebird, 6.009, 246.48; Donald Martin, Camaro, 5.936, 245.23 def. Donald Walsh, Mustang, 6.044, 236.96; Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.927, 238.72 def. Adam Flamholc, Camaro, 6.064, 234.21; Danny Rowe, Camaro, 5.890, 244.96 def. Ike Maier, Chevy Corvette, 6.271, 230.25; Mike Castellana, Camaro, 5.904, 243.55 def. Jay Payne, Camaro, 13.146, 76.48;
QUARTERFINALS -- Smith, 5.887, 240.64 def. Commisso, 11.859, 70.22; Castellana, 5.810, 246.39 def. Knowles, 5.922, 241.93; Martin, 5.978, 236.63 def. Lang, 7.997, 119.24; Pruett, 5.895, 251.34 def. Rowe, 5.908, 244.83;
SEMIFINALS -- Smith, 5.926, 239.95 def. Pruett, 5.919, 251.34; Castellana, 6.437, 232.87 def. Martin, foul;
FINAL -- Smith, 5.913, 240.29 def. Castellana, 6.435, 189.79.