Pro Mod Drag Racing Series veteran Rickie Smith locked up his third world championship in four years after successfully qualifying his IDG Chevrolet Camaro for the field at the season-ending NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Smith, who won the championship back to back in 2013 and 2014, entered the event leading by 93 points and needed only to make the starting field of 16 to take the championship away from his longtime primary rival, two-time and defending series champ Troy Coughlin. Smtih qualified in the No. 7 spot with a 5.909 pass.
“This is awesome. I want to say thanks to IDG, to Joe [McCormick] and Charlie [Lingenfelter] and Lisa who helped me win these championships towards the end of my career,” said Smith, who has hinted he may retire after the 2017 season. “Thanks also to Kenny Koretsky and NitroFish and the one guy who’s stayed with me all these years, my crewmember, Chad Hester.”
Smith began the year with a victory at the Pro Mod season opener in Gainesville and advanced to the final round at the first three races, also winning in Atlanta. The only blemish on that record was a runner-up in Houston, where he crashed his nitrous-powered machine in the final round. He advanced to the semifinals in Norwalk and the final round in St. Louis and led the points for all nine races of the season coming into Las Vegas.
“I’ve always made my own calls, and that has been one of my big advantages I think,” said Smith, who has 10 career NHRA Pro Mod wins. “I have a good feel for the car and I’m able to adapt to that, and that’s helped me. The year before, I came out trying to do stuff the car couldn’t do. This year I came out like I normally do and ran the car the best I could. That was a big advantage to jump out like that, and we didn’t falter those first few races. I’m proud of the year we’ve had, and hopefully we can close it out.”
The Fuel injection, Ignition and Nitrous systems are all controlled by the EFI Technology XTR ECU.
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