VON SMITH READY TO CLOSE OUT INAUGURAL NHRA GET SCREENED AMERICA PRO MOD SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP IN LAS VEGAS LAS VEGAS -- Von Smith is heading to Las Vegas with an opportunity to make a little NHRA history. The personable Tennessee driver sits 90...
VON SMITH READY TO CLOSE OUT INAUGURAL NHRA GET SCREENED AMERICA PRO MOD SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP IN LAS VEGAS
LAS VEGAS -- Von Smith is heading to Las Vegas with an opportunity to make a little NHRA history.
The personable Tennessee driver sits 90 points in front of second place driver Danny Rowe as he prepares for the final race of the inaugural season of the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. Smith can become the first world champion in NHRA's newest national touring series by rolling to the starting line as one of the 16 qualified drivers for the first round of competition at the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals on Saturday afternoon at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
When he takes the green light in that first-round pairing, he will become the first NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series world champion, no matter the outcome of the round.
However, the highly-competitive Smith, who has won three races this season in his Barwa/Al-Anabi Racing '68 Camaro, wants a little more than that. He wants to finish off the season in what he feels is an appropriate fashion: by winning the race.
"I'm not going there focused on just qualifying for the race and trying to win the championship," Smith said. "I want to win the race and sort of solidify the whole season."
It was mathematically possible for Smith to clinch the championship at the last event in Charlotte, N.C. However, he posted a second round exit and kept the door open for his challengers. With a maximum of 113 points available to a single driver at each event, the only way Rowe can win the championship title is if Smith fails to qualify and Rowe qualifies third or higher and goes on to win the race.
"I am a little disappointed that we couldn't finish (the championship) a little earlier," Smith said. "We've kept everybody close, but fortunately for our team no one was able to step up and take advantage."
After a bit of a slow start in the first two races, Smith got hot in the middle of summer and raced to victories at St. Louis, Englishtown and his hometown event, at Bristol, Tenn. Along with crew chief Howard Moon doing the tuning and strong support from team owner Sheik Khalid Al Thani, Smith says his team found a groove they liked and the positive results kept coming.
"Once we got a little momentum things just clicked for us," Smith said. "I am happy that we've been able to do so well in the first season when it is a real NHRA class. My team and Sheik Khalid have been there with me the whole time. I am proud of the effort that everyone has put forth this season."
Like his peers in the category, Smith says the competition in the new class continues to be very intense each weekend given all the past champions from different forms of drag racing that are on the all-star roster.
"Everybody in the class is on the same competitive level," Smith said. "It's been a fun challenge. It's racing and I love it."
Featuring the world's fastest and most unique doorslammer cars with an extremely diverse collection of vehicles, including '63 Corvettes, '68 Camaros, '67 Mustangs, '68 Firebirds as well as late model cars, the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series offers something for every kind of hot-rodding enthusiast.
In addition to Smith and Rowe, other pre-race favorites in the category are Indy winner and national speed record holder Brad Personett, Gainesville winner Kenny Lang, Norwalk winner Pat Musi, Troy Coughlin, Jay Payne, Melanie Troxel, Roger Burgess, Ray Commisso, Ed Hoover, Scott Ray and Mike Janis.
SCHEDULE: Get Screened America qualifying sessions are scheduled for 11:45 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 29 and at 11:15 a.m. on Oct. 30. The first round of Pro Mod eliminations begins on Oct. 30 at 4:30 p.m. Pro Mod eliminations resume on Oct. 31 at approximately 2 p.m.
TICKETS: Tickets are available for the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals. Please call The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at (800) 644-4444 or visit www.lvms.com to purchase tickets online.
* ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise 30-minutes of racing highlights from the Get Screened America Pro Mod Series portion of the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals on Sunday, Nov. 14, at 10:30 a.m. (ET).