Jackson ran a 5.847 at 245.81 to take the other semifinal win over Stevenson, whose car got loose and drifted close to the centerline, dropping to a 6.843 at only 153.60 mph.



Shane Molinari raced to his third No. 1 qualifying position of the season and was able to parlay the position into a first round win during eliminations at the J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, Oct. 28. This weekend’s Pro Mod racing, presented by Real Pro Mod Association, is the final event on the 2017 schedule.


In the final qualifying session Molinari posted a run of 5.801 seconds at 255.10 mph to secure the No. 1 position.


With 26 entries in the class, the bump was Danny Rowe at 5.918 seconds, a mere .024 behind Molinari. Not qualified were Chip King, Steve Matusek, Michael Bowman, Mike Knowles, Billy Harper, Rick Distefano, Derek Menholt, Clint Satterfield, Carl Stevens and a disqualified Eric Latino.


In the first round of eliminations on Saturday, Molinari faced Rowe and posted a winning run of 5.882 at 252.47 in his ‘68 Firebird to 5.933 at 243.63 for Rowe’s 2016 Corvette.


“I just figure we need to go three more rounds,” said Molinari. “We will see how that goes for the end of the year standings.”


Six of the top ten Pro Mod point-getters raced on Goodyear tires in 2017. They were Coughlin, Molinari, Jonathan Gray, Steven Whiteley, Rickie Smith and Khalid alBalooshi.


Other first-round results were:


Harry Hruska, Camaro, 5.864, 250.64 def. Steve Whiteley, Cadillac CTS-V, 5.888, 237.46; Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 5.864, 244.96 def. Khalid alBalooshi, Camaro, 5.940,243.06; Mike Castellana, Camaro, 5.857, 248.48 def. Mike Janis, Camaro, Broke; Shane Molinari, Pontiac Firebird, 5.882, 252.47 def. Danny Rowe, Corvette, 5.933, 243.63; Troy Coughlin, Corvette, 5.808, 255.58 def. Sidnei Frigo, Corvette, 5.868, 252.47; Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.863, 248.39 def. Michael Biehle, Mustang, 6.193, 205.57; Dan Stevenson, Camaro, 6.894, 175.43 def. Bob Rahaim, Camaro, 9.689, 96.51; Steve Jackson, Camaro, 5.851, 245.36 def. Jim Whiteley, Camaro, 11.551, 111.65.

Khalid alBalooshi finished tenth in the point standings.


2017 J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series Final Points


1. Troy Coughlin, 912; 2. Mike Castellana, 847; 3. Steve Jackson, 716; 4. Shane Molinari, 686; 5. Sidnei Frigo, 611; 6. Jonathan Gray, 603; 7. Steven Whiteley, 602; 8. Steve Matusek, 547; 9. Rickie Smith, 494; 10. Khalid alBalooshi, 493. 


race reports

NHRA Pro Mod Finals at Las Vegas

Coughlin Takes Championship; Jackson Gets First Event Win

Words by Kay Burk

Photos by Ron Lewis

Troy Coughlin captured his third J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series title Sunday, Oct. 29, with a huge quarterfinal victory over championship rival Mike Castellana. Coughlin has now won the championship or come in second place in each of the last six seasons.


"It takes an absolute army of people to get to this point," Coughlin said. "From Steve Petty (crew chief), Mike Rees and Kyle Pettis, to my brothers and my wife and kids, to the 400-plus associates we have at JEGS Mail Order, on through to all of our incredible partners with the race team, we all did this together. Without any of those pieces in place, this wouldn't have happened.


"It was a struggle every race. We had some rule changes to deal with at the start of the year, then they threw some more at us late in the season, but somehow these guys kept focused and together with everyone at Proline and Fuel Tech, we figured out a way to win. This is such an exciting time for us. We've had an incredible run."


Coughlin's runner-up finish in this weekend's 17th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals was icing on the cake. The real goal was the championship, and although it took a little longer to get it done than expected, thanks to a change in the race day schedule, it was worth the wait.

Mike Castellana


After beating Sidnei Frigo Saturday night, Coughlin faced a second-round match-up with Castellana, the only driver left in the standings who had a chance to win the championship. Completing a comeback that started five races ago, Coughlin beat the man who led the points for most of the year, running a 5.836 at 255.29 mph to Castellana's 5.837 at 249.07 mph. Coughlin took over the points lead with his win in St. Louis and was 26 points ahead of Castellana coming into the final event.


"We were supposed to run Round 2 at 10 a.m. but they came to us and said they'd moved it back to 2 o'clock so we had some extra time to think about it," Coughlin said. "As the numbers indicate, it was a tough race. I had a bit of an advantage at the Tree but he edged ahead there for a bit before the turbos really kicked in and we were able to sneak by and win. What an incredible feeling.”


After clinching the title, Coughlin and the JEGS.com Chevrolet Corvette C7 team pulled themselves together and prepared for the semifinals, where Coughlin beat Harry Hruska with a 5.843 at 254.04 mph to Hruska's 5.915 at 250.46 mph.


In the final, Coughlin faced Stevie “Fast” Jackson and gave up the win when his car suffered a mechanical issue and he was forced to abort the run.


Jackson posted a winning time of 7.081 seconds at 138.84 mph. A former Outlaw Pro Mod racer, this is his first season with the NHRA.


“What an awesome win. This is my first time racing in Vegas and it's an unbelievable experience,” said Jackson. “This is a tough class to even qualify for. To win the last race of the season is a game changer for us. Nobody wants to eat their Thanksgiving dinner thinking about getting their butt kicked. Jack Barbee, Mark Savage, Tracy Teasley and Robbie Lowry have killed it all year. Billy Stocklin is the best there is, period. And I do a decent job half the time driving the car. Being a part of Bahrain 1 is very special. We are a big family and next year is mine.”


In the second round of eliminations Hruska got the win when Molinari clicked off his car early after losing traction. Dan Stevenson took the measure of multi-time champion Rickie Smith and led the entire way down the track.

Defending Pro Mo Champion, Rickie Smith, could only manage a ninth place finish this season.


Jonathan Gray was off the line in .024 seconds to Jackson’s .042, but Jackson had made up the ground by about 200 feet and went on for the win with a 5.837 at 246.80 mph to Gray’s 5.989, 239.10.


In the semifinal Coughlin’s .066 RT was enough to beat Hruska’s .070 and the JEGS car never trailed, taking a 5.843, 254.04 win over Hruska’s 5.915, 250.46.



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