Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 3, Page

Words by Duke Ritenhouse
Photos by Ron Lewis

or the second straight year, Houston-area native Joshua Hernandez won the Pro Mod class at the O'Reilly Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park. His win on Sunday, though, came with an added bonus: his first-ever points lead in the AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge presented by RPM Depot competition.

Hernandez capped a busy day of racing Sunday with a final-round win  over Danny Rowe, who left before the 'tree was activated. Following   some scheduling changes on Friday and Saturday, all four rounds of  Pro Mod eliminations were run on Sunday, with Hernandez posting times of 6.11, 6.16, 6.16, and 6.12 in his blown '68 Camaro in wins over Harold Laird, Matt Hagan, Burton Auxier, and Rowe.

A year ago, in his rookie season, Hernandez won in Houston in just his second competitive outing behind the wheel of a Pro Mod car. He went on to win three more times in 2005 before being named the Pro Mod Challenge Rookie of the Year.

With two of 10 events completed in 2006, Hernandez is on top of the NHRA Pro Mod points standings for the first time. His 513 points from  Houston have him at 725 for the season, 98 more than Gainesville winner Jay Payne, who qualified right behind Hernandez (No. 4 to No. 5) before falling to Hagan in the opening round of eliminations.

For Rowe, the last race of the day might have been a disappointment,  but the final-round showing represents a return to the top of the Pro Mod mountain following a year off in 2005. He qualified No. 3 with a  6.13 before scoring eliminations wins over Frankie Taylor, Mike Castellana, and Shelly Payne, who was racing in her second straight  semifinal to open the 2006 season. Rowe jumped up to fourth in the 
Pro Mod Challenge points standings, trailing only Hernandez and both  Paynes.

Following two events in a three-week span, the series now takes a short break before resuming competition at the O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals, April 28-30 in Bristol, TN.

Matt Hagan


Chip King


Shannon Jenkins