Photos by Roger Richards
COMMERCE, Georgia (April 25, 2008) - When Pro Mod driver Rick Stivers said he was looking to “get lucky” in Atlanta at this weekend's JEGS Pro Mod Challenge event at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals, he didn't think he would be talking about the kind of luck he had today. It wasn't "bad" luck— far from it. It was the kind of luck that kept him from hitting the walls and barrel rolling sideways down the quarter-mile at Atlanta Dragway.
In his first qualifying attempt, the Lexington, Ky.-resident delivered a white-knuckle, breath-holding performance, characteristic of the thrills common to the Pro Modified class. From the left lane, his '67 Shelby Mustang GT took a hard left after Stivers pushed the car into second gear, and the veteran driver held on and corrected, narrowly missing the left wall only to turn and head for the right wall traveling nearly 100 mph. Holding on for dear life, Stivers recovered from the car jumping up on just one wheel and kept from barrel-rolling down the track. He ended the run back in his lane, looking around the cockpit for the divine helper that got him through the run unscathed.
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"We didn't think we'd be getting another lap because of a possible rain storm, so we had to push the car to try to make the field," Stivers explained. "When all hell broke loose after I pulled second gear, it was kind of : 'hang on and try to keep the rubber side down,' and I don't know how it happened, but it worked.
"I know there was an angelic co-pilot with me on that run, because I should have been in the wall - one or the other, take your pick, or rolling down the track. Now, that's what I call luck — if not a whole lot more," he said.
After a thorough inspection of the car and chassis by crew chief Mike Janis and team owner Tim Tindle,'The Dozer' was cleared for action, and Stivers prepared for the second round of qualifying. He delivered a safe 6.141-second, 232.11-mph pass that was good enough to take the provisional 14th spot heading into the final qualifier Saturday morning. Stivers teammate, Tim Tindle, is on the No, 16 bump spot at 6.153/240.34, capping the quickest-ever field in JEGS Pro Mod history.
"After that first run, I'm just glad we were able to get back on the track, let alone get into the show," Stivers said.
Tomorrow, the forecast has a chance of rain, which may lay claim to the last chance qualifying round, setting the field as it sits tonight.
"Either way, I'll be ready to race tomorrow. We'll just have to wait and see what Mother Nature sends us. I'd really like to have another consistent run before we go into eliminations Saturday night, just to get things shaken out - but we'll see what happens," Stivers said.
Weather and NHRA scheduling permitting, the final round of qualifying is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. Saturday morning, with eliminations beginning at 4:30 p.m. that afternoon. Eliminations conclude beginning Sunday morning.