Danny Rowe made a fast turnaround to his race program following an uncharacteristic DNQ at the season-opening NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series event at Florida’s Gainesville Raceway in mid-March.
What a difference a few weeks can make.
In early April, he raced to victory at Houston Raceway Park and, with his NHRA Wally in hand, served notice that he intends to be a player in the world-championship title chase in NHRA’s newest touring series.
The veteran Laguna Hills, Calif., driver qualified third in Houston in his Sterling Bridge ’68 Camaro and defeated multicategory competitor Melanie Troxel in the final round, which vaulted him from the very bottom of the points standings into the top five.
“I couldn’t be more impressed with this Sterling Bridge team,” Rowe said following the race. “As always, it takes a team effort to win out here with this level of competition … we had a little luck on our side, that’s for sure, but I think you have to when you’re racing against the caliber of cars and teams that we have out here.”
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.
Mix in an incredible amount of driving talent that in addition to Rowe and Troxel includes Burton Auxier, Joe Baker, Gainesville winner Kenny Lang, Jay Payne, Mike Knowles, Troy Coughlin, Tim Tindle, Ed Hoover, Ray Commisso, and Roger Burgess, and you have the setup for what promises to be an incredible shootout for the series crown.
“You look at the qualifying sheets, and it’s mind-blowing,” Rowe said. “The cars out here are the best in the world, and the competition is insane. Every Pro Mod car that rolls through the gates is capable of winning – they’re all championship contenders.”
Sitting fourth in the points standings following his Houston victory, Rowe is looking forward to continuing his advance toward the top spot during the Pro Mod portion of the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Int’l Raceway near St. Louis, April 30-May 2. The Pro Mod competition will be televised on ESPN2HD May 9 at 10 a.m. ET.
Rowe has won twice in NHRA Pro Mod exhibition racing at the southern Illinois multimotorsports complex near the Mississippi River and within view of the famed St. Louis Gateway Arch. In 2001, he qualified No. 1 and beat Hoover in the final round. In 2004, he outran Von Smith for the victory.
To win this time, he’ll have to outperform points leader Troxel, who pilots the In-N-Out ’68 Corvette, as well as 2009 GIR Pro Mod exhibition winner Burgess, who drives an ’05 Corvette.
Given the Houston performance, Rowe is confident in his team’s chances this season.
“I was talking to Jimmy [Rector, crew chief], and I told him that I really think we have a great program this year,” Rowe said. “The car is running great, everyone is working hard, and you never know – this might be our year.”
But given the level of talent in this new series, he remains very modest at the same time.
“You can go from a hero to a zero real fast in this deal,” Rowe said. “So we’ve got to stick to our game plan of taking each race one round at a time.”
• SCHEDULE: NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2:45 and 5 p.m. April 30 and 1:30 p.m. May 1. The first round of eliminations is set to begin May 1 at 4 p.m. Eliminations will continue May 2 at approximately 2 p.m.
• TICKETS: Tickets are available for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals. Call Gateway Int’l Raceway, 866-35-SPEED (77333) or log on to www.gatewayraceway.com to purchase tickets online.
• ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise 30 minutes of Pro Mod racing highlights from the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals Sunday, May 9, at 10 a.m. ET.