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2014 NHRA Pro Mod Series kicks off at GatorNationals

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The Amalie Motor Oil NHRA GatorNationals is not only the beginning of the Pro Stock Motorcycle season – it also marks the beginning of 2014 NHRA Pro Mod Series competition. 28 competitors head to Auto Plus Raceway at Gainesville for the first race of the season, targeting 2013 champ Rickie Smith, who postponed his retirement from racing after winning the title.

“(Sponsor) IDG said they wanted to go again and I love to race,” said Smith, father of PSM champ Matt Smith. “I’ve been doing this 40 years and I’ve been lucky enough to win some championships. I’ve been successful and I’m very grateful for that. I feel good and I think we’ll run well this year.”

“We're looking forward to going down (to Gainesville) and putting some runs on it,” said 2012 champ Troy Coughlin. “It's running pretty good. We're making headway, and (crew chief) Steve (Petty is) doing a good job, no doubt. We're thrashing hard on horsepower and how to get it to the ground. I've got the best team out there. We still have the same team coming back, and Steve is still doing the orchestrating. Same car, same engine and it's kind of nice going into the season with everything exactly the same as we ran the year before."

Also among the participants in Gainesville: veteran Danny Rowe, Al-Anabi Racing drivers Von Smith and Mike Castellana, and U.S. Nationals winner Mike Janis. The Pro Mod Series features a diverse collection of vehicles, including ’68 Camaros, ’67 Mustangs and ’68 Firebirds as well as late-model cars.

In qualifying at Gainesville, Rowe took the No. 1 qualifier with a pass of 5.858 seconds (250.55 mph), ahead of Janis (5.862 seconds/247.93 mph) and Castellana (5.863 seconds/244.56 mph). Jason Hamstra (5.866 seconds/246.30 mph) and Smith (5.887 seconds/245.09 mph) rounded out the top five.

Pro eliminations Gainesville begin Sunday at 11 a.m. ET. Keep up with the action at

Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.

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