Billes wins AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge

Al Billes, a veteran Pro Modified driver from Barrie, Ontario, Canada, won the Pro Mod Challenge at The Strip Friday night.

After a name change and moving alternates into the eight-car field, the AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge (previously known as the AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Shootout) got underway Friday as part of qualifying for the NHRA AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge, an NHRA exhibition class, being held this weekend in conjunction with NHRA ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

To eliminate any confusion with the Budweiser Shootout for the Top Fuel class, NHRA asked that a name change be made.  Therefore, at least temporarily, the special race-within-a-race, will be called the AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge, not to be confused with the series name, the 10-race NHRA AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge.

With Fred Hahn and Mike Janis not making the trip to Las Vegas, Thomas Patterson and Danny Rowe were inserted into the Challenge field.

The revised opening round pairings were as follows:

1.) Mike Ashley (¿67 Shelby Mustang) vs. 8.) Danny Rowe (¿63 Corvette)  
2.) Von Smith (¿04 Mustang) vs. 7.) Thomas Patterson (¿41 Willys)
3.) Al Billes (¿53 Corvette) vs. 5.) Mike Castellana (¿68 Camaro)
4.) Shannon Jenkins (¿68 Camaro) vs. 5.) Zach Barklage (¿04 Grand Am)

Ashley, Jenkins, Smith and Billes took win lights in the first round of eliminations.  Second round match ups found Ashley, with lane choice, against Jenkins on one side of the ladder.  On the other side the ladder read Smith, with lane choice, against Billes.

Billes and Jenkins both won and will face each other in the final round.  It should be noted that the Jenkins won his match up with Ashley by .0001 of a second.  That¿s a take-your-pick finish.

Billes takes home a winner take all purse of $10,000 from AMS Staff Leasing. The Canadian driver stopped the finish line timing clocks in 6.233 seconds.  Just a tick behind was Jenkins in 6.253 seconds.

¿This is an awesome feeling,¿ said Billes, after the win.  ¿It has been a great year for this team; one we didn¿t dream of at the start of the season.  Now we¿ll see what we can do tomorrow during qualifying and then on Sunday.¿


ROUND ONE -- Shannon Jenkins, Chevy Camaro, 6.428, 181.59 def. Zach Barklage, Pontiac Grand Am, broke; Al Billes, Chevy Corvette, 6.297, 226.13 def. Mike Castellana, Camaro, 6.377, 224.55; Von Smith, Ford Mustang, 6.285, 227.00 def. Thomas Patterson, Willys, 6.332, 226.16; Mike Ashley, Mustang, 6.272, 224.47 def. Danny Rowe, Corvette, 14.165, 86.62;
SEMIFINALS -- Billes, 6.300, 225.22 def. Smith, 11.039, 78.01; Jenkins, 6.259, 223.39 def. Ashley, 6.249, 225.45;
FINALS -- Billes, 6.233, 226.96 def. Jenkins, 6.253, 224.02.

After the first two of four qualifying sessions, the 16-car field for Pro Mods shapes up as follows: 1. Mike Castellana, Chevy Camaro, 6.234, 225.75; 2. Mike Ashley, Shelby Mustang, 6.249, 225.45; 3. Shannon Jenkins, Camaro, 6.259, 223.39; 4. Richie Stevens Jr., Ford Mustang, 6.269, 228.27; 5. Troy Critchley, Willys, 6.274, 224.32; 6. Von Smith, Mustang, 6.285, 227.00; 7. Al Billes, Chevy Corvette, 6.297, 226.13; 8. Dan Rowe, Corvette, 6.299, 225.41; 9. Frankie Taylor, Corvette, 6.313, 223.50; 10. Chip King, Dodge Avenger, 6.314, 225.41; 11. Wayne Torkelson, Ford Thunderbird, 6.330, 223.10; 12. Thomas Patterson, Willys, 6.331, 227.27; 13. Scott Cannon Jr, Studebaker, 6.362, 224.51; 14. Jay Payne, Camaro, 6.365, 219.65; 15. Zach Barklage, Pontiac Grand Am, 6.372, 223.84; 16. Harold Martin, Grand Am, 6.420, 221.34.