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Manny Buginga Names Jason Lee Crew Chief of Pro Mod Operation

Veteran radial tire racer and newly baptized NHRA Pro Mod Driver Manny Buginga names 2022 Radial vs. the World Champion Jason Lee as crew chief. Buginga and Lee will debut together as driver and crew chief at the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway in Concord, North Carolina, on April 28-30.

Manny Buginga

“The question has been, ‘Are we going to be able to come out and race again?’ and the answer is yes, we will definitely be out racing,” declared Buginga.

Buginga has been without a crew chief since his staging duel against reigning NHRA Pro Mod Champion Kris Thorne at the AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. After the highly-talked- about activities that transpired, Lee contacted Buginga and offered his help as a friend. However, Buginga took Lee up on his offer and tapped him as his full-time crew chief for the remainder of the 2023 season.

“We had a very good conversation about plans and potential and what we could do to keep his team where it is,” said Lee. “We talked about his goals and my goals, and as a result, we’re now working together.”

Buginga and Lee have known each other for over 20 years and are excited about finally working together.

“We’re going to bring the resources of two very experienced, poise, successful teams together to form one team or one umbrella to go out and be successful in that world,” said Lee. “We’ll have the drive behind it, and then hopefully, we can go out and gather the knowledge to compete with these guys that have been running a quarter-mile trim for quite a long time.”

“The championship is the overall goal, but you got a lot of heavy hitters and dominant people over there that have put their time and years into it,” said Buginga. “We are just a bunch of newbies having a good time trying to win a Wally to prepare us ultimately for the championship.”

With Lee joining Team Buginga, Manny isn’t letting his foot off the gas pedal. As a matter of fact, Lee, Buginga and his team have already completed a successful and productive test session.

“We have a very short period of time,” said Lee about the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. “We’re looking forward to getting the first race under our feet and then feeling our way through the process. Our expectations are always high, but they’re also realistic.”

After the situation that Buginga found himself in earlier this year, he’s ready to inject his team with a boost of confidence. “The guys are confident in me, but can we do this again? Can we be dominant? Can we continue this path?” asked Buginga. “The answer is yes; all you got to do is keep working and work hard enough.”

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“We definitely enjoy the challenge,” said Lee. “We’ve never turned down a challenge. This is when the cream rises to the top.”

This story was originally published on April 6, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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