Todd Tutterow has experienced a litany of wins and championships throughout his standout Pro Mod career, but one of the veteran’s biggest moments came a month ago when he claimed his first career NHRA victory win at Gainesville in the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service.
In a record-setting field and against an opponent who made the quickest run in the history of the class in the final round, Tutterow won on a holeshot to claim the incredible victory. But the way he sees it, this is just the start of what Tutterow hopes is a special year. His next chance to show that comes at Houston Raceway Park powered by Pennzoil as part of this weekend’s 32nd annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil.
“We’re confident in what we’re doing and we’ve got a good program,” Tutterow said. “We had last year to go through the whole season for the first time, feeling things out. We felt we should have won a couple races, but we’ve got a real good combination now and we’re really looking forward to this race. It’s better to start up front if you’re trying to win a title and that’s what we’re working for.”
The race, which is presented by the Real Pro Mod Association (RPM), is the second of 12 events during the 2019 E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series season and will be shown on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) and Fox Sports 2 (FS2). Jim Whiteley is the defending event winner, but Tutterow hopes to claim back-to-back victories to open the 2019 campaign.
It certainly won’t be easy in the loaded class, which includes standouts like three-time world champion Rickie Smith, defending world champ Mike Janis, Jeremy Ray, Marc Caruso, Michael Biehle and Stevie “Fast” Jackson. It was Jackson who went a world-record 5.643-seconds at 254.14 mph in the final round against Tutterow, but the veteran was quicker off the starting line to earn the win.
That showcases just how difficult it is to win in the class, especially when it took an incredible 5.753 just to qualify. The class continues to reach new levels and Tutterow is expecting things to be fast in Houston. But after spending his first full season in the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series last year and then spending his off-season running his supercharged Al-Anabi Performance Camaro overseas, Tutterow was able to hit the ground running to open 2019.
“We made a lot of good progress throughout the winter months, so we just want to keep the ball rolling,” Tutterow said. “You can’t get behind in this class. The best way to have a good weekend is getting that first qualifying run under your belt and get in the field. But even that’s tough in this class. Doing that in Gainesville allowed me to know what to do and made my laps easier.”
The race in Houston marks the first of three races in a four-week stretch, again putting importance on starting the season well. But a hectic schedule has always been where Tutterow has thrived over the years. A constant worker, Tutterow prides himself on being able to tune and drive the car, and the longtime standout believes he has an approach that can be successful in Houston.
“I might not be the fastest car out there, but I’m pretty good at reading the track,” Tutterow said. “I’m a little more conservative, but the key is reading the racetrack. Everything has to click and everybody has to do their job just to get it down the track. But I’m excited to head to Houston and I’m ready to go racing. It should be a good weekend.”
The first of four E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service qualifying sessions takes place at 3:30 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. on Friday, and the final two rounds of qualifying take place on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12:00 p.m. on Sunday.