Stevie “Fast” Jackson is 2-for-2 in September and there’s no chance he’s slowing down.
Whether it’s been in his blown NHRA Pro Mod Bahrain 1 Racing Camaro or his Radial vs. the World Shadow 2.0, Jackson has been unstoppable this month.
He blew through the field at the U.S. Nationals during eliminations to recapture his Pro Mod rhythm, and followed it by – what else – setting every imaginable RvW record possible at the Shakedown Nationals en route to the victory.
Next up, it’s the NHRA Gatornationals, which takes place this weekend at Gainesville Raceway. Oh yeah, he made the quickest run in NHRA Pro Mod history there a year ago, which means he won’t be letting up anytime soon.
“My goal is not to lose another round of racing this year,” Jackson said. “I think we have a car that can run well in Gainesville and I want a Gatornationals win bad. These fans are passionate, I’ve always ran well there and it is a special place for me.”
Of course, that Gatornationals a year ago – when Jackson went a stunning 5.643-seconds – came during its traditional March timeslot, not September, which is happening for the first time in history because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For Jackson, though, it’s a chance at redemption and an opportunity to remain perfect this month. That record run a year ago came in the final round, but in a losing effort after Todd Tutterow won on a holeshot. That was about the only hiccup he had last year, and his string of success has continued this year, most recently in Virginia at the Shakedown.
There, he crushed everyone in sight in RvW, lowering the record he already owned with a mind-blowing pass of 3.505-seconds at 213.67 mph in his semifinal win against David Reese. He followed it with a 3.508 at 213.20 in the final-round victory against Luis De Leon, capping off another dominant weekend in the Shadow. For Jackson, even after all the success, the mindset remains the same.
“I just want to win it all,” said Jackson, who also qualified No. 1 with a 3.520 at 212.46. “I just want to smash everybody.”
That’s not been a question on the RvW side since, well, it seems like forever. On the Pro Mod side, it took a while for Jackson to get going in the talent-filled class in 2020 after the year didn’t open until late July. He struggled at the first two races, then crashed in testing before the U.S. Nationals. But he rebounded there, won the race and vaulted into the points lead, taking a slim three-point advantage over Jonathan Gray into Gainesville.
The likes of Kris Thorne and Chad Green, Mike Janis and Jason Scruggs are also within striking distance, but Jackson is solely concerned with making sure his program is clicking. When it is, he’s proven to be difficult to beat in recent seasons.
“I got my mojo back in Indy and drag racing, like all sports, is a momentum-driven sport,” said Jackson, who has five wins in the last 14 Pro Mod races. “You need to have momentum when it comes to crunch time, and my team is fired up and ready to race for a championship. I was pretty bummed after the first two Indy races, but we bounced back with a strong showing and I drove like I needed to.”
The Gatornationals comes during an insane stretch for Jackson. Starting with the U.S. Nationals and ending with the NHRA finale in Vegas on Nov. 1, Jackson will race seven times. Four of those will be in Pro Mod and the other three in RvW and he’s off to a 2-0 start. Next up is making a statement in front of what Jackson believes will be an excited fanbase in Gainesville this weekend.
“What has blown my mind is the fans’ thirst for the sport in a year like this,” Jackson said. “They’ve just been so excited to see us compete this year and that means a lot. When you add the glory and the passion of the Gatornationals, it just adds to it. The fans at this race have a hunger and passion for the sport and Pro Mod racing, and I’m proud to be a part of this class.”
The first of two E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service qualifying sessions takes place at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, with the final session taking place at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday. The first round of Pro Mod eliminations are scheduled for 12:40 p.m. on Sunday.