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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Mike Janis may not be trying to put extra pressure on himself heading into the eighth of 10 races during the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series season.
But try as he might, it’s hard for Janis to ignore that he took over the points lead in the highly-competitive class heading into the final stretch of the 2015 season. It certainly means Janis is racing well, as evidenced by his win and final round appearance at the past two events, but it also means more pressure heading into this weekend’s eighth annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at state-of-the-art zMAX Dragway,
Janis, a Lancaster, N.Y. native, has accepted that and seems ready for the fact that a talented NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series field will all be chasing him in Charlotte.
“It’s definitely hard to block out,” Janis said. “We’re going to just try to race, do our thing, try to go round-by-round and win the race, but it’s a pretty big deal (to be the points leader). There’s definitely a lot of pressure but I just want to drive well and not let the team down. We’ve got a big fan base here in town and it’s hard to believe in a small town there’s so many people rooting for you.”
The NHRA Carolina Nationals marks the eighth of 10 races during the 2015 season. Troy Coughlin beat Janis in the final round a year ago, but it is now Janis who has the upper hand in his Jan-Cen Racing Chevrolet Camaro. He leads Coughlin by 52 points in a loaded field that also includes Don Walsh, who is 63 points back, Bob Rahaim, Bill Glidden, Rickie Smith, who has won the past two world championships, and rookie Troy Coughlin Jr.
All are less than 100 points behind Janis, meaning the four-time NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series winner still has work to do to claim his first world title. Janis is well aware of that and is locked in heading into Charlotte, even if it means slightly altering his approach.
“Obviously we want to try to qualify in the front half of the field and try to run the car hard like we always do,” Janis said. “We may not take any chances as far as hurting the car and things like that, but we’ve been working on that all week long, making sure everything is in order.”
Whatever Janis has done in recent weeks has obviously worked. He went to the final round at the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals and won the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series race before that in Norwalk. The win in Norwalk sent him from sixth to third and he took over the points lead in Indy. But knowing the competition he will have to face in Charlotte, Janis isn’t planning to let up.
“There’s a lot of good cars right behind us and it’s very close,” Janis said. “The guys are all charged up and hopefully we don’t have a letdown. We went into Norwalk way behind and you realize that in just one race you could be 100 points behind again. I just have to keep racing hard and hope things go my way.”
Even with a long layoff following the victory in Norwalk, Janis and his team picked up right where they left off in Indy. Carrying that momentum for nearly two months was impressive and Janis now hopes he can continue it for the next three races, especially since the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series will race next weekend in St. Louis as well. First up, though, is Charlotte and Janis is excited to head into the final three races knowing he has a car capable of winning races.
“We kept working on the car all summer and it was like we never even stopped,” Janis said. “It all came together well and we’ve got a good bunch of guys here that have been with me for years. It’s all about consistency and the car has been going down the track every time. We went back to our old set-up and it’s worked out well. We tested (well) at St. Louis so we’re looking forward to going there next week, and Charlotte should be good as well.”
Featuring the world’s fastest and most unique doorslammer race cars, the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series offers something for every kind of hot-rodding enthusiast. The growing class is highlighted by historic muscle cars, like ’67 Mustangs, ’68 Firebirds and ’69 Camaros, as well as a variety of late model American muscle cars. With more than 3,000 horsepower, the suspended door pro mod cars travel the quarter-mile in less than six seconds at speeds exceeding 250 mph
J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday at 2:30 and 4:45 p.m. with one final qualifying session on Saturday at 12:15 p.m. The first round will begin on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and continue on Sunday.
Fans can be a part of the action all weekend with a Three-Day Pass to the NHRA Carolina Nationals starting at $99. Tickets for children 13 and under are free with any paid adult ticket; to purchase general admission or reserved seats please visit www.zMAXDragway.com or call the box office at (800) 455-FANS (3267). For more information about NHRA, please visit www.NHRA.com.