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Jun 26, 2014 - 04:17 PM
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2014 NHRA: Nitro Fish Team Shows Strength In Numbers In Joliet
Posted by: newsla on Jun 26, 2014 - 04:08 PM
2014 NHRA: Nitro Fish Team Shows Strength In Numbers In Joliet

Nitro Fish NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle rider LE Tonglet will return to the site of his first professional victory this weekend at the NHRA O’Reilly Route 66 Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet and he will be joined by a school of Nitro Fish entries including fellow Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Matt Smith, two-time Funny Car world champion Tony Pedregon, and the newest member of the Nitro Fish team, Pro Stock driver Mark Martino.


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Tonglet won the 2010 Joliet event, kick-starting an incredible rookie season that ultimately included the NHRA Mello Yello Series world championship. Tonglet returned to Joliet to successfully defend his title in 2011 and raced to a runner-up finish in 2012. All told, he has an enviable 13-3 record at the popular track. Not surprisingly, he lists it as his favorite track on the tour.

“This is the place where it all started for us,” said Tonglet. “I won my first race here and I’ll never forget it. Because of my work schedule, we’re not running all the races this year but I wasn’t going to miss this one. My dad [Gary] made sure that we’d be able to come back.”

Tonglet, who was recently hired by the Metairie, La. Fire Dept., has competed in just two events this season with his Nitro Fish Suzuki but has no doubts that he can compete with the rest of the riders in the class. Tonglet will once again be riding the unique aluminum-framed bike that his brother, GT, rode in 2011.

“I’m feeling really confident,” Tonglet said. “We went over the few runs we’ve made this year and believe that we’ve figured out a few things that should show up on the track. The aluminum-frame bike is very different, but we still believe it’s a better design and I think that people will see that this weekend.”

Two-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Matt Smith will also be wearing the Nitro Fish colors this weekend. Smith is coming off an historic husband-wife final round in Epping, N.H., where he finished as a runner-up to his wife, Angie. Matt Smith has steadily climbed the Mello Yello standings and is currently ranked No. 5 in the competitive class.

“All year we’ve had a bike that should be able to win races but it’s been one little thing after another,” Smith said. “We’re overdue for some good luck and this weekend would be a great time to turn things around. I’d love to win this race for Ken Korestky and Nitro Fish and all the rest of the people that support us.

Two-time Funny Car champion Tony Pedregon will also be sporting the Nitro Fish colors on his Toyota Funny Car. Pedregon’s performance has picked up in recent events, highlighted by a semifinal finish two weeks ago in Bristol, Tenn. Like Tonglet, Pedregon is also partial to Route 66 Raceway, having won four titles in 2002-2003, 2008-2009.

Canadian Pro Stock driver Martino will be making his 2014 debut in Joliet and will do so behind the wheel of a Nitro Fish Pontiac GXP which will be tuned by veteran crew chief Eddie Guarnaccia.

The O’Reilly Route 66 Nationals will take place at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., June 26-29. Pro qualifying will be held at 4:30 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday. Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

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