Nitro Fish Suzuki’s LE Tonglet won his first NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle event in five years at the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals and he did it the hard way by beating both of the dominant Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson V-Rods. Tonglet, who won the Mello Yello championship as a rookie, claimed his first win since the 2011 Brainerd round when he defeated reigning champ Andrew Hines in the final round. A round earlier, Tonglet also topped Hines teammate, Eddie Krawiec.
NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle
“Anytime you can beat one of those Harleys, you’ve done something but to beat both of them in the last two rounds, that just doesn’t happen very often,” Tonglet said. “It’s been five years since we last won a race and I’m just really happy to get another win for this Nitro Fish team.”
Tonglet manages to race in all 16 NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle events but during the week, he is a firefighter in his hometown of Metaire, La. His father, Gary, and older brother, GT, also work full-time jobs.
“People have to remember that we all work 40 hours-plus at home,” Tonglet said. “For a while, the racing was getting to the point where it wasn’t fun for us but we decided to make a few changes and now we’re winning again and its fun again. Whenever I pull to the starting line, my dad pats me on the back and says something to me. He always says something different and before the final he said, ‘Get me the [expletive] money. If you know him you know he’s got no filter so that wasn’t a surprise but I got the message.”
The Sonoma event had the quickest field of Pro Stock Motorcycles ever assembled with all 16 bikes qualifiers running quicker than 6.90-seconds. Tonglet’s 6.780 was not only the best run of his career, but also the second-best pass for a Suzuki. The Nitro Fish team was able to maintain that consistency on race day with a pair of 6.79 runs in his wins over Katie Sullivan and Lucas Oil Buell’s Hector Arana and two 6.81 passes to beat the Harley V-Rods of Krawiec and Hines.
“The last couple of races we’ve been struggling with our clutch,” Tonglet said. “My brother and I told our dad, ‘If you don’t get this clutch fixed, we’re taking it out of the bike and you’re off clutch duty. It worked today so now we can keep it. The big thing is that we’ve got some momentum now and we just need to keep it going. We had a good race in Denver a week ago so now we’re looking forward to the next on in Brainerd.”
On Saturday, the NHRA Pro Bike Battle was held and Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson’s Andrew Hines won the special event for the sixth time in his career. The race, which is an invitational event open to the top eight riders in the class based on qualifying results, pays $7,500 to the winner. Hines won the final round against teammate Krawiec, 6.775 to 6.811.
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BY KEVIN MCKENNA