Tonglet Finding His NHRA Potential

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L.E. Tonglet celebrates after earning his fourth NHRA Wally this season at the Texas Motorplex Sunday. (NHRA Photo)

L.E. Tonglet celebrates after earning his fourth NHRA Wally this season at the Texas Motorplex Sunday. (NHRA Photo)

ENNIS, Texas — L.E. Tonglet has an innocent face, an accent like gooey molasses, a lanky 5-foot-11, 130-pound body perfect for competing in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class, and, for a 20-year-old, a curious mix of hobbies such as movies, golf, skydiving, paintball, and day trading.

Now he has four National Hot Rod Ass’n Pro Stock Motorcycle victories in five final rounds. That includes three straight over points leader Andrew Hines in the money rounds, with his triumph Sunday in the O’Reilly Super Start Batteries Fall Nationals.

Tonglet rode Kenny Koretsky’s Nitro Fish Suzuki past a red-lighting Hines to a 6.972-second pass at 187.94 on the Texas Motorplex quarter-mile. With that, the rookie from Metairie, La., distinguished himself as the only undefeated competitor in the Countdown to the Championship.

“It’s unbelievable,” Tonglet said — the same thing he has said throughout his on-track battles with Hines and his Vance & Hines Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson V-Rod — and against the source of his horsepower.

“Our season’s turned upside down,” Tonglet said, recalling how Koretsky in August rescued his performance-strong but sponsorship-weak rookie-of-the-year bid.

However, Tonglet said cutting Hines’ lead in the standings from 66 to 44 points was hard work.

“I wasn’t feeling too confident Saturday night. We’ve been stumbling in qualifying,” the No. 6 qualifier said. “We didn’t find it [his motorcycle’s potential] until the second round. The bike really woke up. From then on,” he said, “our confidence all went up. My dad (crew chief and former racer Gary Tonglet) said, ‘We can do this.’”

He said he was “just happy to be in the semis. From there on out it’s a bonus. It didn’t matter whether we won or lost. We were still going to go home happy. The win makes it that much better. We’ll be happy with a top-three finish, but my dad says he’s hungry for that championship. He needs the money, he said. We have to keep this momentum going. We have to keep our heads straight and it should play out pretty good.”