- Castellana scores victory for nitrous contingent
at Route 66 Nationals
|Mike Castellana's Camaro topped Fred Hahn
in the final round.
(5-22-2004) - One can easily consider Mike Castellana
to be a clutch hitter after his performance during this weekend’s
fourth stop on the ten-race NHRA AMS Pro Modified Challenge tour.
The supermarket chain owner from Westbury, NY., won the AMS Pro
Modified Challenge portion of the NHRA Route 66 Nationals hosted
by Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill. His clutch hitting prowess came
at a time when the nitrous combination and their supercharged counterparts
were deadlocked at 14 victories apiece since the introduction of
the class to NHRA competition four years ago.
Consider the nitrous cars now to be one-up on their adversaries
and Castellana, a longtime nitrous advocate, was more than happy
to deliver to help the cause. His defeat of the top qualifier Fred
Hahn was a fitting conclusion to a good weekend.
“I could get used to this,” explained Castellana. “I
owe this victory to Shannon Jenkins and my crew. They are the real
winners here today. Every win you get is special, but to me, they
just keep getting more enjoyable.
|Mike Castellana's victory marked his third
career Pro Modified win and second in NHRA competition. Note
the opened nitrous bottles in the winner's circle.
“We just wanted to be the most consistent car out there and
I knew in order for that to work, I had to do my job on the starting
Castellana’s victory marked the third in his career and second
in NHRA AMS Pro Modified Challenge competition. His last NHRA victory
came last June in St. Louis, Mo.
One of the better rounds of AMS Pro Modified Challenge tour opened
with Zach Barklage getting the best of Thomas Patterson. Barklage
took advantage of Patterson’s starting line tardiness to further
extend a victory that yielded a 6.237, 230.72. Patterson was no
pushover as he absorbed the loss with a 6.256, 224.40.
Castellana opened his march to the finals with a major victory
as he took out the points leader Billes with a .04 holeshot and
extended it even more with a 6.217, 225.63. Billes slowed off of
his qualifying pace with a 6.290, 226.42.
|After laying down a .002 light in the
first round, Mike Ashley rolled the beams early in the semi-finals
and was disqualified.
The unofficial reaction time award went to New York Mortgage Banker
Mike Ashley as he blistered Shannon Jenkins with a .002 light. Ashley
had to fight his Mustang which drifted all over his lane en route
to 6.246, 226.85. Jenkins lost despite a quicker 6.232, 225.33.
Hahn showed an example of why he is certainly the driver to beat
in Chicago. Hahn outreacted Von Smith and distanced himself quickly
with the second six-teen of the weekend, a 6.185, 230.21. Smith
labored through with a losing 6.273, 227.46.
A scary moment ensued following Hahn’s victory as his parachute
malfunctioned and fell under his wheelie bar. Hahn used the full
compliment of shut-down area to bring his Corvette to a stop. The
rear brakes were glowing red as the safety crews at the top end
reached Hahn. Adding complexity to the issue, NHRA officials gave
the Pro Modified entries only 30 minutes of turnaround time with
impending thunderstorms threatening.
Castellana was in the first pair of semi-final combatants and what
promised to be a stout battle never materialized as Ashley rolled
the beams and fouled with a
-.230 reaction time. The winning time for Castellana was a 6.307,
|Al Billes, the only two-time winner thus
far this season, fell in the first round of competition.
On the other side of the ladder, Hahn gave a good example of why
he was the defending event and world champion. In the first round,
Hahn was the only driver in the six-teens and in the second round,
he didn’t need the performance advantage as much by winning
on a holeshot over Barklage. Hahn used .082 in starting line advantage
to successfully fend off Barklage by a 6.278 to 6.253 margin.
In the final round, Hahn rated the performance advantage. However,
Castellana had been brutal on the tree and continued his lightning-quick
prowess in the final round by reeling off a .017 light and stretching
out the lead to a 6.227, 225. Hahn absorbed the loss with a 6.285,
The next stop on the ten-race NHRA AMS Pro Modified Challenge tour
will be next month in Englishtown, NJ.
Sunday's final results from the fourth of 10 events on the
NHRA AMS Staff Leasing Pro Mod Challenge, an NHRA exhibition class,
being held at the seventh annual NHRA Route 66 Nationals at Route
ROUND ONE -- Zach Barklage, Pontiac Grand Am,
6.237, 230.72 def. Thomas Patterson, Willys, 6.256, 224.40; Mike
Castellana, Chevy Camaro, 6.217, 225.63 def. Al Billes, Chevy Corvette,
6.290, 226.43; Mike Ashley, Shelby Mustang, 6.246, 226.85 def. Shannon
Jenkins, Camaro, 6.232, 225.33; Fred Hahn, Corvette, 6.185, 230.21
def. Von Smith, Ford Mustang, 6.273, 227.46;
SEMIFINALS -- Castellana, 6.307, 200.71 def. Ashley,
foul; Hahn, 6.278, 229.00 def. Barklage, 6.253, 230.49;
FINALS -- Castellana, 6.227, 225.63 def. Hahn,
SATURDAY - Hahn
continues Chicago performance edge by leading a New York charge
|Fred Hahn continued his mastery of Route
(5-22-2004) - In case you didn’t notice,
following the third session of qualifying for the AMS Pro Modified
Challenge, Chicago was quickly claimed by New York. That was certainly
what transpired as Fred Hahn of Elma, NY., reigned supreme in qualifying
during the NHRA Route 66 Nationals. Hahn’s success was followed
up by fellow home state racers Mike Ashley of Melville, and Mike
Castellana of Westbury.
Hahn’s success marked his second consecutive AMS Pro Modified
Challenge pole this season and second career top qualifying effort
at Route 66 Raceway.
Hahn is the defending NHRA Route 66 Nationals champion and he gave
an example as to why with the only six-teen of qualifying with a
|Mike Castellana was the quickest of two
nitrous cars that made the eight-car field.
Thundering into the second position was Mike Ashley, who rebounded
from a DNQ in Bristol last month. Ashley scored a decisive victory
earlier this season in Houston from the pole position. He was unqualified
headed into Saturday’s first session. Ashley’s 6.208,
226.54 came alongside of Hahn’s pacesetting lap.
The quickest nitrous entry in NHRA AMS Pro Modified Challenge competition
was the third quickest as Mike Castellana was very impressive with
a 6.229, 224.47. Castellana has one victory to his credit and that
came last season in St. Louis.
Rounding out the top half of the field was Thomas Patterson with
a 6.240, 224.70.
The balance of the show was comprised of Zach Barklage (6.242),
Al Billes (6.258), Shannon Jenkins (6.262) and Von Smith (6.269).
Sunday’s first round match-ups include Hahn versus Smith,
Ashley versus Jenkins, Castellana versus Billes and Patterson versus
SATURDAY NOTES - The '63 Vettes or
lack therof; Only two perfect qualifiers and the tire shakes with
|A sort of drag racing unofficial history
was made when no '63 Corvettes qualified for Sunday's eliminations.
Ed Hoover was one of four drivers that came to Chicago with
a perfect record in 2004 qualified. He missed the cut this weekend.
Hell has frozen over – For the first time
since 1996 in Pro Modified competition, no 1963 Corvettes will take
part in final eliminations.
Kids say the darndest things – With Mike
Ashley on the outside looking in headed into the second day of qualifications,
young Justin Ashley was analyzing his Dad’s chances of qualifying
on Saturday. The elder Ashley heard all the scenarios and quickly
made the comment, “It doesn’t matter Justin if we get
in on Friday or Saturday, just as long as we get in. Besides, what’s
the difference in the two days?” Without hesitation, the observant
youth responded, “A good night’s sleep on Friday, Dad.”
The margin narrows – With just six events
left, only two of the four drivers that entered the event with an
unblemished qualifying effort will leave this weekend with their
personal accomplishment intact. When rains ended Saturday’s
qualifying prematurely, that eliminated Mitch Stott and Ed Hoover
from the list of fortunate drivers. Continuing into Englishtown
will be points leader Al Billes and Von Smith as the only two remaining.
The margin of competition? – For the Pro
Modified fans keeping score, the difference between the quickest
lap for the supercharged contingent and their nitrous contingent
was .038. With the adjusted altitude rated at nearly 3,000-feet,
if the 20% overdrive rules revision had been enacted, some speculate
the nitrous cars could have rated a nearly .07 performance edge.
He knows the shakes by heart – That’s
Brad Anderson’s claim to fame these days in campaigning a
Pro Modified car. The veteran alcohol Funny Car racing legend has
yet to get his Valvoline-sponsored Camaro, which is driven by son-in-law
Jay Payne, from point A to point B under full power. It’s
not for a lack of effort or fear to try something new. He’s
even gone as far as to put a new four-link under the car. He’s
not about to back away from the challenge and plans extensive testing
in the weeks to come.
Feast or Famine – That’s exactly what
Thomas Patterson predicted for his third qualifying run. Patterson
was the only driver to dip into the 6.20s during Friday’s
first session. However, during the second session, the car had an
obvious miss due to a bad spark plug. Patterson and his crew refined
their combination for Saturday’s session. In the staging lanes
Patterson made the comment, “Either this thing is going to
fly or she’s gonna shake the wheels off.” Patterson
nailed down the former and it vaulted him momentarily to the top
with a 6.240, 224.70. He ended up fourth at the end of the session.
Feels like the first time – In Bristol,
three drivers qualified for the first time in 2004. This time only
one driver qualified out of the unlucky fraternity and it was Shannon
Jenkins. Jenkins posted a 6.262 during Friday’s second session
and that was enough to hold on throughout a very quick Saturday
first session. Nine of the 22 cars entered into competition have
yet to qualify in 2004.
By the numbers – 8 – That’s
the number of world championships won by drivers that failed to
qualify this weekend. 6.387 – Bump spot if
this had been a 16-car field. .078 – Spread
between pole position to bump spot. 14 – 14 –
The scorecard between supercharged and nitrous entries
since the adoption of the class to the NHRA curriculum in 2001.
FRIDAY - Zach Barklage nails
the top spot after first day Chicago qualifying
|Zach Barklage rebounded from a Bristol
DNQ to land atop the Pro Modified qualifying order.
(5-21-2004) - Whoever made the statement that
old age and treachery will whip youth and enthusiasm obviously never
met nineteen-year old Zach Barklage. In fact, they might better
count their lucky stars that they never met him during first day
qualifying for the NHRA Route 66 Nationals in Chicago, Ill.
The sophomore Pro Modified racer from Lake Ozark, MO., pushed his
2004 Grand Am to the top spot during the final Friday qualifying
session with a 6.248, 230.02.
This day proved to be a diametric opposite from his last outing
in Bristol, Tenn., where he failed to make the cut.
“This certainly feels a lot better,” added Barklage.
“We had a few things go wrong and we chased some stuff in
Bristol and never got ahead of things. Today, we just got after
it and things fell into place.”
Barklage headed into the final session with a modest 6.341, 217.35
as the fourth quickest.
Fred Hahn continued to show the same form that netted him the 2003
NHRA AMS Pro Modified Championship. Hahn, the defending event champion,
missed the combination on his first attempt, but made up for it
in the second with a 6.258, 229.27.
Nitrous runner Shannon Jenkins was the quickest of the bottle rockets
as he landed third with a 6.262, 223.47. Jenkins was unqualified
headed into the final Friday session.
Rounding out the top half of the field was the only driver in the
6.20s during the first session. Patterson led the first session
of qualifying with a 6.270, 223.99.
The NHRA’s career quickest nitrous entry driven by Mike Castellana
settled into the fifth spot with a 6.276, 222.99. Castellana was
the only nitrous car to qualify three weeks ago in Bristol, Tenn.
Von Smith (6.286), Frankie Taylor (6.303), and Al Billes (6.307)
rounded out the program.
FRIDAY NOTES - The Perfect List narrowing?
Stivers has bad luck again and pitching in to help a friend
50% Casualty? – Headed into this weekend’s
event, only four drivers could claim to having qualified for all
three events to this point. With two qualifying session complete,
only Von Smith and Al Billes are in the show after the first day,
Ed Hoover and Mitch Stott are on the outside looking in.
Zero to Hero? – In Bristol, three of the
eight qualifiers in the field were competing in final eliminations
for the first time in 2004. During the first day, not only were
those three (Hahn, Mike Castellana and Thomas Patterson) qualified,
but also accounted for half of the entries in the 6.20s.
Bum Luck – Rick Stivers is convinced that
he can’t get a break. In what promises to be his last Pro
Modified event due to the recent rules change, Stivers had earned
his way into the field with a stout 6.32. However, Stivers failed
the post-run weigh-in by coming up seven pounds light at the scales.
Just to think it all started on Thursday when Stivers drew one of
the NHRA’s voluntary drug testing appointments. Reportedly,
a few other Pro Modified drivers were also selected.
Grace Race – Because many of the supercharged
cars couldn’t find pulleys to accommodate the recent 20% overdrive
limitation, the NHRA afforded one more race to the supercharged
contingent. Interestingly enough, after one day of qualifying there
were three nitrous cars in the field.
Lend a hand, please… - Chip King found himself
a bit overwhelmed when he rolled through the gates at Route 66 Raceway.
The veteran Mopar runner was without a crew and a tuner when Bill
Barrett couldn’t attend due to illness. Seeing the plight
of King, several members of Thomas Patterson’s crew (including
Patterson himself) chipping in to help King and his wife Wendy.