Amalie Oil North American Nationals
SUNDAY - Nobile scores emotional Sunoco Pro Stock victory; Litton, Musi and Sickles win at IHRA North American Nationals
(9-12-2004) - John Nobile successfully closed out the most inspirational story of the 2004 Hooters IHRA Drag Racing Series as he took his first career Sunoco Pro Stock national event victory during the 9th annual Amalie Oil IHRA North American Nationals presented by Auto Value at New England Dragway in Epping, NH. Joining Nobile in the winner’s circle was Bruce Litton (Top Fuel), Pat Musi (Pro Modified) and Jim Sickles (Funny Car).
Nobile, of Dix Hills, NY., rode a rollercoaster of emotions over the course of the weekend after receiving a phone call on Thursday evening notifying him that longtime friend Bob Losordo had passed away following a fifteen-year bout with Cystic Fibrosis. The veteran driver made one qualifying shot on Friday and then left the track that afternoon to drive home to pay respects to his fallen friend. Nobile’s single effort was a very impressive one as he went to the top of the provisional qualifying ladder.
The run held up as the pole position until the final qualifying session. Nobile intended to devote all of Saturday to attending Losordo’s wake. However, the schedule opened up, which enabled Nobile to charter a flight back home in time to run Saturday’s evening session.
Never has a driver been more determined to gain a victory than Nobile was this weekend. He wanted this victory for his friend. When it was said and done, Nobile had defeated low qualifier and first-time finalist Rob Mansfield in the final round of Sunoco Pro Stock.
“I knew in my heart that I needed to win this race for my friend Bob Losordo,” said Nobile. “This victory is for him. We experienced a lot over the course of the weekend and I don’t know that I could have written a better script than the one that transpired this weekend.
“This victory is also for my crew chief Kenny Sevier, me and all of the guys that work on this team. My family deserves to be credited here, too; they are just as responsible. We knew that our first win was coming one day, and it was a very special one this weekend.”
As Nobile’s eyes welled up with tears, he explained how he plans to attend Losordo’s funeral tomorrow, where he will place his only Ironman in the casket.
Nobile’s miraculous journey to the Promised Land began with a convincing victory over John Bartunek before taking out Robert Patrick in the quarter-finals. Nobile advanced to the finals by outrunning Carl Baker.
For his part, Mansfield etched a place in history with the quickest run ever in qualifying, a 6.425. He reached the final round on the strength of victories over Larry O’Brien, Richard Penland and Steve Spiess.
In Pro Modified, Musi put on a driving clinic as he scored his first career victory since entering the class in 2003. Musi is a multi-time champion in NSCA Pro Street competition, and is also credited with being a nine-time IHRA Sunoco Pro Stock finalist.
Musi, of Carteret, NJ., stopped local favorite Steve Salvadore of Barre, Ma., in an all-‘57 Chevrolet final round. His fourth career national event title came as a pleasant surprise.
“We were consistent all day and made the right calls when we needed to,” Musi said. “This is a new chapter in my racing career and winning this race is a great addition to what we’ve already accomplished.”
Musi started from the 15th spot on the qualifying grid and systematically stopped such names as Mike Castellana, point leader Mike Janis and Jim Halsey to reach the final round.
On the other side of the ladder, Salvadore traveled to the finals via the 12th qualifying position by taking out Billy Harper, Charles Carpenter and low qualifier Rick DiStefano.
The Top Fuel division was decided on a single run as Litton scored his first victory of the 2004 season when “Turbo” Tim Cullinan couldn’t make the call for the final round. This marked the first victory for the Lucas Oil-sponsored Litton since opening the year with a devastating crash in San Antonio during Top Fuel semi-finals.
“We certainly worked hard this weekend, and there’s no doubt that we broke a lot of parts,” Litton said. “This is more parts than I think I have broken any other weekend, but through it all God was good to us and blessed us. We had a safe car, hurt a few tires and it all managed to stay together to get this win. I’m very thankful to Lucas Oil and everyone on the car.”
Litton, from Indianapolis, entered eliminations as the fifth qualifier and opened with a 4.806, 302.96 to stop Rick Cooper. The semi-finals proved to be costly as Litton popped the supercharger at the finish line in his victory over points leader Clay Millican.
Cullinan gave it a valiant effort by entering eliminations as the seventh qualifier. He used a 4.774, 314.97 to upset a quicker-qualified Bobby Lagana, Jr. Cullinan turned up the wick with a 4.765, 300.06 thrashing of Toronto winner Doug Foley.
Sickles kept the momentum rolling in his favor as he won his third Funny Car national event victory in four races dating back to last season. Every time the Meyer’s RV-sponsored team have entered a Hooters IHRA Drag Racing Series event they have reached the final round.
The latest victory for Sickles and tuner Tom Anderson came at the expense of defending IHRA World Champion Rob Atchison.
“We certainly had a golden horseshoe this weekend,” Sickles admitted. “Over the last two years we didn’t use up too much of our luck, but we sure did this weekend. We won despite not being on the best game that we had to offer.”
Sickles, of Caledonia, NY., admittedly struggled through the day after qualifying third. He defeated Bill Naves, Fred Tigges and Mark Thomas to earn his second win of 2004.
Atchison entered eliminations perched atop the field in the pole position and quickly became a shoo-in for the finals with convincing wins over James Libby, Scott Wildgust and the Amalie Oil-sponsored Terry McMillen.
The next event on the twelve-race IHRA Hooters Drag Racing Series is scheduled for the weekend of September 24 – 26 in Budds Creek, Md. The 13th annual President’s Cup Nationals is the eleventh stop on the tour and will be hosted by Maryland International Raceway.
SUNDAY NOTES – Announcer follies, Pt. 2, that cagey Musi and modern day Modified Production rules in Super Stock…
(9-12-2004) - Be Careful what you announce – When an announcer makes a plea for someone to move a car, the first order of importance should be in making sure the car isn’t their own rental car. That was the hard lesson that IHRA’s VP and golden-tongued announcer Aaron Polburn found out.
“If you own a white Toyota and it’s parked in the wrong place, then you might want to move it or I promise you, we will move it for you. And, you don’t want us to do that,” Polburn barked over the PA system.
As it turned out, that car belonged to Polburn.
Polburn added, “Thought I’d park where no one else was at since someone was parked in my spot. So, I went outside the gate and parked where no one else was. It’s the ultimate fairy tale. I parked it as a Pumpkin and came back to find a complete chariot.”
The chariot was the complete race operation of Pro Modified racer Jim Halsey. The towing bill for Polburn was $400.
Could they get their first? – Pat Musi has been to 13 finals, but that was in Pro Stock. John Nobile has five finals, but no wins. Then there’s Rob Mansfield and Steve Salvadore who have no final rounds whatsoever. Top Fuel’s Tim Cullinan has reached two finals with no success. The common denominator is they have all reached the final round.
Nobile's Points Figures - If Nobile wins the event, he could be ahead in the Sunoco Pro Stock point standings by 19 points. However, if he loses he could be one point behind John Montecalvo.
Speaking of Halsey – Did you know headed into the first round of eliminations on Sunday that his Camaro was the only undefeated car on the grounds at New England Dragway? Prior to winning last week’s NHRA U.S. Nationals, Halsey had scored a Quick Eight victory at the track he owns in Maryland – Cecil County Dragway.
Jus’ like the old Modified days – If you loved those old days of Modified Production, then the Super Stock low qualifier would have tickled your fancy. Scott Gove loves his SS/A Modified Dodge Daytona because it provides him with the opportunity to be the quickest Super Stocker on the grounds on any given weekend.
Gove built the machine from a salvage car and shoehorned an ex-Todd Patterson Pro Stock Truck engine between the fenders complete with heads formerly used by Dale Eaton.
Gove went through the gearbox with extreme precision as he nailed down the top spot with an 8.275, -1.275 under the class index. Since world records are only established at divisional events, Michael Lyons holds the class mark with an 8.642.
Upsets abound in first round – The first round of Sunoco Pro Stock kicked off while the adjusted altitude was just as close to sea level as it was on Saturday evening. That provided at least four 6.40s at the hands of Richard Penland (6.486), Elijah Morton (6.482), John Nobile (6.487) and Robert Patrick (6.490).
All are already members of the Quartermax 6.40s Club sponsored by Rick Jones. Jones rewards each member $1,000 for their efforts. However, Jones seems to be getting a close-up view of his money being spent. At Martin, Jones was in the opposite lane when winner Frank Gugliotta not only joined the club, but also beat him in the final round.
In the first round, newly christened member Penland beat Jones with…you guessed it…a 6.4-second run.
You again? – Pete Berner just can’t seem to meet new faces in eliminations. Just one event ago, he met Steve Spiess in the semi-finals of the Sunoco Pro Stock Shootout. Berner matched up Spiess again in the first round, but this time he lost. Here’s the kicker. If Berner had won the first round, he would have met Elijah Morton. Berner raced Morton twice at Norwalk and beat him in both the Sunoco Pro Stock Shootout and the first round of eliminations before the rains set in.
Yo Dude wake up – Sunoco Pro Stock racer Larry O’Brien had the dubious honor of scoring the slowest reaction time of the event, and possibly the season. O’Brien posted a 4.165 reaction time against low qualifier Rob Mansfield in the first round.
Gains and squandered opportunities – Headed into this event at least four drivers had the opportunity to wrestle the Sunoco Pro Stock points lead away from leader John Montecalvo. When Brian Gahm fell in the first round and Morton in the quarters, it opened the door for Nobile, who is running with extra inspiration this weekend.
Halsey’s Dilemma – Sometimes keeping an unblemished record can bring forth trying circumstances. Pro Modified racer Jim Halsey had problems getting the car started. The crew removed the front end and frantically thrashed on it. In a scene that showed the resolve of the team, the car started and Halsey rolled to the line in time to outreact opponent Shannon Jenkins, who had patiently waited for his opponent to do a short burnout. Halsey scored the victory with a pedaling 6.816, 214.72. Jenkins shook the tires and ended up crossing the centerline.
That Cagey Musi – What’s a veteran driver to do when he’s most certainly got the odds against him and they keep getting worse. If you’re Pat Musi, who has more than a decade’s worth of experience racing in the Pro Stock and Pro Street divisions, you bring the game into your arena. Musi, who is running in a nitrous Pro Modified, entered eliminations as the 15th qualifier. That didn’t deter Musi from taking out No. 2 qualifier Mike Castellana, but his most impressive performance was in the quarter-finals.
Musi drew point leader Mike Janis into a staging battle that lasted well beyond 30 seconds. When Janis finally brought an end to the standoff by rapping his throttle, he grabbed the holeshot but could only look on helplessly as his Corvette shook the tires. Musi pulled away to win with a 6.349, 211.43.
Leave it to the shoeboxes – There were four matches in the Pro Modified quarter-finals, but there was one that had nostalgic implications. While most of the cars in three of the pairs struggled to find the right combination, it was the match-up of classic mid-Fifties Bel-Airs that provided an epic battle as Steve Salvadore’s ’57 model topped Charles Carpenter’s ageless ’55 in the quickest side-by-side match of the quarters.
The tough break went to Carpenter, who scored a personal best in qualifying and then had the second quickest lap in a losing effort.
Aren’t we up North? – Spotted on the
back of a shirt with a confederate flag emblazoned on the back,
“Git her drunk, git it done.” As if that wasn’t
enough, the back of his hat asked, “Have you ever?”
round-by-round results from the Ninth annual Amalie Oil North American
ROUND ONE -- Bruce Litton, 4.806, 302.96 def. Rick Cooper, 7.382, 110.46; Doug Foley, 4.740, 314.90 def. Louie Allison, 4.842, 301.94; Tim Cullinan, 4.774, 314.97 def. Bobby Lagana Jr., 8.608, 88.37; Clay Millican, 4.691, 311.27 def. Todd Paton, 4.841, 299.26;
SEMIFINALS -- Cullinan, 4.765, 300.06 def. Foley, 5.981, 153.40; Litton, 5.355, 217.00 def. Millican, 7.271, 113.58;
FINAL -- Litton, 10.320, 78.13 def. Cullinan, broke.
ROUND ONE -- Rick DiStefano, Chevy Corvette, 6.161, 229.31 def. Eddie Ware, Willys, 6.396, 220.58; Jim Halsey, Chevy Camaro, 6.265, 223.47 def. Quain Stott, Corvette, 11.827, 69.80; Shannon Jenkins, Camaro, 6.781, 220.94 def. Pat Moore, Chevy Bel Air, 13.153, 69.03; Pat Musi, Bel Air, 6.513, 212.53 def. Mike Castellana, Camaro, 6.716, 224.14; Charles Carpenter, Bel Air, 6.348, 221.16 def. Mitch Stott, Corvette, 6.485, 224.47; Mike Janis, Corvette, 6.230, 228.92 def. Steve Vick, Camaro, 9.628, 97.78; Steve Salvadore, Bel Air, 6.195, 230.10 def. Billy Harper, Dodge Viper, 6.243, 225.52; Al Billes, Corvette, 6.504, 225.30 def. Harold Martin, Pontiac Grand Am, 8.341, 117.73;
QUARTERFINALS -- DiStefano, 6.427, 228.69 def. Billes, 8.016, 115.67; Halsey, 6.816, 214.72 def. Jenkins, broke; Musi, 6.349, 211.43 def. Janis, 6.422, 227.57; Salvadore, 6.257, 229.16 def. Carpenter, 6.334, 223.36;
SEMIFINALS -- Musi, 6.318, 219.19 def. Halsey, 6.294, 221.52; Salvadore, 6.286, 228.34 def. DiStefano, 11.870, 70.06;
FINAL -- Musi, 6.309, 208.14 def. Salvadore, 7.303, 131.00.
ROUND ONE -- Rob Atchison, Pontiac Firebird, 6.010, 230.02 def. James Libby, Chevy Corvette, 6.618, 202.48; Mark Thomas, Dodge Avenger, 5.855, 237.63 def. Jean-Guy Genest, Dodge Daytona, 6.203, 218.69; Jim Sickles, Avenger, 6.234, 214.86 def. Bill Naves, Firebird, 12.205, 68.83; Terry McMillen, Avenger, 5.940, 236.55 def. Dave Ray, Ford Mustang, 6.071, 233.52; Terry Munroe, Firebird, 6.012, 239.87 def. George McNeil, Oldsmobile Cutlass, 12.310, 64.35; Fred Tigges, Chevy Camaro, 6.007, 237.63 def. Larry Dobbs, Corvette, foul; David Rowe, Cutlass, 6.024, 235.31 def. Bunny Burkett, Avenger, 5.944, 238.47; Scott Wildgust, Firebird, 5.973, 236.13 def. Jeff Burnett, Firebird, 8.125, 110.61;
QUARTERFINALS -- Thomas, 5.873, 239.78 def. Rowe, 5.918, 236.84; McMillen, 5.976, 238.51 def. Munroe, 8.184, 93.89; Atchison, 5.893, 237.71 def. Wildgust, 5.985, 235.56; Sickles, 5.939, 238.68 def. Tigges, 5.948, 238.43;
SEMIFINALS -- Sickles, 5.963, 237.71 def. Thomas, 6.054, 227.88; Atchison, 5.871, 238.89 def. McMillen, 5.949, 238.47;
FINAL -- Sickles, 6.051, 236.42 def. Atchison, 13.924, 41.82.
ROUND ONE -- Richard Penland, Ford Mustang, 6.486, 213.06 def. Rick Jones, Dodge Stratus, 7.063, 153.82; Carl Baker, Mercury Cougar, 6.521, 213.98 def. Frank Gugliotta, Ford Escort, 12.855, 80.57; Robert Patrick, Mustang, 6.490, 212.63 def. Chuck DeMory, Escort, 6.509, 213.54; Elijah Morton, Mustang, 6.482, 212.96 def. Mike Bell, Ford ZX2, 6.587, 212.83; Rob Mansfield, Pontiac Grand Am, 6.502, 214.86 def. Larry O'Brien, Stratus, 9.078, 91.48; Tony Gillig, Mustang, 6.557, 211.39 def. Brian Gahm, Mustang, 10.995, 80.26; Steve Spiess, Chevy Cavalier, 6.523, 213.98 def. Pete Berner, Mustang, foul; John Nobile, ZX2, 6.487, 214.21 def. John Bartunek, Grand Am, 6.541, 211.33;
QUARTERFINALS -- Baker, 6.544, 215.03 def. Gillig, 19.271,
30.91; Mansfield, 6.509, 214.69 def. Penland, foul; Nobile, 6.501,
214.89 def. Patrick, 6.553, 213.37; Spiess, 6.504, 215.17 def.
SEMIFINALS -- Mansfield, 6.517, 215.03 def. Spiess, 11.370, 77.41; Nobile, 6.513, 215.13 def. Baker, 6.581, 206.80;
FINAL -- Nobile, 6.511, 215.44 def. Mansfield, 6.497, 215.24.
SATURDAY – Millican leads Epping Top Fuel; DiStefano, Atchison and Mansfield lead pro classes
(9-11-2004) - Clay Millican rebounded from a dismal opening qualifying session to pace the Top Fuel field headed into Sunday’s final eliminations. Rick DiStefano (Pro Modified), Rob Atchison (Funny Car) and Rob Mansfield (Sunoco Pro Stock) were professional low qualifiers at the 9th annual Amalie Oil North American Nationals in Epping, NH.
Millican, of Drummonds, Tenn., drove the Werner Enterprises Top Fuel dragster to the quickest elapsed time on Saturday evening’s final qualifying session. Millican ran a 4.682, 314.28 to pace the eight-car field.
Bobby Lagana, Jr., was the second quickest with a personal best of 4.727, 309.34.
Todd Paton rounded out the field with a 4.876, 304.19.
DiStefano, of Calgary, Alberta, maintained his top spot in Pro Modified on the strength of his Friday run of 6.146, 230.80. On his Saturday night attempt, he pulled within .001 with a 6.147.
Mike Castellana missed the quickest nitrous run in history by .003 as he posted a mark of 6.156, 227.92 to leapfrog over teammate Shannon Jenkins for the second spot. Jenkins had posted a 6.173, 227.65.
Eddie Ware anchored the field with a 6.322.
Atchison, of London, Ontario, overtook point rival Mark Thomas in the final session for the top spot in Funny Car. The Erickson-sponsored driver recorded a 5.77, 239.70 to eclipse Thomas’ 5.802, which came just two pairs earlier.
Toronto winner Jim Sickles was third with the Meyer’s RV-sponsored entry. He produced a 5.884, 239.23.
Brian Harvanek was the 16th qualifier with a 7.126, 219.69.
Mansfield, of Margate, Fla., was on his game as he nailed down the Sunoco Pro Stock pole position for the second IHRA Hooters Drag Racing Series event in a row. The Wilson Manifolds-sponsored Mansfield recorded the quickest run ever at a national event as he posted a 6.425, 216.20. That run also set a speed record as well.
To secure the run as a world record, Mansfield must run within one-percent during Sunday’s final eliminations.
Defending World Champion Brian Gahm did back up the world record with a 6.442, 215.07. On Friday, he ran a 6.479 to fulfill the required confirmation.
Larry O’Brien sat on the bubble with a 6.544, 212.06.
First-round pairings for professional eliminations Sunday for
the Ninth annual
Top Fuel -- 1. Clay Millican, 4.682 seconds,
314.24 mph vs. 8. Todd Paton, 4.876, 304.19; 2. Bobby Lagana Jr.,
4.727, 309.34 vs. 7. Tim Cullinan, 4.851, 304.94; 3. Louie Allison,
Pro Modified -- 1. Rick DiStefano, Chevy Corvette,
6.146, 230.80 vs. 16. Eddie Ware,
Funny Car -- 1. Rob Atchison, Pontiac Firebird,
5.770, 239.70 vs. 16. Brian Harvanek, Firebird, 7.126, 219.69; 2.
Mark Thomas, Dodge Avenger, 5.802, 241.15 vs. 15. Jean-Guy Genest,
Dodge Daytona, 6.591, 198.06; 3. Jim Sickles, Avenger, 5.884, 239.23
vs. 14. Bill Naves, Firebird, 6.275, 226.54; 4. Terry McMillen,
Avenger, 5.923, 236.55 vs. 13. Dave Ray, Ford Mustang, 6.195, 235.84;
5. Terry Munroe, Firebird, 5.924, 235.84 vs. 12. George McNeil,
Pro Stock -- 1. Rob Mansfield, Pontiac Grand
Am, 6.425, 216.20 vs. 16. Larry O'Brien, Dodge Stratus, 6.544, 212.06;
2. Brian Gahm, Ford Mustang, 6.442, 215.07 vs. 15. Tony Gillig,
Mustang, 6.542, 211.83; 3. John Nobile, Ford ZX2, 6.453, 215.65
vs. 14. John Bartunek, Grand Am, 6.536, 211.06; 4. Elijah Morton,
Mustang, 6.468, 212.93 vs. 13. Mike Bell, ZX2, 6.527, 212.09; 5.
Pete Berner, Mustang, 6.469, 214.31 vs. 12. Steve Spiess, Chevy
Cavalier, 6.506, 214.21; 6. Robert Patrick, Mustang, 6.478, 212.83
vs. 11. Chuck DeMory, Ford Escort, 6.501, 213.91; 7. Carl Baker,
Mercury Cougar, 6.480, 214.55 vs. 10. Frank Gugliotta, Escort, 6.496,
213.91; 8. Richard Penland, Mustang, 6.489, 214.04 vs. 9. Rick Jones,
Stratus, 6.494, 214.79.
SATURDAY - Remembering 9/11, Incredible Sunoco Pro Stock session and Top Sportsman diversity
(9-11-2004) - Oh man - The first Saturday qualifying session for Sunoco Pro Stock may have fallen in the proverbial septic tank, but the evening one came out smelling like a rose. Under the lights, the Sunoco Pro Stock division at Epping tied the quickest-ever field in the history of the class with the top ten qualifiers in the 6.40s. Rob Mansfield paced the field with a 6.425, 216.20. Manfield's run put him into the Quartermax Pro Stock 6.40s Club.
Also joining Mansfield in the Quartermax 6.40s Club was Richard Penland (6.489) and Elijah Morton (6.468). New England Dragway has put more cars into the club than any stop on the tour.
Nobile returns - John Nobile made the heartfelt decision to return home for his fallen friend Bob Losordo’s wake. He never anticipated returning until Sunday, but schedules permitted Nobile to pay his respects and then charter a flight for his family to return.
“We made a last minute decision to come back and try to go really fast,” explained Nobile. “I would really like to win this race more than any other one. The last thing he told me before he died is, ‘Go win the race, Crackhead.”
Nobile feels in his heart that if the car hadn’t shook the tires in second gear that the car could have gone as quick as a 6.399.
Nobile hopes to win the event so he can honor his fallen friend
by having his Ironman placed in the coffin.
Remembering the day – Many drag racers remember the September 11 tragedy, but two of the IHRA’s race teams point out that it is a day they will never forget. John Montecalvo and John Nobile both reside on New York’s Long Island and the memories are strong.
Although Nobile wasn’t around to share his feelings, his crew chief Kenny Sevier admitted the day is one that still burns with emotion in his heart.
“When it first happened we were racing the NHRA Pro Stock class and John did a tribute to the victims on the hood of his car,” explained Sevier. “When you drive into the city as much as we do, it is still hard to fathom that the twin towers are gone. You look up and they aren’t there. It hits you right in the heart. The rest of the country has gotten back to normal, but we’ll never forget.”
Montecalvo, driver of the Citgo-sponsored entry, also finds it hard to let the day go by without feeling a bit of emotion.
“It’s like it was yesterday and the memories are very vivid in my brain,” said Montecalvo. “I can tell you exactly where I was and what I was doing.”
Montecalvo’s driver Tommy Sevier, who is Kenny’s brother, was actually returning home from this race in 2001 when he got stuck in the traffic related to the tragedy. He could see the buildings burning from the New Jersey turnpike.
“My heart goes out to everyone who lost a loved one or friend on that day,” Montecalvo said. “It touched everyone. And if you didn’t know anyone personally, you certainly knew a friend of a friend of a friend.”
All about the show – If you’re keeping up with the race on the Internet via our notes and photography then you might take notice of the maze of metal bars forming a square just 50 feet behind the burnout box. The stage will have a curtain that will be raised at the beginning of each class and lower when it is complete. This is just the start of the pre-race promotions the folks at the IHRA have in store through their association from Clear Channel.
“We are trying to continually trying to improve our show,” explained IHRA Vice President Aaron Polburn. “This is something that will improve our stage. Hopefully every race we go to will be bigger and brighter with some awesome actors. We have some pretty damn good actors on our stage, too.”
Time will tell how well it withstands the thrust of Bob Motz’s jet-powered Kenworth. A pool has already developed in the pressroom with members laying down their bets as to whether it will survive or not.
Oddball combinations – The Top Sportsman division, the IHRA’s version of bracket racing doorslammers, is returning to its roots of oddball combinations and fast motors. For instance, if your idea of a neat ride is a supercharged 1980 Malibu wagon or a nitrous-injected El Camino or maybe a mountain motor-equipped 1972 Malibu, this is the class for you.
Of the aforementioned cars, it was the Malibu Wagon of Rochester, New York’s Tony Rubert that proved to be the quickest. The interesting thing about Rubert’s “Grocery Getter” is that it used to be a street-driven car with a six-cylinder engine. Rubert used a 6.984, 194.63 making it unofficially the quickest and fastest of its body style.
Wrong Address Dude – Returning from the scales prior to his first qualifying run, Sunoco Pro Stock points leader John Montecalvo accidentally made a wrong turn and almost ended up in friendly rival John Nobile’s pit area. An obviously embarrassed Montecalvo smiled and uttered, “I saw the New York tags on the trailer and it fooled me.”
New King of the one-liners – That would be Todd Paton, who made the switch to Top Fuel from the nitro Funny Cars.
On how he plans to avoid oildowns – “I’m not going to put any oil in the car.”
On how tall he is (during a radio interview) – “5’ 8” if I wear my wife’s heels.”
On the tire chunking problem and if he’s experiencing problems with the tires – “You have to make it to the finish line under power to experience that.”
On how he feels about getting only two qualifying shots at Epping - "That's fine with me, I always seemed to get bumped on the third one."
Pew-weeeee – After the first session of Top Fuel, only five of the eight qualifiers would have qualified in the Top Dragster field two weeks ago in Norwalk, Ohio.
Tricky Track – After resetting three track records on Friday evening, Saturday’s first session provided a much larger challenge. Barely 20% of the professional cars managed to make it to the finish line under power.
The winner of the unofficial “square peg in a round hole” award was Top Fuel racer Clay Millican, who smoked the tires from the eighth-mile mark through the finish line and made the field with a 5.903, 224.21. Millican later admitted that he didn’t know he was smoking the tires.
FRIDAY – Canadians dominate Friday qualifying; Nobile establishes quickest-ever Sunoco Pro Stock lap
(9-10-2004) - Canadians Rick DiStefano and Rob Atchison were the tops in their respective classes following the first day of qualifying for the Amalie Oil IHRA North American Nationals hosted by New England Dragway in Epping, NH. Sunoco Pro Stock racer John Nobile also unofficially established a new class record in the single session.
DiStefano, of Calgary, Alberta, paced the Pro Modified division with a track record 6.146, 230.80. He was closely trailed by the nitrous team of Shannon Jenkins (6.173) and Mike Castellana (6.192).
Another Canadian, Al Billes sat on the bump spot with an off-pace 9.450.
Atchison, of London, Ontario, was the quickest of the Funny Car drivers as he nailed down a pass of 5.806, 237.30. Caledonia, New York-based Jim Sickles was second with a 5.884.
In Sunoco Pro Stock, Nobile obliterated the track record by nearly .07 as he blasted out an E.T. of 6.453, eclipsing Brian Gahm’s 2003 best, a 6.526. The Long Island, NY.-based driver also posted a new track speed record with a 214.52.
Robert Patrick was second with a mark of 6.478, 212.83 that edged the 6.40 assaults of Brian Gahm (6.479) and Frank Gugliotta (6.496).
Qualifying continues tomorrow with professional sessions scheduled for 2 and 7 PM.
Results Friday after qualifying for the Ninth annual Amalie
Oil North American
FRIDAY NOTES - A true champion, the
Pro Modified rat race and announcer follies…
|John Nobile's pits are idle on Saturday morning while the competition prepares for qualifying.|
All About Being A Good Friend – There’s a lot more to Sunoco Pro Stock racer John Nobile’s pole-setting 6.453, 214.52 than it being the quickest run ever in the class. The run will serve as his only qualifying effort for the weekend. Nobile received a call on Thursday evening informing him that good friend Bob Losordo has passed away.
Nobile, who had visited Losordo many times in the hospital during his fifteen year battle with Cystic Fibrosis, knew he needed to get home for his friend’s funeral.
On Thursday evening, Nobile assembled his crew and informed them, “We’re either going to make it in today with a run that will last or we’re going home.” The team reportedly looked through old records from Epping to draw a baseline.
Nobile will return on Sunday for a chance to win his first national event title this season and to also back up that record.
Losordo raced for many years in the IHRA’s Pro Modified and Top Sportsman divisions.
Our hat’s off to Nobile for proving that there are still some people that know the things that are truly important.
|Former Pro Stock wrench Steven Cultrera and son Kyle have found a new home in Pro Modified.|
A Whole New World – Steven Cultrera knew this was going to be an interesting weekend when the car he was serving as crew chief on ended up going long into the sand. Cultrera, a 15-year veteran of class racing and five years of tuning Pro Stockers, is turning a new chapter in his career. Cultrera is serving as the crew chief for the supercharged Pro Modified entry of John Russo.
“It’s pretty cool and a lot different than Pro Stock,” admitted
Cultrera. “My son Kyle digs it a lot and we are having a ball. These cars require a lot of work and that’s fine, I like a challenge.
“Heading into this, I didn’t even know how to crank one of them.”
Cultrera joins Butch Peterson as another Pro Stock crew chief from the late-1990s who have ventured into Pro Modified.
Just as Cultrera was winding up the interview, a nearly foot-long rat ran through the pits, under the car where he was adjusting the clutch and escaped under the trailer. An unfazed Cultrera merely smiled and said, “We never saw rats run through the Pro Stock pits. This is gonna be interesting.”
No Top Fuel Friday – That’s the general rule when it comes to the tenth stop on the Hooters IHRA Drag Racing Series. IHRA President Bill Bader says the decision is just a matter of solid thinking and economics. The nitro cars are coming off of two major events (Norwalk and Indy) in a row and the decision to limit their runs makes more sense. Bader added the fact the race follows Labor Day weekend and a small crowd makes the decision even more sensible.
|Eddie Ware is feeling fortunate these days after his journey to Epping.|
God is his co-pilot – That’s what Pro Modified team owner Sammy Ware testifies these days. As if driving through the rainy conditions presented by Hurricane Frances from his Atlanta, Ga., base wasn’t enough, Ware nearly lost his trailer on one incident and the car on another. Upon leaving a truck stop outside of New York, Ware noticed a tire wobbling on the team’s trailer. Closer inspection revealed the wheel had actually broken a weld. However, the worst had yet to come. Inside the trailer, a battery on the golf cart had come apart and the acid dripped down on the car, covering it in battery acid. Fortunately, for the Wares, there was no damage to the beautiful paint on their supercharged 1941 Willys.
Ware was steadfast in his thanks to the good Lord above.
His son Eddie, who drives the car, was asked if they considered returning home.
“No way,” he said. “We figured we’d been through the worst already and it had to get easier from that point.”
Have to get up early to get one by him – During Super Stock class eliminations one of the announcers suggested, “He had a wheelstand with the wheels in the air.”
Patrick loves Epping – Sunoco Pro Stock racer Robert Patrick ranks Epping right up there with Norwalk in his list of favorite tracks. The Purvis Ford-sponsored driver has three wins to his credit at Norwalk. But, if he has a second choice it’s Epping. Patrick won his second career national event victory in 1993 at New England Dragway.
Patrick added, “You have to love the air here; it makes your car run fast when it isn’t even cranked.”
|Carl Baker has made it through seven years without any major engine damage to his Sunoco Pro Stocker.|
Baker’s Seven Year Itch – Carl Baker is feeling fortunate and bad at the same time. In seven years of running IHRA Sunoco Race Fuels Pro Stock Baker has managed to never suffer any major engine damage. The worst parts attrition that he experienced was a broken lifter. Not a single piston or anything else major, Baker admits. That streak of good fortunes expired in Norwalk, however.
What’s his secret been? It’s simple, and Baker follows a simple formula.
“I’d like to think I know where the edge of the envelope is,” Baker admitted. “The closer you get to it, the more expensive it gets.”
Baker took it one step further when he revealed that this will be his last year running the class, as his Summit sponsorship will expire following the final event in Rockingham. Even though its largely speculated that Baker’s deal was cut to make room for NHRA Pro Stock racer Greg Anderson, the past national event winner is thrilled beyond words for the opportunity he had for five years.
“If it wasn’t for Summit, I couldn’t have made it this far. We went further than we could have ever dreamed and I have them to thank for that.”
Baker’s not leaving the sport completely, however. He’s hoping to land a crew chief gig somewhere and while he wouldn’t divulge his leads, Baker points out that he has several irons in the fire. He also has a good sale going on.
“We’ll have a good 2002 Cougar for sale, as well as our entire operation. We’re selling it all.”
Potent One-Two Punch – Nevermind the fact that Rick DiStefano posted a 6.146, 230.80 to lead the first day of Pro Modified; the real runs that are signaling the start of a quick race were the one-two punch thrown by of Shannon Jenkins and Mike Castellana. Jenkins landed in second with a solid 6.173 while Castellana was right there with him at 6.192.
the Beginning: Vol 1, Iss 1
© Competitionplus 2004