Racing against someone he called the best driver in the class, Vincent Nobile certainly proved he belonged in that conversation after the finals of Sunday’s O’Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston.
In a Pro Stock final that easily lived up to its billing – at the start and at the finish – Nobile got the best of Dave Connolly and narrowly led from start to finish, thanks to a .009 reaction time and a run of 6.595 at 210.14 mph.
It was his first win in three final appearances in 2012, his fourth overall and second straight at RPR, though this one will certainly have a special place in Nobile’s memory.
“I’ve honestly looked up to Dave as a driver his whole career because he’s probably the best driver out here,” Nobile said. “He hasn’t been racing, he comes right back to it and he’s in a final round. That’s very impressive to me.
“Going up against Dave, you know you have to try your hardest. You can’t give anything up against him because if you’re a little late, he’ll steal that win against you.”
On Sunday, though, it was Connolly who was a “little late,” which is stunning considering he had a reaction time of .011.
It set up a phenomenal final round race between the two young standouts, both of whom are regarded as two of the top drivers on the tree.
Running for the just the fourth time since the start of 2011, Connolly finished with a 6.595 at 210.41 mph, but fell by a mere three feet to a overjoyed Nobile, who revealed the major adversity the team overcame after beating Mike Edwards with an unsettling 6.622 in the semifinals.
“It’s an amazing feeling. I really couldn’t do it without my crew. In the semifinals, we broke our motor and had to do a motor swap in that short time frame,” Nobile said.
“They did it and there was no flaws and they produced a really fast in the final round. I owe it all to them. I just did a small part cutting a good reaction time.”
The great reaction times happened all day, with Nobile having nothing worse than a .027.
But he caught his lucky break in the quarterfinals, a round after going 6.581 at 210.73 mph to beat Greg Stansfield to start his day.
In the second round, Nobile had tire shake and limped to the finish line in 15.277. But he still saw the win light thanks to an 0.045 red light from Larry Morgan.
Two rounds later, the Royal Purple Raceway crowd was entertained by another raucous celebration on the starting line from the Nobile team, which includes Vincent’s father.
“He’s taught me everything. We live through racing together. This win is a win for both of us. He always wanted to win a Wally but never really had the horsepower to do it, but definitely the talent. Now we have both together and we’re doing it together,” said Nobile, who moved to third in points.
“I like being under the radar. I’m not much of a spotlight kind of guy. If I win and it surprises people, I like that. I’m just out here having fun.”
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