Vincent Nobile became the youngest driver to win the K&N Horsepower Challenge, the special Pro Stock race-within-a-race bonus event, Saturday at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk.
In other racing action at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park, Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Johnny Gray (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock), and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) raced to the No. 1 qualifying spots in their respective categories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Sophomore-sensation Nobile, 21, used a holeshot start in his Mountain View Tire Dodge Avenger in the final round of the K&N Horsepower Challenge and powered to a 6.750-second run at 205.94 mph to hold off veteran Jason Line and pick up the win and $50,000. Nobile also outran Johnson and Mike Edwards in the first two rounds of the Challenge.
"It's not about the money,” Nobile said. “It's not even about the trophy. It's about the story. Winning the race meant winning a Toyota Tundra for Peggy [Peggy Coleman of Joplin, Mo.]. She lost her house in a tornado, and it's great to be able to give her something back. We've had a pretty freaky year going on. It's so similar to last year that it's unreal. We won Houston back-to-back, and now Norwalk is treating me well again. Hopefully, it will carry on to tomorrow and we can try to double-up."
In Top Fuel, Torrence remained on top of the field in his Capco Contractors dragster. Torrence's Friday performance of 3.829 at 319.98 gave him his second No. 1 qualifying position of the season.
"We tried to see what we could get away with today," Torrence said. "It's hard on the crew chief, driver, and team when it's this hot. I was sitting in my firesuit soaking wet. It helped us work on our hot weather tune-up for the Western Swing. Tomorrow should cool off quite a bit and give us different conditions to race in."
Gray took the top spot in Funny Car qualifying when he drove his Service Central Dodge Charger to a 4.094 run at 306.33. It’s Gray’s second No. 1 qualifier of the season and third of his career.
“I hope tomorrow’s not like today because obviously we weren’t stellar today," Gray said. "The Service Central/NTB car is a good race car. We’ve got a good tune-up for it. We tried to run too hard the first run this morning, and then this afternoon we had the thing lined up a little bit to the left, and it took off towards the center line, and when I tried to turn it to reel it back, it kind of upset it and knocked the tires loose. We’re good. We know what we did wrong, and we’ll go out tomorrow, and it should be a good day.”
Johnson held off a competitive class to take the top spot in Pro Stock. Johnson drove his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger to a 6.663 run at 207.34 to claim his sixth No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 24th of his career. He has two wins this season.
"We have a really good car, and we're going to make better decisions," said Johnson. "We stunk the place up today. We shot ourselves in the foot in the first round [of the K&N Horsepower Challenge special event]. My crew chief told me to go right when he meant for me to go left while I was backing up. After all these years, you find new ways to lose.”
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Hines raced to the No. 1 qualifying position. Hines rode his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a 6.961 second at 192.85 mph run to take his first No. 1 qualifier position of the year and the 31st of his career. Hines has won twice in Norwalk (2009, 2007) and two times this season.
“We just picked away at it all weekend long with our Screamin’ Eagle V-Rods," Hines said. "It’s just a testament to how good our team is. We started out Chicago last week with a different mindset of how we’re going to come in and tune these races in the summer. Last year, we’d be behind the eight-ball and not have good performance on Sunday, so we’re doing a completely different strategy than we would normally do, and it’s showing in our performance. We’re just picking away at it and steadily improving every single qualifier.”
Eliminations begin Sunday at 11 a.m.
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