SUNDAY: DANNY ROWE SCORES ONE FOR THE SUPERCHARGED FRATERNITY
No. 3 qualifier Danny Rowe earned his first NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx victory of the 2012 season Sunday at the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway.
Rowe’s Sterling Bridge ’68 Chevy Camaro powered to a winning performance of 5.969 seconds at 244.43 mph in the final round of eliminations to beat Kenny Lang’s pass of 6.043 seconds at 238.51 mph.
Rowe defeated Mike Knowles, Troy Coughlin and Danny Walsh in earlier rounds en route to his first final round appearance of the season.
The next NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx event is the Toyota NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., May 31-June 3.
SATURDAY: UPSETS ABOUND IN FIRST ROUND
No. 3 qualifier Danny Rowe advanced his Sterling Bridge ’68 Chevy Camaro to the second round of eliminations and was among the first-round winners Saturday in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx portion of the O'ReillyAuto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway.
Rowe’s 5.951 second pass at 244.92 mph was too much for first-round opponent Mike Knowles, whose '68 Camaro lost traction almost immediately and coasted across the finish line at 11.413 at 78.30. Rowe will face Troy Coughlin in round two Sunday. Coughlin defeated Leah Pruett to advance.
Defending event winner and No. 1 qualifier Mike Castellana was upset in the opening round of eliminations by Steve Matusek. No. 2 qualifier Rickie Smith also lost in round one to Donald Walsh.
Other second-round pairings include Brad Brand v. Kenny Lang, Walsh v. Pete Farber, and Matusek will get a bye run.
Eliminations for the Pro Mod series will continue on Sunday at approximately 2 p.m.
Saturday's first-round eliminations results for the NHRA Pro Mod Series presented by ProCare Rx at the 25th annual O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Royal Purple Raceway, the third of 10 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Series presented by ProCare Rx.
ROUND ONE -- Pete Farber, Dodge Daytona, 6.052, 244.87 def. Donald Martin, Chevy Camaro, 6.338, 233.24; Troy Coughlin, Camaro, 5.997, 247.70 def. Leah Pruett, Ford Mustang, 5.972, 249.86; Kenny Lang, Camaro, 5.995, 239.95 def. Jay Payne, Camaro, 9.974, 89.93; Brad Brand, Chevy Corvette, 5.977, 245.49 def. Chip King, Daytona, 6.074, 248.25; Danny Rowe, Camaro, 5.951, 244.92 def. Mike Knowles, Camaro, 11.413, 78.30; Donald Walsh, Mustang, 6.098, 247.34 def. Rickie Smith, Camaro, 15.686, 53.51; Steve Matusek, Mustang, 6.267, 226.20 def. Mike Castellana, Camaro, 6.613, 203.46.
FRIDAY NOTEBOOK: CASTELLANA LEADS FIRST DAY HOUSTON PM QUALIFYING
CASTELLANA RULES EARLY - Mike Castellana powered his Al-Anabi Racing Chevy Camaro to the top of the qualifying order Friday in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx portion of the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Royal Purple Raceway.
The defending event winner ran low E.T. during the opening round of qualifying and held onto the top spot through the second qualifying session. If he holds onto the No. 1 spot through Saturday, it will be the second of his career.
Veteran driver Rickie Smith trails Castellana with his 5.930 second pass at 242.15 mph, while Danny Rowe sits third with a 5.940 at 245.14. Kenny Lang is fourth with a 5.960 at 242.63 and Pete Farber is fifth with a 5.978 at 245.32.
The final qualifying session for the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx will take place on Saturday at 1 p.m. with the first round of eliminations scheduled for 4 p.m. Pro Mod eliminations will continue Sunday.
THE LEADERS - Friday's results after the first two of three rounds of qualifying for the 25th annual O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Royal Purple Raceway, third of 10 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Saturday's final eliminations.
1. Mike Castellana, Chevy Camaro, 5.899, 243.11; 2. Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.930, 242.15; 3. Danny Rowe, Camaro, 5.940, 245.14; 4. Kenny Lang, Camaro, 5.960, 242.63; 5. Pete Farber, Dodge Daytona, 5.978, 245.32; 6. Donald Martin, Camaro, 5.979, 244.47; 7. Brad Brand, Chevy Corvette, 6.000, 251.02; 8. Troy Coughlin, Camaro, 6.000, 248.52; 9. Leah Pruett, Ford Mustang, 6.008, 249.86; 10. Jay Payne, Camaro, 6.038, 238.89; 11. Chip King, Daytona, 6.039, 245.36; 12. Mike Knowles, Camaro, 6.064, 240.34; 13. Steve Matusek, Mustang, 6.132, 246.21; 14. Donald Walsh, Mustang, 7.639, 141.94.
SECOND CHANCE FOR PAYNE: Pro Mod driver Jay Payne had the parachute pop out of his Pro Mod Camaro about 10 feet after he left the starting line on the second qualifying session Friday.
Payne was granted a re-run following the completion of the Top Dragster qualifying.
“It appears there was a malfunction on the auto shut-off device, it was triggered by something we (NHRA) did, our people did,” said Graham Light, the NHRA’s senior vice president-racing operations. “In fairness, there is only 15 cars, so it is not going to bump somebody out of the show, so we let him have a re-run.”
Payne ran a 6.038-second lap on his re-run, qualifying him No. 10.
During Pro Mod’s second qualifying session Brad Brand, Donald Walsh and Steve Matusek all had their parachutes come out, but they came when they approached the waterbox.
“We gave them the time to repack and they did,” Light said.
CHASING THE NITROUS CARS - Danny Rowe laid down an impressive 5.940-second, 245.14mph quarter-mile pass in Friday’s second qualifying session behind only the two nitrous oxide-assisted Pro Mods of Rickie Smith and Mike Castellana, who have won the first two events of the season.
Heading into Saturday’s final qualifying session and opening round of eliminations, Rowe, who has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success at Royal Purple Raceway over the years, including back-to-back wins in 2009 and 2010, is justifiably confident, but well aware of the daunting task that lies ahead of his team on race day.
“After these first two races, we’ve really felt like we just needed to keep our heads down and keep picking at this thing – trying to pick up where we can and focus on having a consistent race car,” says Rowe, who contends against both turbocharged and nitrous oxide-injected race cars with his supercharged ’67 Camaro. “It’s always hard to move up on the qualifying sheet in that early Saturday session, so we’ll go out there, make a good run and see what happens, but really focus on getting through that first round of eliminations.
“We’ve had some really great seasons these last few years, but it seems like there has always been a little misstep or bad luck scenario early in the season that ends up costing us later on. That said, we’re just taking it one round at a time and focusing on what we have to do in that moment. If we can keep going rounds on race day, maybe put this Sterling Bridge hot rod in the winner’s circle on Sunday, the points will take care of themselves.”
Rowe, currently 4th in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series championship points, has a win-loss record of 10-1 over the last three years in Houston.
“This is a track that has been very good to us over the years,” says Rowe. “We always look forward to coming down here to Houston for the Spring Nationals. More than anything, I feel like we’re making a lot of really good runs right now – we’ve got a consistent race car. We certainly need to close the gap and catch up with these nitrous cars especially, but we’re feeling pretty good about things. Hey, with a little sunshine and a little good luck, we might be able to roll out of here on Sunday with a Wally.”
THURSDAY NOTEBOOK: GETTING READY FOR THE BIG DANCE
HOT STUFF - When the NHRA Pro Mod Series presented by ProCare Rx returns to action during the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, Mike Castellana will be returning to the site of his first professional Pro Mod victory riding a wave of success.
Castellana in his Al-Anabi Racing ’12 Camaro, is the defending winner at Royal Purple Raceway, which is the site of his first NHRA Pro Mod victory. The win has special meaning for him as it marked the return to NHRA racing after overcoming cancer.
“It was a good win for us,” Castellana said. “Not finishing the year before for health reasons it was good to come back and get a win at the first NHRA race we were entered (that season) so it was good feeling. We are familiar with the track; we race there a lot so we are coming into this race with a good bit of confidence.”
Since his return, Castellana has entered into eight NHRA Pro Mod presented by ProCare Rx events and has raced to the final round six times with three victories. During this streak the mindset hasn’t wavered for the team.
“Last year’s attitude was let’s just come out and enjoy ourselves,” Castellana continued. “We will come
out and race hard, but more importantly, just go out and enjoy ourselves and have a good weekend. It’s working, so I think we are going to stick with it. I owe it all to my crew really. They are the guys that do all the hard work, crew chief Shannon Jenkins and the team. They are the ones that give me this great car to race with and team owner Sheik Khalid Al Thani for giving us the resources to do it.”
He earned his most recent NHRA Wally with his victory at zMAX Dragway where he was to face Leah Pruett in the final round. Pruett wasn’t able to make it to the starting line due to engine damage suffered in her semi-final victory. Castellana and his team were excited for the win. The car ran a big number even though the other lane was empty and as a result the team obtained data they can use later in the season.
“We did change car a little bit and did some things we normally wouldn’t try,” he said. “It’s a sigh of relief because you know you’ve pretty much got the win unless something crazy goes on and the car doesn’t start, but it takes some of the joy away, the excitement. You know you won, but if you race someone and win it is more exciting.”
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