FINAL; ROWE REPEATS AS ENGLISHTOWN CHAMPION
Danny Rowe raced to his second consecutive victory of the season Sunday in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx portion of the Toyota NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
Rowe defeated Troy Coughlin in the final round to take the victory. Coughlin fouled at the start in his JEGS.com ’68 Camaro, while Rowe finished in 5.910 at 239.57 in his supercharged Sterling Bridge ’68 Camaro.
In earlier rounds, Rowe defeated Jay Payne, Steve Matusek and top qualifier Mike Castellana. It was Rowe’s third career victory and his second win in a row at the historic New Jersey track.
With the win, Rowe increased his series lead to 30 points over second place Castellana.
The NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx continues June 15-17 with the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway.
Final round-by-round results from the 43rd annual Toyota NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, the fourth of 10 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx:
ROUND ONE -- Kenny Lang, Chevy Camaro, 5.937, 242.89 def. Donald Martin, Camaro, 6.017, 242.28; Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.934, 243.63 def. Roger Burgess, Chevy Corvette, 5.950, 248.39; Pete Farber, Dodge Daytona, 5.959, 245.45 def. Donald Walsh, Ford Mustang, 6.035, 229.78; Mike Janis, Mustang, 5.963, 221.71 def. Robert Patrick Jr., Mustang, 12.837, 89.00; Steve Matusek, Mustang, 5.971, 251.34 def. Chip King, Daytona, 8.589, 119.69; Danny Rowe, Camaro, 5.921, 242.84 def. Jay Payne, Camaro, foul; Troy Coughlin, Camaro, 5.937, 254.33 def. Leah Pruett, Mustang, 5.894, 251.91; Mike Castellana, Camaro, 5.890, 245.23 def. Kevin McCurdy, Camaro, 6.117, 219.54;
QUARTERFINALS -- Lang, 5.967, 242.32 def. Farber, 5.965, 246.08; Coughlin, 7.005, 162.88 def. Janis, broke; Rowe, 5.915, 246.57 def. Matusek, 6.048, 249.16; Castellana, 5.887, 245.58 def. Smith, 5.979, 240.04;
SEMIFINALS -- Coughlin, 5.915, 252.61 def. Lang, 6.161, 240.04; Rowe, 5.872, 248.25 def. Castellana, 5.901, 245.58;
FINAL -- Rowe, 5.910, 239.57 def. Coughlin, foul.
Point standings (top 10) following the 43rd annual Toyota NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, the fourth of 10 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx -
1. Danny Rowe, 331; 2. Mike Castellana, 301; 3. Rickie Smith, 260; 4. Leah Pruett, 238; 5. Troy Coughlin, 218; 6. Kenny Lang, 208; 7. (tie) Donald Martin, 203; Steve Matusek, 203; Donald Walsh, 203; 10. Pete Farber, 195.
SATURDAY NOTEBOOK: CASTELLANA SEEKING SECOND VICTORY OF SEASON AT TOYOTA NHRA SUPERNATIONALS
Top qualifier Mike Castellana raced to a first-round victory over Kevin McCurdy on Saturday during the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx portion of the Toyota NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
Native New Yorker Castellana, from Muttontown, powered his Al-Anabi Racing '69 Camaro to a winning first-round time of 5.890 seconds at 245.23 mph to hold off McCurdy's '68 Camaro, which trailed with a 6.117 at 219.54.
Earlier in the day Castellana claimed his third No. 1 qualifying position of the season and fourth of his career with a time of 5.856 at 245.72.
Other first-round winners included Kenny Lang, Rickie Smith, Pete Farber, Mike Janis, Steve Matusek, Danny Rowe and Troy Coughlin. The second and third qualifiers, Donald Martin and Leah Pruett, were upset in the opening round of racing. Chip King and Robert Patrick, who qualified fifth and sixth, also were upset in the first round.
The second round of eliminations for the fourth of 10 races in the Pro Mod Series will continue at approximately 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
In second round pairings, Castellana will continue his quest to earn his second win of the season against Smith, also a winner this season; series points leader Rowe will take on Matusek; Lang will meet Farber; and Coughlin will take on Janis.
MUCH NEEDED WIN - After a weekend of ups and downs behind the wheel of his JEGS.com Chevy Camaro Pro Mod car, Troy Coughlin finally got a smile of approval from tuner Steve Petty following a big first-round, holeshot victory over Leah Pruett on Saturday afternoon at the 43rd annual Toyota NHRA SuperNationals.
"We needed that win. We needed to go down that track fast," Coughlin said. "The guys did a good job, and it was the first time Steve smiled after a run this weekend. We'll fix every gremlin that's left and eventually it'll all work out."
Coughlin, the No. 14 qualifier, had a .040 reaction time against Pruett's .085 in a battle of turbocharged cars. Pruett had the better ET – a 5.894-second pass at 251.91 mph to Coughlin's 5.937 at 254.33 mph, but the edge he gained at the starting line was just enough for Coughlin to cross the finish line first.
"She's tough and you have to be on your game against her," Coughlin said. "Everyone is tough, but she's a top-two player and you can't cut her any slack.
"I can tell you this -- it doesn't take much for you to get your game going against a driver of her quality."
Coughlin, whose best qualifying lap was a 6.051 at 244.65 mph, now faces Mike Janis, who beat Robert Patrick Jr. in the first round. Janis ran a 5.963 at 221.71 mph to easily beat Patrick's aborted 12.837 at 89 mph.
"There have been bits and pieces we've missed here and there during the season," Coughlin said. "It's been a matter of fine-tuning from bumper to bumper trying to make this JEGS.com car happy. It's not been from a lack of effort from these guys to get it done, it's just taking time.
"This win today has been a big lift for everyone on the team. There's no reason we can't keep it going two or three more times tomorrow and really build momentum going into the rest of the season."
FRIDAY NOTEBOOK: DOORSLAMMERS CONVERGE ON RACEWAY PARK, JUST LIKE THE OLD DAYS
BACK TO THE PENTHOUSE, VIA THE OUTHOUSE - New Yorker Mike Castellana powered his nitrous-injected Al-Anabi Racing ’69 Camaro to the qualifying lead in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx portion of the Toyota NHRA SuperNationals Friday at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
Castellana’s first qualifying attempt was disqualified due to a tech violation, but he made up for it on his second attempt as his machine covered the quarter-mile distance in 5.856 seconds at 245.72 mph.
If his time stands through Saturday’s final qualifying session (1:45 p.m.) it would be his third No. 1 position of the season and fifth of his career. A runner-up at this event in 2010, Castellana is a three-time winner on the circuit including one victory this season, but has never won at his home track.
The only female competitor in the Pro Mod series, Leah Pruett, was second in her turbocharged ProCare Rx Ford Mustang with a 5.883 at 247.88. Donald Martin was third overall behind the wheel of his supercharged Sterling Bridge ’68 Camaro with a 5.898 at 247.07.
Martin’s teammate, series points leader Danny Rowe, was sixth in his identically prepared supercharged Sterling Bridge Camaro, posting a 5.910 at 246.44.
The first round of eliminations starts Saturday at 4:15 p.m. and Pro Mod eliminations continue Sunday at approximately 2:30 p.m.
NITROUS RUNS BOUNCED - Four nitrous-injected Pro Modified teams had their runs disqualified during the first qualifying session at the NHRA Toyota Supernationals in Englishtown, NJ.
Those drivers, Mike Castellana, Rickie Smith, Robert Patrick and Vinny Budano, were deemed guilty of a technical infraction. Multiple sources close to the teams confirmed their transgression was water injection into the intake manifold. A crew chief for one of the teams said the water injection was intended to cut down on engine detonation.
Multiple sources, including an NHRA official, confirmed the teams had presented the water injection to the NHRA for approval before the season. However, when the approval didn’t arrive prior to the first race, many of those teams, of the belief the process wasn’t a performance adder, went forward with the implementation.
Castellana ran a 5.869, in the quickest run of the first session, and followed up the disallowed run with an even quicker 5.856.
IN DEFENSE - Danny Rowe enters this weekend’s Toyota NHRA SuperNationals riding a wave of momentum. The Laguna Hills, Calif., native is coming off his first win of the season, is the current NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx points leader and the defending race winner at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
At the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in April, Rowe powered his Sterling Bridge ’67 Camaro to victory over Kenny Lang in the final round. This was the third career victory for Rowe and jump starts the beginning of the season for he and his team.
“Any time you get a win it puts confidence in the whole team,” Rowe said. “It also gives you an appreciation for all the hard work and dedication that my team has shown me, all of them: Jimmy, Junior, Karen, Darryl, Chop, Michael, and Donnie.”
In the first three races of the 2012 season, two different drivers have been No. 1 qualifiers and there have been three different winners. Rowe knows the field is wide open and success isn’t a guarantee each weekend.
“The NHRA Pro Mod Series has been crazy; every car that shows up has a shot at winning the race,” Rowe said. “You never know what is going to happen. The quality of the teams that are participating is world class. It seems every year different combinations have a little advantage. Last year it was the turbos; this year the nitrous cars have picked up and we are a little behind them. All we can do is keep working hard and try to stay competitive.”
Rowe has raced in the series since its inception in 2010 and in each of the two years he has finished just outside of the No. 1 position, including 31 points behind the champion last year. He enters the Toyota NHRA SuperNationals as the points leader by the narrowest of margins, one point, and the focus of the team is to continue racing each round as hard as they can.
“Every year we go out there with the goal of winning a championship, and this year is no different,” Rowe said. “We are dedicated to do whatever we can for us to make that happen.”
TOTAL RECALL - No matter how many times a drag racer wins, he or she seems to have an uncanny ability to remember every minute detail of each conquest. That's true for Pro Modified driver Troy Coughlin, who revels in the memories of his 2005 triumph here. "It was Fathers Day and my dad Jeg Sr., son T.J., and daughter Meghan were here with me, so pulling off that win under those circumstances was pretty darn special," he said. "It was also my first win in a Pro Mod car, which added another dimension to the celebration. Overall, it was probably the most satisfying single day of racing I've ever had, and I'll never forget it." Troy Coughlin also had one especially forgettable trip he made down the Raceway Park quarter-mile strip in 1997. "I remember beating Warren Johnson in the first round, and I was pumped up," he said. "We had George Marnell next and were running a good race when the car turned right on me and went over onto its roof. The good news was no one got hurt and I managed to stay away from George, but the car wasn't as shiny when they flipped it back over."
He'll be ready to make some more memories this weekend. "Pro Mods haven't raced in five weeks, so I'm sure everyone did the same thing we did, which was go home and get their race cars serviced and ready for the summer months. Although it's not supposed to be too hot this weekend, we went and tested in Atlanta to get a good baseline tune-up for the summer months. It was really hot there and our car responded well." He said crew chief Steve Petty and his team "just about have this JEGS.com Camaro figured out and we think we know what to do with the turbocharger. Englishtown will be a really good chance to find out exactly where we are in relation to everyone else."
SALUTE TO FIREFIGHTER - Veteran drag racing champion Jay Payne will carry the name of a very special firefighter on his FireIce Pro Modified car this weekend, saluting 21-year-old first responder Stephanie Cizek, of Columbia, Md. Cizek was off duty from her job with the Howard County Fire Department and was playing in a local soccer game when she aided another player, who was suffering a heart attack. Cizek performed CPR until medics arrived and transported the man to a nearby hospital, where he eventually made a full recovery. "This firefighter is only 21 years old, but she knew exactly what to do in the time of a critical emergency. It's only fitting that we let everyone know about Stephanie's story and give her name a 250-mph ride down the race track," Payne said. "We're honored to salute her and all the other first responders out there. One of the coolest things about the partnership we have with FireIce is the brotherhood of 1.1 million firefighters that have become a part of our racing family. It keeps everything we do in perspective and reminds us all of the wonderful and brave men and women who take care of the rest of us every day."
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