NORWALK, OH (September 24, 2011) – A year ago, Mike Castellana wasn’t sure he would be racing in 2011.
Now, the Pro Nitrous standout is on the verge of a world championship in the American Drag Racing League (ADRL).
Castellana had another race to remember on Saturday, running 3.799 at 197.42 miles per hour to knock off Stan Allen in a great side-by-side race during the finals of the Summit Racing Equipment Ohio Drags V at Summit Motorsports Park.
A year after being diagnosed with cancer, Castellana is now cancer-free and has four wins in 2011. The Al-Anabi Racing driver also maintains a near-insurmountable points lead heading into the final event of the season, the LenMar Motorsports World Finals, which takes place Oct. 21-23 at Texas Motorplex.
“I wasn’t even sure I was going to race this year,” Castellana said. “I was just happy to be here racing, and I came out and enjoyed myself all year. This team has just been unbelievable.”
Several other teams were just as impressive on a nearly-flawless day at Summit Motorsports Park where fans were treated to frenetic action and two world records. After rain wiped out the first day of the Summit Racing Equipment Ohio Drags V, Saturday started with two qualifying rounds and ended with unbelievable performances in eliminations.
Other winners included Alex Hossler (Pro Extreme), Grant McCrary (Extreme 10.5), Jeremy Teasley (Pro Extreme Motorcycle), Cary Goforth (Extreme Pro Stock), Scott Wasko (Summit Racing Equipment Top Sportsman) and Lee Adkins (Penske Truck Leasing Pro Modified).
Goforth set a new world record in XPS, going 4.037 en route to his event win, while Billy Vose set a new speed record in PXM at 180.77 mph.
Like Castellana, Goforth extended his points lead and now has a commanding advantage heading into the World Finals after going 4.069 at 177.62 mph in the finals against Doug Kirk.
“I’m very happy and very lucky to do this,” Goforth said. “I knew this win means a lot to my dad (Dean) and I really wanted to try hard and get this for him.
“This whole team deserves this. I’m so proud I can get this for them. They all deserve this.”
Castellana’s hold on the points lead in Pro Nitrous looked in danger after he didn’t qualify his ’69 Camaro at Dragstock VIII two weeks ago in Rockingham.
But Castellana rebounded in a major way in Norwalk, qualifying in the No. 12 spot and making improvements throughout. He knocked off Jeff Naiser with a 3.833 in the semifinals and then set a track record with his 3.799 against Allen, who just missed his second straight win.
“We stumbled in Rockingham and we were devastated,” crew chief Shannon Jenkins said. “We came back and raced like we know we can, and this is great.”
Goforth had similar sentiments after an incredible Saturday that saw him take the No. 1 qualifier spot, set a new world record and end with a win.
In a must-see semifinal matchup against Pete Berner, who is second in points, Goforth went a blistering 4.037 in his Jerry Haas Race Cars GXP to beat a red-lighting Berner.
“We’re lucky to be here and it would be a dream come true to win a championship,” Goforth said.
Hossler won’t win a world championship in Pro Extreme, but he did ensure a berth in the one-day “Battle For The Belts” shootout at the World Finals with his first win of 2011.
It didn’t come in dramatic fashion, as Joshua Hernandez went red just before Hossler’s belt broke on his Garrett Race Cars Al-Anabi Racing ’57 Chevy.
Hossler, though, wasn’t about to complain about a victory that came during a year filled with struggles.
“This year has just been a nightmare and it’s been tough to have any confidence,” Hossler said. “Hopefully we’ve found a home with our team and we’ll definitely take this.
“It’s nice to have a little luck come our way.”
Hossler didn’t run quicker than a 3.71 on Saturday, but he took advantage of opportunities, ousting points leader Jason Hamstra in the semifinals after Hamstra’s Duster got loose.
Hossler also credited his new team that is headed by crew chief Howard Moon.
“Howard and all the guys worked their tails off,” Hossler said. “These guys are all working hard, and we’re trying to get this car on track.”
The win for McCrary in Extreme 10.5 was big on several levels. He had predicted a run in the 3.80s this weekend in Norwalk, and it happened in the finals against Chuck Ulsch when he went a career-best 3.849 at 200.86 mph.
It was enough to slip past Ulsch’s 3.887 in what ended up as another marvelous drag race, giving McCrary his first ADRL win and a spot in the “BFTB.”
“I knew we could go fast if we could stay on the throttle the whole time,” McCrary said. “I said it could go a 3.84 or a 3.85, and we got that 3.84. I’ve raced against Chuck for years and that was a lot of fun racing him.”
McCrary and his Fast Forward Innovations (FFI) turbo-charged Stratus picked up steam as the day went along, knocking off Billy Glidden in the quarterfinals with a 3.906.
“This is freaking awesome. I can’t describe it,” McCrary said. “We worked our butts off and I’m already looking forward to (the World Finals).”
In just his second race in the ADRL, Jeremy Teasley picked up his first victory, riding a Rob Hunnicutt-owned bike to a 4.04 at 176.10 mph in the finals against Travis Davis.
“I never thought it would come this fast,” Teasley said. “It was just a little bit of everything. This bike had a lot of passes with Rob, and it couldn’t have worked out any better.”
Teasley consistently ran in the 4.10s through qualifying and the early part of eliminations before finding his groove in the semifinals. Facing Vose, Teasley went 4.037 to ensure his spot in the finals. A round later, Hunnicutt was overcome with emotion.
“To see him get that win light, I’m just speechless,” Hunnicutt said. “This bike just goes straight every pass.”
Davis knocked off points leader Ashley Owens in the semifinals, but Owens, who was the No. 1 qualifier, was able to clinch the world championship in PXM for the first time on Saturday.
Racing less than an hour from home, Scott Wasko thrilled the big turnout of family and friends that cheered him on, as he knocked off Glenn Butcher in the Summit Racing Equipment Top Sportsman finals with a 4.359 at 155.78 mph.
Butcher was trying to become the first two-time winner in Summit Racing TS, but Wasko’s family-based team won out.
“This is just fantastic,” Wasko said. “Any win is memorable, but I just love fast doorslammers and to be a part of this, it is just awesome.”
In the Penske Truck Leasing Pro Modified class, an ADRL veteran took out an ADRL newcomer, as former Pro Nitrous winner Lee Adkins went 3.903 at 191.59 mph to knock off No. 1 qualifier Pete Farber.
Farber went 3.95 in qualifying, but Adkins saved his best for last, overcoming a broken transmission on his ’68 Camaro earlier in the day.
“I love this. To win in ADRL Pro Nitrous and now to do it in Pro Modified in the same car, this is great,” Adkins said. “We’ve got a good car and these guys just busted their butts.”
In Pro Junior Dragster, Trevor Wilson picked up his second win of the season, going 8.23 at 68.43 mph to knock off Kaley Allen.
The ADRL finishes its 2011 season next month with the LenMar Motorsports World Finals VII, which takes place Oct. 21-23 at Texas Motorplex. The three-day event will include the “Battle For The Belts” and officially crown world points championships.
ABOUT THE ADRL
Based in O’Fallon, Missouri, the American Drag Racing League is the world’s premier sanctioning body for the sport of eighth-mile drag racing. The professional categories featured in the ADRL are Pro Junior Dragster, Summit Racing Equipment Top Sportsman, Extreme Pro Stock, Pro Extreme Motorcycle, Extreme 10.5, Pro Nitrous and Pro Extreme, the quickest doorslammer class in all of drag racing. The 2011 ADRL Tour consists of nine national events run throughout the United States. For more information on the ADRL, visit www.ADRL.us