BAYTOWN, TEXAS (March 30, 2012) – Mike Castellana’s 2012 season in the American Drag Racing League (ADRL) is picking up right where his 2011 left off.
Last year’s world champion in Pro Nitrous started off the 2012 ADRL Tour in fine fashion, taking the top qualifying spot in both Pro Nitrous and Pro Modified after two rounds of qualifying on Friday at ADRL CarSafe Dragpalooza VIII at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston.
Driving a pair of 2012 RJ Race Cars Camaros and competing in two classes at once for the first time in his storied career, Castellana and his Al-Anabi Racing team were incredible out of the gates, running 3.841 at 195.68 miles per hour in Pro Nitrous and 3.884 at 194.27 mph in Aeromotive Fuel Systems Pro Modified.
“Actually, we just picked up the (Pro Nitrous) car not even a week ago, so that’s all Shannon (Jenkins) and the crew,” Castellana said. “Shannon and the rest of the team make it a lot easier on me. I’ve got the easy part.”
It is already a record-setting event in one respect, as the car count for the 2012 rendition of Dragpalooza is the most ever in the eight-year history of the ADRL’s season-opening race.
Other No. 1 qualifiers through two rounds of qualifying include Alex Hossler (Pro Extreme), Billy Glidden (Mickey Thompson Extreme 10.5), Casey Stemper (Pro Extreme Motorcycle), Cary Goforth (Extreme Pro Stock), Chuck Mohn (Summit Racing Equipment Top Sportsman).
Chris Holbrook jumped to the top spot during the debut of the revolutionary new SuperCar Showdown, running an impressive 5.756 at 120.21 mph at the wheel of his 2012 Mustang.
Joseph Teuton, driving a 2011 Challenger, is right behind with a 5.885 at 118.74 mph as the class made a strong immediate impression at Royal Purple Raceway.
The final round of qualifying begins at 12 p.m. on Saturday, with eliminations of CarSafe Dragpalooza VIII to follow.
Castellana will be the favorite in two classes, but he has plenty of company at the top. Jeff Naiser is right behind in Aeromotive Pro Modified with a 3.895, while John Decerbo (3.881), Bob Rahaim (3.882) and Rickie Jones (3.888), sponsored by Summit Racing Equipment, are all within striking distance.
“This feels good. We had a good day, but Saturday can be totally different,” Castellana said. “There’s a lot of guys in both of these classes who are capable of running well.”
It was Von Smith who impressed off the bat in Pro Extreme, running a 3.685, but Hossler topped him with a brilliant performance under the lights, running 3.658 at 206.26 mph.
Driving a Tim McAmis Race Cars ’68 Camaro tuned by the legendary Frank Manzo, Hossler is quickly taking advantage of an opportunity he is relishing.
“Frank is the man and you can’t argue with his success,” Hossler said. “I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am to be in this position. What a dream. (KH Al-Thani) did a phenomenal job when he was driving this car, and I’m just going to do what Frank tells me to do.”
Todd Tutterow is the only other driver in the 24-car field to run in the 3.60s, going 3.694 to join Hossler and Smith in the top three. Hossler struggled on his first pass, but delivered later with a run that he hopes is a sign of things to come.
“I made a driver error in the first session and was able to come back and not hit anything, and I managed to go to low elapsed time,” Hossler said. “Hopefully it will hold and we can build on it from there.”
Castellana wasn’t the only 2011 world champion off to a hot start in the new season, as Cary Goforth, the 2011 ADRL Driver of the Year, quickly grabbed the reigns again in Extreme Pro Stock.
Looking to repeat his victory at Royal Purple Raceway that kick-started his 2011 championship season, Goforth and his Jerry Haas Race Cars GXP was remarkable right off the trailer, running a 4.069 to lead the way.
“That’s nice to do that and certainly not something we were expecting,” Goforth said. “We were working hard all winter, but I’m worrying about what everyone else is doing, too. I felt like a 4.08 would have been stout, so we didn’t expect that.”
It was another close field in the highly-competitive XPS class, with Pete Berner and his Summit Racing team right behind at 4.084. Cale Aronson is currently third with a career-best 4.088, but Goforth, who cut a strong light on his second pass, feels confident heading into eliminations.
“If we keep running like that and cutting good lights, someone’s going to have to work to get it,” Goforth said.
Billy Glidden is back to the top spot in Mickey Thompson Extreme 10.5, blowing away the field on his first pass of the day. His 3.921 at 190.14 mph, nearly a career-best speed, gave him a huge advantage after the first round.
Alan Pittman caught up with a strong 3.931 in the evening, but Glidden remained optimistic with his start.
“I’m very happy with that. I intentionally had it safe to get down the track and I’m really pleased with how we did,” Glidden said. “We ran into some things after Ennis (in October of 2011) that we weren’t going to incorporate and three weeks ago, we decided to do it.”
Todd Moyer is currently third at 4.020. Glidden, who hit a career-best of 3.882 last October, thinks it will be possible to match that number on Saturday.
“That was the first run with the changes I’ve made, and I think it ran really, really nice. For sure, I think it can run a 3.88 and maybe a 3.87,” Glidden said. “I feel like if I can stay up with everything tune-up wise, I should be able to run better.”
After two finals appearances in 2011, including one at the season-ending World Finals in Dallas, Casey Stemper continued to have momentum in Texas, running a 4.123 at 171.34 mph. Joining him in the 4.10s are David Norris (4.164), Dave Vantine (4.179), Eric McKinney (4.189) and Charlie Prophit (4.195).
“Texas has definitely had some good luck for us, but there’s a lot of strong contenders out there,” Stemper said. “We’re going into race mode (on Saturday), but we definitely want to keep improving.
“We’ve got something to work with and now we want to get it into the 4.00s.”
Racing for the first time as part of Dragpalooza VIII and starting its first full season in the ADRL, the Summit Racing Equipment Top Sportsman class delivered strong results with a talent-filled 18-car field.
Taking the top spot after two rounds of qualifying was Chuck Mohn, who ran a 4.113 at 175.89 mph.
It’s enough to put him just ahead of Ronnie Davis and his 4.139 at 177.67 mph.
Joining them as the only drivers to reach the 4.10s in Summit Racing Top Sportsman was Jerry Holt, who is currently in third with a 4.152 at 175.25 mph.
In Pro Junior Dragster, Corey Tankersley has the current No. 1 spot in qualifying, running a 7.907, a class-best .007 difference from his 7.90 index.
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, Aeromotive Fuel Systems Pro Modified, Extreme Pro Stock, Pro Extreme Motorcycle, Mickey Thompson Extreme 10.5, Pro Nitrous and Pro Extreme, the quickest doorslammer class in all of drag racing, as well as the revolutionary new SuperCar Showdown. The 2012 ADRL Tour consists of 10 national events run throughout the United States. For more information on the ADRL, visit www.ADRL.us.