This last weekend at Royal Purple Raceway, we saw a little bit of everything at the NHRA Spring Nationals. The Pro Mod record was broke again, there was a No Prep shootout, A first time Pro Stock winner, and I haven't even got to Nitro Yet.
The Pro Mod class is arguably the toughest heads up class in all of drag racing to even qualify for. If you don't believe me, just ask Steve Jackson. Stevie Fast made a huge splash in his NHRA debut at the Gatornationals in Gainesville when he became the #1 qualifier in the quickest recorded field in class history. This weekend wasn't to be though, as Stevie wasn't able to even make the tough field. Though some see this as odd, I will point out to you that last year, Mike Castellana won a race and DNQ'd the next week. Billy Glidden as a matter of fact DNQ'd at Bristol last year and won the following week in Norwalk, so this isn't exactly out of the norm to see in Pro Mod.
All the talk surrounding Pro Mod this weekend was the blower combos though. How quick would they really go. Well it didn't take long for the New York man himself, Mike Castellana to show his hand. The blown Camaro, tuned by Frank Manzo shocked the world when it became the first ever NHRA legal pro mod to go in the sixties. Mike ran a stout 5.685 at 252 MPH. As I stood next to the wall photographing another record pass I realized that this was just another first in a line of firsts at this event. It was another blower car that was destine to take home the win and the Wally on Sunday, and that was none other than the Founder and Face of Aeromotive Fuel Systems, Steve Matusek. Steve muscled his way though a very tough field to grab his first ever national event Wally. As teammate Danny Rowe, good friend Wes Buck, and Steve's family all watched on. Steve was consistant all weekend and made that Camaro become the one to beat when he faced off against Shane Molinari and his gorgeous gold Firebird. Earlier in the weekend Shane also shocked everyone with a 257 mph pass in pro mod. This time though, Shane seemed to have a transmission issue after the burnout and was pushed back. He got the car staged but then it rolled though, handing Steve the win.
Pro Stock, the one class that everyone says is dying, was also filled with drama. This time it was in the form of two young guns, an engine program, and some smack talk. During the offseason, Gas Monkey Energy Pro Stock driver Alex Laughlin had decided to make the switch to the Elite camp, which obviously upset some in the Gray Motorsports camp. During E1 Alex and Tanner faced off against each other, with Tanner getting the victory. At the top end, Tanner had some choice words for Alex about his move to Elite and Alex had some choice words for Tanner in regards to growing up. The tension spilled over into the pits as well, when both the Elite and Gray Motorsports team got into an overhyped scuffle about the situation. In the end, it didn't really matter because even though Tanner won the round, he ended up redlighting and not making the finals. In fact it was KB Power vs Elite in the finals, when Bo Butner met up with Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the Jegs.com machine. This time though, it was time to prove what Bo really knows, and what Bo, Randi Lyn, and the rest of the team know is that Bo is a Pro Stock national event winner for the first time ever. He outran Jeg at the top end to take Wally home to Indiana with him.
In Funny Car it was the champ Ron Capps in the Napa car that took Wally home on Sunday. He and his team went through a field of tough competitors to take home that Wally too. This was no easy walk in the park. There were heavy hitters at every turn. Previous 2x World Champion Cruz Pedregon looked to finally be back on track as well. Cruz made his first ever run in the 80's during qualifying. Unfortunately he turned on the reds in E1 Sunday morning and set the team packing early and heading to Charlotte. Nothing to hang heads about though. Cruz might just have what it takes to be back in the game. As far as Ron goes, he went though Todd Simpson, Johnnie Lindberg, and Jack Beckman, before facing off against the AAA car of Robert Hight. Ron had issues with the car, but it didn't matter because Robert crossed center and was DQ'd. No one on the starting line seemed to know who one at first though. It wasn't until the announcement was made over the loudspeakers that everyone knew what happened.
Dominance is what Leah Pritchett has shown this season. She and her Papa John's team wrapped up their third victory of the season. She left Houston with a 54 point lead over Antron Brown after five events in the books. Based on the way Leah is performing and the rapport she has with her team, she could be on her way to a championship in 2017. Leah defeated the CatSpot Litter backed Scott Palmer in E1, and then went on to defeat Doug Kalitta, Antron Brown, and in the finals she beat Steve Torrence with a 3.781 to Steve's 3.787. Once again, the Papa Johns crew is the winners circle.
You may remember a few days ago when we talked about this Redemption No Prep shootout. Well that was something that was also held this weekend in Houston. On Friday, the "Queen" of No Prep, Shannon Morgan has 8 of her Outlaw No Prep racers compete in an exhibition for $5000 in front of the NHRA fans. It was great to see them bring those guys in, and a huge shoutout to the winner, Kenjo Kelly! Look for us to try and bring you some more no prep later this season.
We also wanted to thank our coverage partners for the event. Menscer Motorsports, Matters Properties INC, KP Racing, & Kenjo's Barbecue. Without them our coverage of Houston's Spring Nationals would not be possible!
This coming weekend we are on to Charlotte, and the circus called 4 Wide. For the first time ever we will also see Pro Mod 4 Wide. Stay Tuned.