Defending Pro Stock event winner Vincent Nobile senses 2015 luck about to change at Route 66
Nobile is eager to see more strong performances out of his Chevrolet Camaro.
Joliet, Ill. — Vincent Nobile might have been the happiest first-round loser last weekend in Norwalk. It certainly wasn’t the result the Pro Stock standout was after, but digging deeper reveals things may be on the verge of taking a totally different course.
Nobile saw the most positive signs of an up-and-down 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season at the most recent event, putting together four strong qualifying runs and performing well in a first-round defeat to Jason Line.
Bad luck out of the way
With what he hopes is the last batch of bad luck out of his way, Nobile is eager to see more strong performances out of his Mountain View Tire Chevrolet Camaro at this weekend’s Lucas Oil Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by General Tire at Route 66 Raceway.
“Honestly, (Norwalk) was the first weekend where the car was where it should be,” Nobile said. “We made five really good, consistent runs. I’m confident with the car and we’re going to Chicago with the mindset that we’re going to turn the season around. This is my fifth year of racing and I always seem to do well at the beginning of the season and fizzle out toward the end. This year, hopefully I can turn it on at the end.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Nobile (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will again be televised nationally on ESPN2, including live coverage of final eliminations. The 13th of 24 races during the 2015 season kicks off the second half of the year, and Nobile knows the time is now to perform.
He currently sits in ninth place in the Pro Stock points standings and leads 11th-place driver Jonathan Gray by just 21 points. With the top 10 drivers advancing to the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, Nobile, who has nine career victories, is poised for a big second half.
But the first portion of the season has certainly come as somewhat of a shock to the talented 23-year-old from Melville, N.Y. Nobile has grown accustomed to success in his young career, finishing in the top 10 in each of his first four full seasons. This season, however, has been a struggle minus a final round appearance in Las Vegas, falling five times in the first round.
It’s not something Nobile wants to get used to and he remains confident his team is closing in on a far different result.
“Drag racing is an extremely humbling sport,” Nobile said. “But I’m confident in my team. Naturally we’re a little frustrated but we have a good team and I know we’ll bounce back. We’ve worked really hard on this car and we haven’t seen the results we’ve wanted, but we know it’s not for a lack of effort. I’m going to keep my head up and my team is going to keep their heads up, and we know success is right around the corner.”
That showed in qualifying when Nobile put together four strong passes, qualifying fifth for the second time in the past three races. Nobile followed qualifying with a solid 6.557 but Line was just slightly better with a 6.550, summing up Nobile’s season in one Sunday matchup. Still, Nobile saw plenty of positives to take into the Lucas Oil Route 66 NHRA Nationals.
“Looking back at last weekend, the car was in a happy place and we made a lot of good runs,” Nobile said. “It was unfortunate we lost in the first round and if we would have been racing anybody but Jason we would have advanced. But I’m happy with the way the car is running and how I’m driving. We just need a little luck.”
A competitive Pro Stock
It’s hard to come by in a competitive Pro Stock class that saw the points lead change hands again in Norwalk. Greg Anderson won for the fourth time in 2015 to jump past reigning world champion Erica Enders, who has four victories this season. Other talented standouts include Line, Allen Johnson, Rodger Brogdon, V. Gaines, Shane Gray, Chris McGaha, Larry Morgan and newcomer Drew Skillman.
But Nobile returns to Route 66 Raceway with plenty of good memories from a win at the track a year ago, hopeful that he can pick up his first win of this season in the same place he did it in 2014.
“Chicago was my first and only win last season and we’re in the same spot right now so we’re confident we can turn it around,” Nobile said. “I think we can do really well again there. It’s a beautiful place to go and race, and honestly it’s one of my favorite tracks to go to every year.”
In Top Fuel Antron Brown, who is the points leader and advanced to the final round in Norwalk, is eager for a repeat win in Chicago. Defending world champion Tony Schumacher, leads active Top Fuel drivers with four career victories at this event, including in 2013, while other stars include Larry Dixon, who has three wins at the track, 2014 runner-up Doug Kalitta, who won last weekend in Norwalk, Richie Crampton, Brittany Force, Spencer Massey, Leah Pritchett, Steve Torrence, Clay Millican and J.R. Todd.
Hagan, the defending Funny Car world champ and current points leader, is after his third consecutive win at the Route 66 NHRA Nationals and fourth overall. Ron Capps is currently second in points, while Del Worsham, a three-time Chicago winner, is among a group of talented standouts that also features Tommy Johnson Jr., Tony Pedregon, a four-time event winner, Alexis DeJoria, John Force, a 16-time champ and three-time event winner, Courtney Force, Robert Hight, Cruz Pedregon, Jack Beckman, who won last weekend, and Tim Wilkerson.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Hector Arana Jr. raced to his first final round appearance and victory of the season last year at Chicago. Eddie Krawiec sits first in the points standings and has raced to three runner-up finishes this season. Andrew Hines, the defending world champ and a two-time event winner, is in third while others hoping to raise the Wally trophy on Sunday include Englishtown winner Jerry Savoie, two-time season winner Karen Stoffer, Hector Arana Sr., Jim Underdahl, Angelle Sampey, Matt Smith and his wife Angie Smith.
The race also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, including the exciting JEGS All-Stars event on Saturday where the best NHRA sportsman racers from each of NHRA's seven divisions battle for bonus money and bragging rights.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday, July 10, with sessions at 4:30 and 7:15 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, July 11, at 4:15 and 7:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 12.
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Schumacher, Johnson Jr., Johnson and Arana Jr. race to winner’s circle at Route 66 NHRA Nationals