Castellana Back in Winner's Circle 2005 Knoll Gas-Torco Pro Modified World Champion wins Torco Pro Mod Shootout in Martin, Mich. MARTIN, Michigan (August 5, 2006) -- Mike Castellana flexed his muscles with great regularity last season, ...
Castellana Back in Winner's Circle
2005 Knoll Gas-Torco Pro Modified World Champion wins Torco Pro Mod Shootout in Martin, Mich.
MARTIN, Michigan (August 5, 2006) -- Mike Castellana flexed his muscles with great regularity last season, winning four of the last six IHRA national events en route to his first career Knoll Gas-Torco Pro Modified World Championship.
This season Castellana has found the going a little tougher as he had not visited the Winner's Circle before the 25th Annual Torco Racing Fuels Northern Nationals at US 131 Motorsports Park. Things all came together for Castellana during the Torco Pro Modified Shootout, however, as the Westbury, N.Y., resident topped Quain Stott in the final to collect the $20,000 winner's check. It was the first significant victory for Castellana this season and, he hopes, a springboard toward better things the rest of the year. His 6.141 at 232.31 mph put him in front as Stott posted a 6.161/232.96.
"This feels great," Castellana said. "We've kind of struggled this year and it has nothing to do with nitrous cars or blower cars, we just kind of struggled to find our combination that we had last year. Things really came together at the right time this weekend. We're thrilled with this. We needed a little shot in the arm to get things going, now we feel like we have things headed in the right direction. Hopefully we can keep it going."
Castellana, one of two nitrous-powered cars in the field, went from the #3 seed to the championship. In the first round he squared off with the '53 Corvette of Rick Distefano. He took advantage of lane choice against the seventh-seeded Distefano, posting a 6.177 pass at 231.12 mph to top Distefano's tire-shaking pass.
Stott might want to think about adding Mike Janis to his Christmas list after the first-round gift he received on the other side of the ladder. Stott's '63 Corvette shook its tires hard at the hit of the throttle, forcing him to pull out of the run. Janis, in the other lane, had smooth sailing into the second round with nothing but clean track in front of him. The problem for Janis, however, came at about half-track when his '06 Cobalt started drifting towards the center line. Janis could not recover and ended up crossing the center line, handing the victory to Stott.
In the second round Castellana knocked heads with Scotty Cannon, Jr., who took out defending Shootout champion Carl Spiering in the first round. Castellana won this semifinals match-up at the tree, throwing a holeshot at Cannon to advance to the final. Castellana used a .035 reaction time to back up his 6.145/232.27 pass. Cannon's .055 6.140/234.66 package took him out of the running.
In the semifinals Jim Halsey made a strange choice. With lane choice over Quain Stott, Halsey put Stott into the right lane...the lane of choice of most drivers during the day. Halsey must have been banking on Stott being set up for the left lane, but in the end it did not matter as Stott's 6.199/232.11 pass eliminated Halsey, who drifted towards the wall at the 330-foot mark and lifted.
This set up the nitrous vs. blower match-up in the run for the money, a battle that many have speculated nitrous could not win. Castellana enjoyed proving everyone wrong.
"We just kind of lost our combination a little bit earlier in the season and we seem to have it back," he said. "Hopefully we can hang on to it, keep tweaking and improving on it. We've had our problems, now we're just going to keep moving forward."
In front of the largest single-day crowd in the history of US 131 Motorsports Park, Castellana got a charge out of performing in front of a huge audience. He also wanted to express his appreciation towards Evan Knoll, the owner of Knoll Gas and Torco Racing Fuels, for putting the program together.
"It's awesome what Evan does for this class and for racing in general," Castellana said. "The Shootout really gives us Pro Mod racers something to look forward to other than just the points chase. You lean on it as hard as you can at every race because you really are looking for those Shootout points. You give it everything you have."