Rockingham: Mike Castellana race notes

ROCKINGHAM, N.C.-In a season of frustration, Mike Castellana can view the last two races as something to build on when he refurbishes Mike's Drive-in for the 2001 IHRA tour. Castellana, for the second straight race, produced a strong...

ROCKINGHAM, N.C.-In a season of frustration, Mike Castellana can view the last two races as something to build on when he refurbishes Mike's Drive-in for the 2001 IHRA tour.

Castellana, for the second straight race, produced a strong qualifying effort and made it to the second round of eliminations in Mopar Pro Modified division at the rain-rescheduled CARQUEST Autumn Nationals.

And for the second straight event, Castellana flirted with advancing into the semifinals on Sunday. The supermarket-chain owner from Westbury, N.Y., was first off the starting line against Fred Hahn, winning the hole shot .429 seconds to .490, but it was all down hill after that. Castellana experienced severe tire shakes in his '57 Western Beef Chevrolet and shut down.

Hahn, in the meantime, had a big puff of smoke belch from his car around the 1,000-foot mark as the engine let go on the Rockingham Dragway but was able to complete the quarter-mile in an elapsed time of 7.605 seconds at 129.21 mph to Castellana's 14.028/67.25. The eliminations appeared rosy for Castellana after he put away Wayne Torkelson in the first round with his pass of 6.328/224.62 to 6.695/209.26. Torkelson was the one with the problem as he got out of the groove early and had to pedal the car to get it straightened it. Castellana went straight down the track.

Castellana flexed some muscle during Saturday's qualifying with his time of 6.337 seconds and 225.22 mph to nail down the eighth spot. He attempted to improve on those numbers with a 6.2-second run on his evening pass but encountered breakage, forcing him to lift. Back on Sept. 21 before the rains forced the postponement, Castellana had pushed his Chevy to a 6.448/216.20 to reside in the top half of the field.

Three weeks ago during the Shreveport race, Castellana showed signs of reviving his racing fortunes. He found some lightening in Louisiana by qualifying fifth with his 6.330/222/22 in his new Tim McAmis-Built '57 Chevy. Tire shakes again during his second-round match against Tommy Mauney cost Castellana a chance to make it into the semifinals.

Castellana will have four months to refine his recent performances when the IHRA revs up for the tour with the March 8 the www.competitionplus. com-sponsored preseason test at Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwidde.

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