SHREVEPORT, La.-Mike Castellana must look up his weekend spent competing at the IHRA's Mopar Parts World Finals as a huge success, considering the misfortunes that has dogged him on the IHRA tour. Over his previous seven Pro Modified division races, the supermarket-chain owner failed to make the elimination rounds three times, and during the other four races, it was one and out. Even showing up for the Norwalk race with a new Tim McAmis-built '57 Chevrolet didn't drum up much for business at Mike's Drive-in.
But Castellana found some lightning in Louisiana even though the 2000 season is nearly concluded. He not only turned in one of his best qualifying performances, Castellana also advanced out of the first round of eliminations for the first time since the Rockingham race way back in April.
The Westbury, N.Y., resident might have made it to the semifinals for the first time this year had he not encountered tire shake. Castellana enjoyed a big holeshot, .448 seconds to .500, against Tommy Mauney during Saturday's second-round matchup, but after that his car shook and danced down the Red River Raceway quarter-mile. His elapsed time run of 9.328 seconds at 95.08 mph gave Mauney and his 6.444/217.74 an easy pass to victory.
During Thursday's opening qualifying runs, Castellana and his '57 Chevy Bel-Air stuttered down the track to a 6.432/219.76, good for third quickest on the day but not good enough with Saturday's eliminations looming. Castellana needed to step up that number on Friday to remain in the top half of the 16-car field, and he did, running a 6.330/222.22 to solidify the fifth spot, which was his highest since the career-best third at the Cordova tour stop.
Castellana has one more opportunity to salvage something from this IHRA season in gearing up for 2001 when he competes at the rain-rescheduled CARQUEST Autumn Nationals at Rockingham, N.C., Dragway Nov. 4-5.
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