Nobile remains in title contention after semifinal finish
CONCORD, N.C. (September 18) – NHRA rookie Vincent Nobile continued his pursuit of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock championship with another outstanding performance at last weekend’s O’Reilly Nationals at zMax Dragway in Concord, N.C. Competing in the first of six events in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, Nobile drove the NAPA/Mountain View Tires Dodge Avenger to a semifinal finish. In the process, the first-year sensation moved into third place in the battle for the championship.
After a disappointing qualifying effort, Nobile started from the No. 10 spot, and was forced to face his friend and mentor, Larry Morgan in round one. Although Morgan had been quicker in qualifying, Nobile launched the Nick Mitsos-tuned Dodge with an almost perfect reaction time and recorded a much-needed round win. In round two, Nobile locked horns with Shane Gray and once again emerged victorious with a 6.57 elapsed time to narrowly defeat Gray’s 6.59 effort.
Seeking to make the final round for the fifth time this season, Nobile took on Kurt Johnson in the semifinals but came up short despite a nearly perfect reaction time. Johnson, who went on to win the race, recorded a 6.55 to beat Nobile’s 6.58.
“In the round against Kurt, we shook the tires and that cost us,” said Nobile. “When you consider how our weekend started, I’d say it turned out pretty well. We are still getting a handle on our clutch set-up and that hurt us in qualifying. I do feel like I could have beat Kurt in the semifinals but considering our start, I’ll take it.”
Due to NHRA’s unique points-scoring system, which re-seeds the top ten drivers at the start of the six-race Countdown playoffs, Nobile is currently just 54 points behind leader Jason Line and only 23 behind second-ranked Greg Anderson. In NHRA competition, each round win is worth 20 points.
“I’m a little disappointed because we could have done better at this race but I also think that we’ll be stronger next weekend in Dallas,” said Nobile. “I also know that consistency is the key to this whole deal and if we can make it to the semifinals at the first five races of the Countdown, there’s a good chance we will be fighting for the championship when we get to the sixth event.”
Based on his impressive debut season, which includes two victories in Houston and Norwalk, and a pair of runner-up finishes in Las Vegas and Englishtown, the 19-year old college student also figures to be the frontrunner for the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future award, which annually honors NHRA’s top professional rookie. Nobile is currently the highest ranked rookie driver in any of NHRA’s four professional classes.
The NAPA/Mountain View Racing Team will be in action again this weekend at the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas.