POINTS-LEADER SPENCER MASSEY FAILS TO QUALIFY FOR NHRA ARIZONA NATIONALS
CHANDLER, Ariz., October 15, 2011 – When the final eliminations of the 27th-annual NHRA Arizona Nationals begin on Sunday, Spencer Massey’s lead in the 2011 NHRA Countdown to the Championship race will be in jeopardy as the FRAM/Prestone driver failed to qualify for the event here at Firebird International Raceway.
The 29-year-old driver entered the weekend holding a 65-point lead over Don Schumacher Racing teammate Antron Brown, but the inability to get down the hot, tricky race track in any of the four qualifying rounds Friday or today means the lead will be down to 35 points when the action begins at 11 a.m. CDT.
“We’re kind of scratching our heads,” explained a disappointed Massey, who had won the previous race. “The car was wanting to run like it did in Maple Grove; we just couldn’t seem to tame the beast, which was very unusual for this great FRAM/Prestone team. They have been so good at getting this hot rod from A to B without any drama – we even went 40 rounds without smoking the tires at one point in the season!
“There may be some ‘little bug’ somewhere so we’ll go over everything and figure it out. We won’t even be in Phoenix for Sunday’s race because we’re heading to Las Vegas to test on Monday and get ready for those last two Countdown races (which begin with an October 28-30 event in Las Vegas).
“Regardless of what happens tomorrow, we’ll still be in the thick of things in the Countdown. This might just bunch everybody together in the points race.”
Massey opened qualifying Friday with tire-smoking runs of 6.501 and 8 seconds in the extreme heat – air temperature nearing 100 degrees and track temperatures exceeding 130 – and followed with traction-challenged laps today of 4.422 and 9.442. He had not suffered a DNQ during 2011.
“The drastic changes in track conditions from Maple Grove to here might have thrown us a curve,” said the Fort Worth native about a track-temperature swing of more than 65 degrees, air-temperature swing of 52 degrees and a 3,000-foot differential in altitude. “But I’m still optimistic about our situation. This is just one race – I want to be the team which wins the championship despite a DNQ in the Countdown. “