BAYTOWN, Texas – For Vincent Nobile entering an event where he is the two-time defending champion and where he recorded his first Mello Yello Drag Racing Series victory will give him an extra boost of confidence at the upcoming O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals presented by Super Start Batteries, April 26-28.
In 2011, Nobile was in his first full season in the Pro Stock category and had raced to one final round appearance at the third race of the season in Las Vegas. When the series entered Houston for the fifth race of season, Nobile and his father, who serves as crew chief, once again found themselves in the finals at the end of the day. Nobile was able to defeat local favorite Rodger Brogdon and hoisted an NHRA Wally trophy for the first time in his career.
“That was a pretty emotional day,” Nobile said. “The best memory of it all was seeing my dad at the top end after we had won. I instantly broke down into tears because it has been a goal of my father’s to win an NHRA race for 20 years, and we finally accomplished it together.”
When the series returned to Royal Purple Raceway in 2012 it was under similar circumstances as he again was the runner-up at Las Vegas earlier in the season. Nobile again powered to the finals and defeated Dave Connolly to claim his fourth career victory. While he has had success at the venue he by no means thinks he has complete mastery of the track.
“It honestly has been just coincidence and a little bit of luck,” he continued. “We never qualified in the top three there so it’s not as if we have a performance advantage at that track, but for whatever reason Royal Purple Raceway treats my team well.”
The O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals is the sixth of 24 events in 2013 and has produced record setting performances at a track that is only 10 feet above sea level. Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Mike Neff (Funny Car) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) join Nobile as winners of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event last season. The race will be televised on ESPN2 HD, which will provide live coverage of Saturday qualifying and Sunday’s semifinals and final rounds.
Nobile and his Mountain View Tire Dodge Avenger team have joined forces with J & J Racing with Allen Johnson and Jeg Coughlin as teammates for the 2013 season and are currently fifth in points. They won the season-opening event in Pomona and while they have tasted success they are confident the best is yet to come.
“I have a hard working team who doesn’t give up,” Nobile said. “I definitely think we have a shot at the championship. We are currently not running up to our par, but I know we will get it straightened out by the time it really counts, the Countdown to the Championship.”
In Top Fuel, Tony Schumacher has added two more NHRA Wally trophies to his collection with wins in Phoenix and Las Vegas, and he has been atop of the points standings early in the season. His Don Schumacher Racing teammates Antron Brown and Spencer Massey are both on his heels and will be looking for wins at Royal Purple Raceway, along with defending event winner Morgan Lucas, Winternationals winner Shawn Langdon and past Houston winners Brandon Bernstein and Doug Kalitta.
Courtney Force leads the Funny Car category with two final round appearances thus far in the season with one win in Pomona. Also splitting time atop the points standings have been Ron Capps and Johnny Gray, who will both be serious contenders when the series visits the Lone Star state. Others to watch in Funny Car include Las Vegas winner Cruz Pedregon, a two-time winner at RPR, seven-time event winner John Force and Del Worsham, who has earned both Top Fuel and Funny Car wins in Houston.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Hector Arana Jr. rides into the event as series points leader on the strength of his season-opening win in Gainesville and will be looking for continued success aboard his Lucas Oil Buell at a track where he has fond memories. However, Andrew Hines will be going for his fourth consecutive victory at the Texas track on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. Other two-wheel racers to watch include three-time and defending world champ Eddie Krawiec, Matt Smith, Scotty Pollacheck, veteran rider Steve Johnson and Hector Arana Sr.
The NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series as well as the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series also will thrill the crowds during the weekend with intense side-by-side competition.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as every ticket is an exclusive pit pass, allowing them firsthand to see the highly skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds. While visiting the pits, interactive NHRA Nitro Alley and the NHRA Manufacturers Midway are two popular areas fans won’t want to miss.