Nobile Scores Emotional Sunoco Pro Stock Victory; Litton, Musi and Sickles Win at IHRA North American Nationals EPPING, N.H. - (9-12-2004) - John Nobile successfully closed out the most inspirational story of the 2004 Hooters IHRA Drag Racing ...
Nobile Scores Emotional Sunoco Pro Stock Victory; Litton, Musi and Sickles Win at IHRA North American Nationals
EPPING, N.H. - (9-12-2004) - John Nobile successfully closed out the most inspirational story of the 2004 Hooters IHRA Drag Racing Series as he took his first career Sunoco Pro Stock national event victory during the 9th annual Amalie Oil IHRA North American Nationals presented by Auto Value at New England Dragway in Epping, NH. Joining Nobile in the winner's circle was Bruce Litton (Top Fuel), Pat Musi (Pro Modified) and Jim Sickles (Funny Car).
Nobile, of Dix Hills, NY., rode a rollercoaster of emotions over the course of the weekend after receiving a phone call on Thursday evening notifying him that longtime friend Bob Losordo had passed away following a fifteen-year bout with Cystic Fibrosis. The veteran driver made one qualifying shot on Friday and then left the track that afternoon to drive home to pay respects to his fallen friend. Nobile's single effort was a very impressive one as he went to the top of the provisional qualifying ladder.
The run held up as the pole position until the final qualifying session. Nobile intended to devote all of Saturday to attending Losordo's wake. However, the schedule opened up, which enabled Nobile to charter a flight back home in time to run Saturday's evening session.
Never has a driver been more determined to gain a victory than Nobile was this weekend. He wanted this victory for his friend. When it was said and done, Nobile had defeated low qualifier and first-time finalist Rob Mansfield in the final round of Sunoco Pro Stock.
"I knew in my heart that I needed to win this race for my friend Bob Losordo," said Nobile. "This victory is for him. We experienced a lot over the course of the weekend and I don't know that I could have written a better script than the one that transpired this weekend.
"This victory is also for my crew chief Kenny Sevier, me and all of the guys that work on this team. My family deserves to be credited here, too; they are just as responsible. We knew that our first win was coming one day, and it was a very special one this weekend."
As Nobile's eyes welled up with tears, he explained how he plans to attend Losordo's funeral tomorrow, where he will place his only Ironman in the casket.
Nobile's miraculous journey to the Promised Land began with a convincing victory over John Bartunek before taking out Robert Patrick in the quarter-finals. Nobile advanced to the finals by outrunning Carl Baker.
For his part, Mansfield etched a place in history with the quickest run ever in qualifying, a 6.425. He reached the final round on the strength of victories over Larry O'Brien, Richard Penland and Steve Spiess.
In Pro Modified, Musi put on a driving clinic as he scored his first career victory since entering the class in 2003. Musi is a multi-time champion in NSCA Pro Street competition, and is also credited with being a nine-time IHRA Sunoco Pro Stock finalist.
Musi, of Carteret, NJ., stopped local favorite Steve Salvadore of Barre, Ma., in an all-'57 Chevrolet final round. His fourth career national event title came as a pleasant surprise.
"We were consistent all day and made the right calls when we needed to," Musi said. "This is a new chapter in my racing career and winning this race is a great addition to what we've already accomplished."
Musi started from the 15th spot on the qualifying grid and Msystematically stopped such names as ike Castellana, point leader Mike MJanis and Jim Halsey to reach the final round.
On the other side of the ladder, Salvadore traveled to the finals via the 12th qualifying position by taking out Billy Harper, Charles Carpenter and low qualifier Rick DiStefano.
The Top Fuel division was decided on a single run as Litton scored his first victory of the 2004 season when "Turbo" Tim Cullinan couldn't make the call for the final round. This marked the first victory for the Lucas Oil-sponsored Litton since opening the year with a devastating crash in San Antonio during Top Fuel semi-finals.
"We certainly worked hard this weekend, and there's no doubt that we broke a lot of parts," Litton said. "This is more parts than I think I have broken any other weekend, but through it all God was good to us and blessed us. We had a safe car, hurt a few tires and it all managed to stay together to get this win. I'm very thankful to Lucas Oil and everyone on the car."
Litton, from Indianapolis, entered eliminations as the fifth qualifier and opened with a 4.806, 302.96 to stop Rick Cooper. The semi-finals proved to be costly as Litton popped the supercharger at the finish line in his victory over points leader Clay Millican.
Cullinan gave it a valiant effort by entering eliminations as the seventh qualifier. He used a 4.774, 314.97 to upset a quicker-qualified Bobby Lagana, Jr. Cullinan turned up the wick with a 4.765, 300.06 thrashing of Toronto winner Doug Foley.
Sickles kept the momentum rolling in his favor as he won his third Funny Car national event victory in four races dating back to last season. Every time the Meyer's RV-sponsored team have entered a Hooters IHRA Drag Racing Series event they have reached the final round.
The latest victory for Sickles and tuner Tom Anderson came at the expense of defending IHRA World Champion Rob Atchison.
"We certainly had a golden horseshoe this weekend," Sickles admitted. "Over the last two years we didn't use up too much of our luck, but we sure did this weekend. We won despite not being on the best game that we had to offer."
Sickles, of Caledonia, NY., admittedly struggled through the day after qualifying third. He defeated Bill Naves, Fred Tigges and Mark Thomas to earn his second win of 2004.
Atchison entered eliminations perched atop the field in the pole position and quickly became a shoo-in for the finals with convincing wins over James Libby, Scott Wildgust and the Amalie Oil-sponsored Terry McMillen.
The next event on the twelve-race IHRA Hooters Drag Racing Series is scheduled for the weekend of September 24 - 26 in Budds Creek, Md. The 13th annual President's Cup Nationals is the eleventh stop on the tour and will be hosted by Maryland International Raceway.