Bristol: Team Castellana Friday notes

BRISTOL, Tenn.-What started out a promising first day at the NHRA's inaugural Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals for Mike Castellana took an ominous turn. The thunder left Castellana, and the dark clouds began to hover near the end of...

BRISTOL, Tenn.-What started out a promising first day at the NHRA's inaugural Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals for Mike Castellana took an ominous turn.

The thunder left Castellana, and the dark clouds began to hover near the end of yesterday's first Pro Modified qualifying pass. The supermarket chain owner from Westbury, N.Y., got off to a good start, but before he crossed the finish line, he had burned a piston in his engine.

Despite the damage to the engine, Castellana managed to complete a credible run down the Bristol Dragway quarter-mile with an elapsed time of 6.439 seconds at 209.75 mph. Those numbers enabled him to latch onto the fifth qualifying position.

Between sessions, Castellana was forced to change motors. It didn't help.

The second run was worse and must have made him feel like he was back in Dinwiddie, Va., where last weekend's IHRA tour stop qualifying was nothing short of a nightmare. He never came close to making last Sunday's eliminations.

In that second run yesterday, the '57 Chevy shook hard on the launch and could only muster a 10.069/83.03. His earlier pass times left him in eighth or on the bubble. The bubble burst before the round ended. Sliding all the way down to 11th, Castellana heads into today's final two passes in danger of not being among the eight quickest for tomorrow's head-to-head eliminations.

Castellana worked deep into the night, trying to find the right tune-up in hopes of salvaging the weekend and a spot in the finals.

The usually reliable Shannon Jenkins couldn't provide Team Castellana with a needed morale boost. The Alabaman had a tough time when his '68 Camaro got squirrelly early in his first run and sat out the second session due to a broken transmission. He was worse off than Castellana, languishing in 16th.

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To keep abreast of Castellana visit his website at www.awesome57.com.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Shannon Jenkins