JOLIET, Ill. --
Consider the nitrous cars now to be one-up on their adversaries and Castellana, a longtime nitrous advocate, was more than happy to deliver to help the cause. His defeat of the top qualifier Fred Hahn was a fitting conclusion to a good weekend.
“I could get used to this,” explained Castellana. “I owe this victory to Shannon Jenkins and my crew. They are the real winners here today. Every win you get is special, but to me, they just keep getting more enjoyable.
Castellana’s victory marked the third in his career and second in NHRA AMS Pro Modified Challenge competition. His last NHRA victory came last June in St. Louis, Mo.
One of the better rounds of AMS Pro Modified Challenge tour opened with Zach Barklage getting the best of Thomas Patterson. Barklage took advantage of Patterson’s starting line tardiness to further extend a victory that yielded a 6.237, 230.72. Patterson was no pushover as he absorbed the loss with a 6.256, 224.40.
Castellana opened his march to the finals with a major victory as he took out the points leader Billes with a .04 holeshot and extended it even more with a 6.217, 225.63. Billes slowed off of his qualifying pace with a 6.290, 226.42.
The unofficial reaction time award went to New York Mortgage Banker Mike Ashley as he blistered Shannon Jenkins with a .002 light. Ashley had to fight his Mustang which drifted all over his lane en route to 6.246, 226.85. Jenkins lost despite a quicker 6.232, 225.33.
Hahn showed an example of why he was certainly the driver to beat in Chicago. Hahn outreacted Von Smith and distanced himself quickly with the second six-teen of the weekend, a 6.185, 230.21. Smith labored through with a losing 6.273, 227.46.
A scary moment ensued following Hahn’s victory as his parachute malfunctioned and fell under his wheelie bar. Hahn used the full complement of shut-down area to bring his Corvette to a stop. The rear brakes were glowing red as the safety crews at the top end reached Hahn. Adding complexity to the issue, NHRA officials gave the Pro Modified entries only 30 minutes of turnaround time with impending thunderstorms threatening.
Castellana was in the first pair of semi-final combatants and what promised to be a stout battle never materialized as Ashley rolled the beams and fouled with a -.230 reaction time. The winning time for Castellana was a 6.307, 200.71.
On the other side of the ladder, Hahn gave a good example of why he was the defending event and world champion. In the first round, Hahn was the only driver in the six-teens and in the second round, he didn’t need the performance advantage as much by winning on a holeshot over Barklage. Hahn used .082 in starting line advantage to successfully fend off Barklage by a 6.278 to 6.253 margin.
In the final round, Hahn rated the performance advantage. However, Castellana had been brutal on the tree and continued his lightning-quick prowess in the final round by reeling off a .017 light and stretching out the lead to a 6.227, 225. Hahn absorbed the loss with a 6.285, 228.
The next stop on the ten-race NHRA AMS Pro Modified Challenge tour will be next month in Englishtown, NJ.