Castellana Breaks Through After Early-Season Struggles With NHRA Pro Mod Win In Atlanta
A nightmare start to the 2019 E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service season for Mike Castellana finally saw some light.
The class veteran claimed his second victory in three years at Atlanta Dragway, winning the 39th annual Arby’s NHRA Southern Nationals, where the series was presented by FuelTech. It is the fourth of 12 races during the 2019 season, but it marked the first race Castellana, a perennial class standout qualified for this year after three straight DNQs.
But Castellana did more than just qualify in Atlanta, as he rolled the win in his supercharged Al-Anabi Performance Chevrolet Camaro, going 5.825-seconds at 248.29 mph in the final round against a red-lighting Jose Gonzalez.
“I knew everything would come together, but I didn’t expect it this quick,” Castellana said. “But (Crew chief) Frank (Manzo) and my team do a great job.”
It marks the ninth career E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod victory for Castellana, who qualified ninth and also earned round wins over Brandon Snider, Jeremy Ray and defending world champion Mike Janis, running a 5.809 at 248.48 in the semifinals.
Castellana’s early struggles were shocking, especially considering how dangerous the pairing with Manzo has been in recent years. Former Pro Stock standout Larry Morgan also helped in Atlanta, and the talented braintrust looked on point in Atlanta. It could be dangerous for the rest of the class should Castellana get hot, and he feels good about his team’s chances heading to Virginia in two weeks.
“We feel real confident now,” Castellana said. “We’re making progress with the car and when we make laps, Frank just keeps tweaking on the car. We’ll be ready for Virginia.”
The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service continues May 17-19 with the Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park in Richmond, Va.
Final finish order (1-16) at the 39th annual Arby’s NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway. The race is the fourth of 12 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
1. Mike Castellana; 2. Jose Gonzalez; 3. Mike Janis; 4. Doug Winters; 5. Jeremy Ray; 6. Todd Tutterow; 7. Sidnei Frigo; 8. Chad Green; 9. Rickie Smith; 10. Khalid alBalooshi; 11. Brandon Snider; 12. Erica Enders; 13. Alex Laughlin; 14. Clint Satterfield; 15. Steven Whiteley; 16. Steve Jackson.
Sunday’s final results from the 39th annual Arby’s NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway. The race is the the fourth of 12 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
Pro Modified — Mike Castellana, Chevy Camaro, 5.825, 248.29 def. Jose Gonzalez, Camaro, Foul – Red Light.
Final round-by-round results from the 39th annual Arby’s NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, the fourth of 12 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
ROUND ONE — Mike Castellana, Chevy Camaro, 5.883, 248.11 def. Brandon Snider, Chevy Corvette, 6.016, 239.14; Doug Winters, Chevy Chevelle, 5.874, 247.25 def. Rickie Smith, Ford Mustang, 5.903, 248.75; Todd Tutterow, Camaro, 5.803, 247.75 def. Khalid alBalooshi, Camaro, 5.997, 202.52; Jeremy Ray, Corvette, 9.778, 89.19 def. Steve Jackson, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Chad Green, Camaro, 5.816, 250.37 def. Clint Satterfield, Camaro, 7.499, 158.58; Jose Gonzalez, Camaro, 5.844, 249.86 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.397, 232.19; Mike Janis, Camaro, 6.278, 200.14 def. Steven Whiteley, Camaro, 12.181, 71.45; Sidnei Frigo, Camaro, 5.853, 254.47 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.062, 252.57;
QUARTERFINALS — Castellana, 5.851, 247.25 def. Ray, 6.717, 145.99; Gonzalez, 7.965, 133.54 def. Frigo, Foul – Red Light; Janis, 5.856, 247.07 def. Tutterow, 7.917, 120.63; Winters, 6.044, 223.91 def. Green, Foul – Centerline;
SEMIFINALS — Castellana, 5.809, 248.48 def. Janis, 5.860, 240.98; Gonzalez, 5.865, 254.71 def. Winters, Broke – No Show;
FINAL — Castellana, 5.825, 248.29 def. Gonzalez, Foul – Red Light.
Point standings (top 10) following the 39th annual Arby’s NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, the fourth of 12 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.
1. Steve Jackson, 334; 2. Todd Tutterow, 333; 3. Mike Janis, 301; 4. Jose Gonzalez, 274; 5. Jeremy Ray, 222; 6. Chad Green, 207; 7. Rickie Smith, 202; 8. Steven Whiteley, 178; 9. Erica Enders, 177; 10. Sidnei Frigo, 160.