Allen Lessels on Motor Sports: Clocking in at 313 mph
Pro Stock driver Vincent Nobile steers his car in the pits during the NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway in Epping on Friday. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
The Funny Cars and Top Fuel dragsters of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series rocked the inaugural NHRA Auto Plus New England Nationals on Friday evening at New England Dragway in front of packed grandstands.
John Force, 64, was the first to hit the 300 mph mark when he checked in at 302.01 mph.
He lowered that to 4.051 in the second round — and was clocked at 313.44 miles per hour — to take over the top qualifying spot.
He agreed with Force’s assessment of the dragway and the crowd .
“It’s awesome here,” Hagan said. “It’s elbow to elbow in the pits. It pumps me up to see them pumped up.”
The Funny Car, Top Fuel, Pro Stock and Pro Motorcycle competitors hit the track for the first time on Friday evening. A second qualifying run followed the first in each division.
The Top Fuel cars followed the Funny Cars and pushed the numbers even higher.Shawn Langdon qualified fastest in the first round at 3.837 seconds and hit 316.82 mph. Khalid Balooshi hit the fastest time on the speed gun at 319.67 mph and was fifth in 3.896 seconds.
Doug Kalitta took over the top spot in the second round of qualifying with a 3.795-second run. Langdon was next at 3.809.
“I’ve never raced here, but I’ve been here many times over the years watching my Dad race in the IHRA (International Hot Rod Association),” Nobile said. “And my Dad won his first-ever race here in 2004. It would be pretty cool if I could win at the same track he did.”
He’s having a pretty good run as a drag racer, too.
Nobile had three wins and finished fifth in his first full Pro Stock season in 2011 and improved to third place with a pair of victories last year.
“It’s a smooth racetrack and when my Dad raced here it was one of the fastest around,” Nobile said.
He’s thinking it still is.
firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter: @allenlessels