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Pro Modified racer Mike Castellana nails down third Pro Modified victory of the season
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Mike Castellana entered the 2004 season hoping to capitalize on momentum accrued during 2003. The veteran Pro Modified racer from Westbury, NY., delivered his third home run of the season by stopping Mike Ashley in the final round of the 17th annual NHRA O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals in Memphis, Tenn. This triumph marked Castellana's second of the season in NHRA AMS Pro Modified competition.
As only one of the two nitrous cars in attendance for the seventh stop on the ten-race tour, Castellana was relentless in his pursuit for the title. He did have to admit he felt a bit outnumbered in the 22-car show. Only eight cars compete in final eliminations.
"We were a little outnumbered this weekend, but the important thing is that we pulled together when we needed to," explained Castellana. "We held our own in qualifying and made consistent laps when we needed to. That's what it takes to win one of these. Unfortunately the final round wasn't one of our better ones, but it was enough to win and that's all that counts."
Castellana credits the decision made by Shannon Jenkins, his teammate and partner in a nitrous business named Speedtech. The two, along with nitrous expert Brandon Switzer formed the company at the conclusion of the 2003 season.
"The key to winning this weekend was Shannon making the right calls," Castellana said. "He's been working on these engines for a while and brings a wealth of knowledge to this program. He's found something and we keep picking at it and keep picking up."
To reach the final comprised of New Yorkers, Castellana, who lives on Long Island as does the mortgage banker Ashley, opened his ride to the final round by eliminating Californian John Sciapli.
In the semi-finals, Castellana found himself pair opposite teammate Shannon Jenkins, who had ironically defeated Ashley's teammate Danny Rowe in the first round. Castellana was slightly quicker off the line and that worked to his favor as he laid down a 6.264, 226.92 to stop Jenkins, who recorded a 6.282, 223.17.
Castellana's victory over Jenkins awarded him lane choice by .001. He chose the right lane for the final round; however, the anticipated match never materialized as Ashley rolled the beams early and fouled, handing the victory to Castellana. However, the excitement didn't cease there as Ashley suffered mechanical breakage that forced his car into Castellana's lane. Castellana launched, but after seeing Ashley's plight lifted and graciously accepted the victory.
The victory marks Castellana's second in NHRA AMS Pro Modified competition. The last one came in Chicago during the NHRA Route 66 Nationals. He has also captured an IHRA Hooters Drag Series event by winning the ACDelco Nationals outside of Petersburg, Va.