For the fifth time in his career, Bruno Massel of Woodridge, Illinois took it all the way to the winner's circle during a NHRA National Event, this time grabbing a coveted Wally during the 26th annual AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals with his Autogeek.net/K&N 2010 Chevy Cobalt in Competition Eliminator, and doing so for the second time this season.
Bruno Massel grabs Wally during the 26th annual AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals
Competition Eliminator Autogeek.net/K&N 2010 Chevy Cobalt
"We had a full field, which was good. A lot of great cars," said Massel of the event in Ennis, Texas. "The weather was kinda cool in opening qualifying and it did just what the forecast said it would. It heated up quite a bit, coming into the weekend."
"I think that was kind of a big part in our win was factoring in the weather, getting the car to where it could leave consistently on a high one-hundred thirty degree track," he said. "But we race a lot of hot summer races and we have kind of taken our lumps here lately on how to get the car down the track. The biggest thing for me was over eight total runs and all those weather and track conditions, the car only varied four thousandths in the sixty foot times."
"For a turbo car, that is almost unheard of," he added. "A couple of weeks ago, we made a four-link change and it's really paid off. It's much more drivable and we've got a little more power since the guys at GM found a little something for us. It was just a matter of tweaking the suspension to get it off the starting line and it worked out pretty well."
While in professional drag racing categories, qualifying number one is what everyone is shoot for, not always so in sportsman classes and especially in Comp Eliminator. "After session number one I was number two and I had actually shut off early," he explained. "I wanted to fall down a little bit with the way the ladder lays out. They say number eight is the best spot when you have a full field in Comp, so I at least wanted to drop down to six to give us a better chance of getting in rounds, without having to use up index [CIC Penalty]."
Massel was a little apprehensive about his first round pairing with Pete Carbery, since it would be one where he would leave first. "I'm always a little nervous when I'm getting chased and I'm holding a bunch in terms of power", he admitted. "We were more than capable of going sixty-five to sixty-eight under with the way the car was sitting and to be quite honest, I couldn't slow the car down anymore."
"He had some issues around mid-track and had to shut off and that allowed us to click it off early and get by unscathed," he added. "So that was a good start to the weekend."
It wasn't just Carbery's troubles that helped put Massel into round two, it was also the massive .083 starting line advantage that gave him plenty to work with right at the hit and off to meet up with Chris McGaha, where things were a little different.
"You know, I've learned that anytime I lay back on the tree, I get burned," he pointed out. "But second round, I got away with one. I was a little nervous, since it was starting to get dark out and when you use a blinder in Comp and it's dark, it's usually trouble. It was one of those things where I didn't know whether to use it or not, and I went without it and flinched on the tree."
While Massel had an uncharacteristic .086 reaction time, there were no worries as he had already bagged the round when McGaha went .034 red. "We dodged a bullet that round," he said of his light. "I think we had enough power to catch him, but it would have cost us some CIC had he not gone red."
Massel pointed out that, like many rounds, winning this one the way he did had huge implications for him. "With the huge swing in temperatures and overall track conditions that we knew was looming for elimination rounds on Sunday, getting past second round clean [no CIC] Saturday evening was a huge thing for me."
For round three on Sunday, it would be another Cobalt sitting in the opposite lane, only a much different configuration than that of Massel. "I was .022 on the tree to his .024," he reflected. "I felt that I did a pretty good job of driving the stripe by taking only a hundredth win light. Even though it cost me, I was able to get by with only using up two [hundredths CIC] and get into the next round."
The semi-final would find Massel matched up with Lou Ficco Jr.. Off the line first with nearly five-hundredths of a second advantage, Massel hung on to that and a little more at the stripe to sail into the championship round.
As luck would have it, it was Massel's day to win. Massel posted another very comfortable .023 light and before he even had a chance to run the final to the stripe, saw his win light due to Clint Neff's .025 too quick off the line.
"My four year old son is the biggest diehard race fan you will ever meet and before I even left the house, he was telling me 'Daddy, you have to win them all, you have to win the final," he noted. "Index wasn't of any consequence going into the final. I didn't care if God was in the other lane, we were going to beat him. So that was kind of the mentality I had. By the time I put it in second gear, I was already at his bumper, but that's when I saw the win light and my dad is screaming on the radio in my ear, so that was just one hell of a feeling."
Of Massel's now five NHRA National event wins, three of those have come for him during the Dallas event and more notably, over the last three years.
The 135ci Chevy Ecotech power plant, which has worked so well for him during the 2011 season, is fully protected by K&N filters and more recently, one of Massel's favorite K&N products is the air filter he added to his diesel pusher motorhome from K&N's new Heavy Duty line.
"We love it," he said when asked about the new HD filter. "Honestly, we are getting more performance out of the rig, in terms of not only fuel mileage but also in terms of power. Any little bit you can get with those things, especially in terms of fuel mileage, is just huge."
Massel will head next to a NHRA Division event in Noble, Oklahoma October 7-9.
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