Riverside, California, July 11, 2012 - This past weekend's K&N Horsepower Challenge proved to be a perfect showcase for the NHRA's most competitive class. Run as part of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, the 28th running of the specialty event pitted eight of Pro Stock's best drivers in a three-round shootout with the winner taking home $50,000. Despite blistering heat and drenching humidity, the capacity crowd was treated to a day of tremendous racing including numerous hole shots and several surprises.
2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge
Vincent Nobile Wins 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio taking home $50,000
In the end, however, it was the category's youngest driver, Vincent Nobile, who ended the day in the winner's circle, defeating No. 1 qualifier Jason Line in the final. Afterwards, the sophomore sensation gave full credit to someone he had met less than 24 hours before - Peggy Coleman, the K&N Horsepower Sweepstakes finalist from Joplin, Mo., a survivor of last year's tornados who was paired with Nobile and thanks to his win took home a one-of-a-kind special edition 2012 Toyota Tundra Double Cab created by Toyota Racing Development (TRD) and K&N Engineering.
"After I heard Peggy's story, the money didn't matter, the trophy didn't matter - all I wanted to do was win for her, and I'm so glad I did," said Nobile, driver of the MountainView Tire Dodge Avenger who also won the race on Sunday, collecting a $25,000 "double-up" bonus from the NHRA in the process. "She lost almost everything last year in the tornados, so to be able to win that Toyota Tundra for her was absolutely awesome.
"I knew she was someone special from the moment I met her on Friday, and when I heard her story, it really touched me. Even though I knew I had to win for her, I didn't feel any extra pressure - it actually made things easier for me. I'm so happy we were able to deliver for her, and want to thank the Mitsos family, my father and my entire Mountainview Dodge team for giving me such a great car to drive.
"I also want to thank everyone at K&N for putting on this tremendous event and for involving the fans through the sweepstakes, as well as Toyota for providing that gorgeous truck Peggy will soon be driving. Finally, I want to thank Peggy Coleman for being such an inspiration - she was the real reason I was able to win."
Vincent and Sweepstakes Winner Peggy Coleman, with Don Brown and Don Cecconi from Toyota
For Coleman, the trip to the Buckeye State was a welcome pause from over a year of recovery efforts following the devastating storms which wiped out most of their possessions. Despite the tremendous loss, much like the majority of the Joplin community, she maintained a positive outlook, focusing instead on doing whatever was necessary to put their lives back together. For example, with husband Gary's pickup truck having been demolished, she entered the K&N sweepstakes, never thinking she would actually be the one to win the new Toyota. In fact, when called about being selected as one the finalists, she was somewhat incredulous. However, from the moment she was paired with the young driver from Dix Hills, N.Y., things just started to fall into place.
"As I told the other contestants, even if we hadn't won the Toyota, it was great just to be able to get away from everything we'd been dealing with at home for a little while," said Coleman. "For the most part, everyone in our town shares our positive attitude and over the last year help has poured in from all over the country, which has been amazing. So to be selected as one of the eight finalists and flown to Norwalk for the weekend put a big smile on our faces, and winning that beautiful pickup was just an added benefit that I could not believe. We had an awesome time all weekend with everyone being so nice.
"When I met Vincent and saw his team color was purple I was thrilled because that's my favorite color. He was so humble and polite, and his entire family and team were so very nice. After the first round I heard someone call my name and it was Vincent's mother, who gave me a big hug and told me he was going to win the race for me.
"Every time I saw him, I kept telling Vincent he was going to do it, and even after he won on Saturday, I told him he was going to win again on Sunday and he did. From here on out, I'll be sure to watch the NHRA races on TV and root for Vincent to keep on winning. On top of everything else that happened during the weekend, when Caitlin from K&N called me on Monday after the race and told me about everyone offering to pay the taxes, it just brought tears to my eyes all over again. It was just like a wonderful dream, and I want to thank everyone at K&N for making it so special."
As the story of the Coleman family spread throughout the Pro Stock pits at Summit Motorsports Park, the racing community responded, with several teams volunteering to pay any taxes pertaining to their winning the truck. After acknowledging the teams' generosity, the Toyota Motor Company added to their already substantial contribution by including the cost of the tariffs, assuring the Colemans would not have to pay anything for their new custom pickup.
"K&N's involvement with the Horsepower Challenge has been a tremendous experience, but the circumstances surrounding this year's event stand above the rest," said Caitlin Clement, Series and Track Support Manager for K&N Engineering. "We want to commend all eight drivers for putting on a great show under very difficult weather conditions and congratulate Vincent Nobile on his exciting win.
"We are also thrilled to be able to present Peggy Coleman with her new K&N Horsepower Challenge Edition Toyota Tundra. Her story of survival is just amazing, and we hope this new truck helps in some small way with her recovery efforts. We appreciate all the teams who inquired about paying the Colemans' taxes, and are grateful to Toyota for volunteering to cover the costs involved. All in all, the 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge was a tremendous event, and we are already working to make next year's edition even better."
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