The much sought after K&N Horsepower Challenge championship, and its $50,000 payday to the overall winner, all starts with drivers earning as many qualifying points as possible during each event on the NHRA schedule. 2012 K&N Horsepower Challenge champion, Vincent Nobile added his name to the history books earlier this year when he became one of the few to win the crown during his first shootout appearance, doing so by first making the top point earners without making a single career Pro Stock pole start. That all changed for the New York state native during the 5th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals held outside of Charlotte, North Carolina as he acquired the first ever NHRA Pro Stock number one qualifier.
NHRA Pro Stock racer Vincent Nobile adds another K&N Low Qualifier plaque to his collection.
When the Pro Stock teams first hit the track to begin qualifying, it was really no surprise for many to see Jason Line's name penciled in at the top. Coming into the most recent zMax race, Line had grabbed the number one spot at this facility for the last four events or dating back to the fall race in 2010. Even with Line's 6.570, Vincent Nobile was right on his tail with a great 6.573 for his qualifying opener and more left in the tank.
Vincent Nobile and the NHRA Pro Stock Mountain View Tire Dodge Avenger
Now that the teams had their first look at the track, they could do a little fine tuning to see if they could squeeze a little more out of both their chassis and their naturally aspirated power plants. For session two on Friday, weather conditions remained relatively the same as they were just a few hours prior during session one, but the track had cooled ever-so-slightly from 114 to 110. That seemed to help many Pro Stock teams kick it up a notch and get more of their power down the quarter-mile.
Again, it was a battle between Line and Nobile. Making their assigned lane swap from the previous session and saving the best lap for the final pair, Line stepped up his number a good distance to post a 6.554, but it was the number blazing on the board in the opposite lane that would be the mark to beat. Vincent Nobile powered his Mountain View Tire Dodge Avenger a full two and a half hundredths quicker to land the provisional number one for the meet and a nice 6.548.
"It felt good," said Nobile shortly following his second run. "I knew when I clutched it, it was a good run. Then my crew came over the radio and told me how fast I had run, and I was shocked. It was a great run. We went back and looked at the computer graph for the run and it looks flawless."
"Depending on the air we get tomorrow and the time we run, I believe it will hold," he continued. "We can even improve with the way the car is running now. It's responding to everything we are telling it to do. We made a few changes after Q-1, and it liked it. There's no reason why we can't do even better."
Nobile also mentioned that he and the team had been chasing an electrical problem for quite a few months and they were happy that they were able to finally pinpoint and correct it.
"We're always striving for number one but we are not like all of these other teams that go testing every week," said Nobile. "We are weekend warriors in the truest sense. We pack the car up after the race and roll it out for the next one. We rarely test, or try to improve ourselves, like that. When we test, it's usually at the event."
Come Saturday, the conditions were not quite as satisfactory as they had been the previous day for the first two sessions. Pro Stock numbers remained good, but could not mirror early event numbers from Friday.
With his 6.548 effort during session two, Vincent Nobile not only nailed his first NHRA Pro Stock number one but the 20 year-old also added his first K&N Low Qualifier plaque to his collection as well as snagging the $3,000 bonus check and the max Horsepower Challenge bonus points to his growing total.
"For my team it meant the world to them, just because they worked so hard on the car and it performed (the way they wanted)," Nobile said of his first Pro Stock pole. "I owe it all to the team. They made the car go fast. I just drove it. But coming into the weekend I did not expect to be number one qualifier."
Following the Concord, North Carolina event, just eight races remain to earn points during qualifying for the 2013 K&N Horsepower Challenge. Only the top seven point earners will get to play their hand for the $50,000 shootout and the eighth once again being selected by fan vote. The Pro Stock shootout venue and date have been changed for the upcoming season and will take place much earlier in the year as well as the opposite side of the country from years past. Las Vegas will play host to the K&N HPC during the 14th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at "The Strip" at LVMS, April 5-7, 2013.
Details are coming soon on how fans can not only vote to help make sure their favorite NHRA Pro Stock driver gets into the show, but also full information on the next edition of the K&N Horsepower Challenge Sweepstakes, where eight lucky fans will be selected at random from all who have entered for a chance of their own to win big.
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