Vincent Nobile beats teammate Jason Line at Joliet to earn first NHRA Pro Stock win in nearly a year

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JOLIET, Illinois – When Vincent Nobile moved to Ken Black Racing after last season, the goal was obviously to win races in Pro Stock.

It took him a bit longer to do so than he planned – going 12 starts in 2014 – but the 22-year-old Nobile finally earned his first win of both the season and with his new team, defeating two-time world champion and teammate Jason Line in Sunday’s final round of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.

Nobile crossed the finish line first with a run of 6.655 seconds at 208.01 mph. Line was slightly quicker (6.637 seconds) and faster (209.26 mph), but Nobile won the race with a far quicker reaction time: .004 seconds to Line’s .031 effort.

It was Nobile’s ninth career win and his first since Seattle last summer.

“It’s a great win, kind of a long time coming,” Nobile said. “I know I’m young and I’ve won some races, but when you go a streak like I’ve done and not won one, you kind of forget what it feels like. But today definitely refreshed my memory.”

It was Nobile’s second straight final round appearance. He made a shifting error in last week’s race at Epping, New Hampshire and wound up with a runner-up finish.

He was bound and determined not to make another mistake Sunday.

“I kind of choked a little bit there short-shifting and it cost us the race,” Nobile said. “We would have sealed the deal there, I’m pretty confident about it, but I came back here confident and I think I redeemed myself.

“Nobody’s perfect and I’m the first to admit it. I had the car (last week) and it was just me. Today as a team, we all came together and got it done.”

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Final finishing order (1-16) at the 17th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway:

 

PRO STOCK:

1.  Vincent Nobile; 2.  Jason Line; 3.  Dave Connolly; 4.  Shane Tucker; 5.  Allen Johnson; 6.  Erica Enders-Stevens; 7.  Shane Gray; 8.  Jeg Coughlin; 9.  V. Gaines; 10.  Jonathan Gray; 11.  Greg Anderson; 12.  Larry Morgan; 13.  Mark Martino; 14.  Mark Hogan; 15.  Dave River; 16.  Chris McGaha.

 

 

Round-by-round results from the 17th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway:

PRO STOCK:

ROUND ONE — Dave Connolly, Chevy Camaro, 6.618, 209.43 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, foul; Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.639, 209.20 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, broke; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.619, 209.10 def. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.624, 208.81; Shane Gray, Camaro, 12.771, 68.13 def. V. Gaines, Dodge Dart, foul; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.601, 210.24 def. Mark Martino, Pontiac GXP, 6.696, 207.21; Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.606, 209.72 def. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.680, 207.27; Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.620, 208.71 def. Mark Hogan, GXP, 6.737, 205.35; Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.658, 209.36 def. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 14.169, 49.29;

QUARTERFINALS — Tucker, 6.658, 208.71 def. Enders-Stevens, 6.647, 208.59; Connolly, 6.635, 209.23 def. Johnson, 6.625, 208.46; Nobile, 6.645, 208.36 def. Coughlin, foul; Line, 6.630, 209.75 def. S. Gray, 6.667, 208.26;

SEMIFINALS — Nobile, 6.638, 208.55 def. Tucker, 6.699, 208.62; Line, 6.628, 208.94 def. Connolly, 6.634, 208.78;

FINAL — Nobile, 6.655, 208.01 def. Line, 6.637, 209.26.

 

 

Point standings (top 10) following Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway:

Pro Stock

1.  Erica Enders-Stevens, 1,036; 2.  Jeg Coughlin, 846; 3.  Allen Johnson, 845; 4.  Jason Line, 830; 5.  Vincent Nobile, 785; 6.  Dave Connolly, 782; 7.  Shane Gray, 769; 8.  V. Gaines, 552; 9.  Chris McGaha, 525; 10.  Jonathan Gray, 432.

MRTI: Barber Recap

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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The weekend at Barber Motorsports Park for the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires was a tale of two completely different days.

Saturday was a picturesque Spring day for Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, with bright sunshine and temperatures above 70 degrees. Sunday, however, was much cooler and wetter, with rain hitting both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights races.

Still, the packed weekend for both series produced plenty of drama, and each now sees its championship picture beginning to take shape.

Major stories to surface from the weekend at Barber for both series are below.

Indy Lights

  • Pato O’Ward has been, by a considerable margin, the fastest driver after four races in 2018. A winner of three races – which easily could be four if not for a mistake while leading Race 2 in St. Petersburg – and a polesitter for two, O’Ward has asserted himself as the early-season man to beat in the title chase, leading Santi Urrutia with 110 points to 94. O’Ward already has big-league championship to his name – he was a co-champion of the Prototype Challenge class in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship last year, and he is poised to add to that in 2018.
  • Victor Franzoni is starting to get his arms around the IL-15. Last year’s Pro Mazda champion gets better with every race, and he earned his first Indy Lights podium in Race 2 at Barber, finishing second. It would hardly be a surprise if Franzoni breaks into the win column soon.
  • Aaron Telitz’s run of hard luck continued in Race 1 on Saturday, as he was collected by a spinning Dalton Kellett and retired from the race with a damaged right-front. That meant through three races, Telitz had completed a combined four corners. Race 2 finally produced a clean day for the 2016 Pro Mazda champion, as he ran all the laps on his way to finishing fourth.
  • Colton Herta scored a double-podium at Barber, with finishes of second and third. Sitting on 83 points, he is 19 back of leader O’Ward. He’ll need to break into the win column to make up ground, but consistently finishing on the podium will also help his efforts, and prevent O’Ward from making big leaps away from him.

Pro Mazda

  • Although he might be disappointed to miss out on sweeping the weekend, Parker Thompson has lots of reasons to smile leaving Barber, as he overtook Rinus VeeKay for the championship lead by four points, 102 to 98. Thompson has had two strong weekends to open the Pro Mazda season, with finishes of second, fifth, first, and second after four races. He and VeeKay have emerged as possible title combatants after the opening two weekends.
  • Speaking of VeeKay, the 17-year-old Dutchman had a quiet weekend at Barber, with finishes of fourth and fifth after lacking pace in qualifying – he qualified seventh and ninth for Race 1 and Race 2. After dominating at St. Pete, VeeKay’s lack of pace was somewhat puzzling, though it could be indicative of a Pro Mazda field that is deep with talent. Expect him to rebound at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in May.
  • Oliver Askew’s troublesome start to the 2018 season only got worse at Barber, with finishes of seventh and 12th on a weekend in which he never factored into the outcome. The struggles of him and Cape Motorsports is mystifying given their prowess in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda on their way to winning the championship last year. Getting into championship contention at this point is a tall task – he is 46 points behind Thompson – but righting the ship will be priority No. 1 for him and Cape heading to Indianapolis.
  • Harrison Scott enjoyed a great rebound after struggling in St. Pete, where he finished ninth and 12th. He took his first Pro Mazda podium in Race 1, finishing second, and then survived a chaotic and rainy Race 2 to take his first victory. The successful weekend also vaulted him into fourth in the championship.
  • David Malukas has also put together a solid season through four races, with finishes of seventh, second, third, and fifth. The BN Racing driver sits third in the championship, and may well end up challenging for race wins soon.

All three series of the Mazda Road to Indy will be in action at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course during the weekend of the INDYCAR Grand Prix (May 11-12), with USF2000 returning after a two-month break following the season opener in St. Petersburg.

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