2020 NHRA U.S. NATIONALS - PRO MOD NOTEBOOK
SATURDAY NOTEBOOK - FIELD IS SET, WINNER CROWNED IN RAIN DELAYED FINAL
SETTLING UNFINISHED BUSINESS - Chad Green understands what he managed to pull off Saturday at Lucas Oil Raceway isn't the norm.
The Midland, Texas-based drive his nitrous-injected Corvette around the supercharged Camaro of Jason Scruggs to win the Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals 48 days after the event was postponed due to rain.
Nevermind the fact he won his first career NHRA Pro Modified race on the momentous run, the doorslammer fan in Green had a front-row seat to a really cool drag race.
"That was a very cool run," Green said emphatically. "He was out in front of me and I was gaining on him. I was looking at the finish line, seeing if I had enough real estate left, and I think I was going to get him anyway, and all of a sudden he just disappeared. But yeah, I was nervous about that one."
Call it good fortunes or whatever, Green understands what happened to him Saturday evening was not the norm.
"No, it's not too often, but we got a really good car right now; that seems to be our strong part right now is on the big end with this car," Green explained. "We didn't know about today, because the conditions were so much different from the first race. But hey, it all worked out."
According to Green, the adjusted altitude was 800 feet better on Saturday than it was on the original July date.
Needless to say, Saturday's success makes for a ton of confidence headed into Sunday's U.S. Nationals final eliminations.
"We said when we came here, we're coming here to get two of them, so we got one done and ready to go get the other one." Green said.
Green ended qualifying as the No. 12 seeded entry with a 5.823 elapsed time at 250.09 miles per hour. He will face another nitrous racer in NHRA Indy Nationals champion Jonathan Gray.
HANG ON MAN! - Khalid Balooshi admits he doesn't have time to think when his Pro Modified car gets out of the groove. He reacts.
Saturday, during the Q-2 session, the Dubai native got a little more then he bargained for.
Balooshi ran a 5.761 elapsed time at 251.72, a run which vaulted him ten spots into the No. 5 slot, but it wasn't the number on the scoreboard which got everybody's attention. It was his turbocharged Camaro fishtailing at speed which stood out.
"I thought I was in the clear and smooth; everything was fine until I threw the parachute," Balooshi explained. "I think that the parachute got under the wheelie bar and lifted the car. It all caught me by surprise, but thanks to God, I save the car. I try my best to save it, but I've been lucky, don't crash the car."
Such an incident has become second-nature to Balooshi who has driven everything from Top Fuel dragster to extreme hill-climbing vehicles.
"This is something you cannot learn in a book," Balooshi said. This is how you react and how you think you going to do it. If something you need to stay and study, like, 'Okay, if this happened, this need to do."
"Until you think, your brain tell you, is you will be late. You react and doing what should you want to do? That's it. You cannot go and study with it, if this happen, you need to do this. Until you think about it and you react, this will be later on."
The personable Balooshi remains in love with drag racing. He has opportunities to be very successful in business, but the quarter-mile remains his passion.
"This is what really I like to do," Balooshi said. "We have a big business running at home, all the family, all the family running the business. I tell them, 'Thank you guys, I'm going, having fun. This is what I've been enjoying doing."
Oh, the family has tried to get him involved.
"They try it earlier, 'No, you need to be part of that, et cetera. I don't think so. I'm the guy to be part of it, but now they're happy."
"Like when I wake up in the morning, "Oh, what I'm doing now?"
"I don't feel I need to go to the sit in my office, I need to go do something."
And to Balooshi, corralling an out of control race car seems a better way to spend his time.
There are fewer things better than reacquainting with a longtime friend. If the old friend brings along sponsorship, that's the icing on the cake.
MATCH MADE IN TEQUILA - This scenario is precisely what happened this weekend for Pro Modified racer Steve Matusek when he and Fran Vivenzio got together for the Denso NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.
Matusek qualified No. 9 in the 16-car Pro Modified field with his turbocharged Mustang sporting sponsorship from Tequila Comisario, a premium tequila brand. Tequila Comisario is part of the Elite Beverage International group.
"Fran was with Agave Underground when Danny [Rowe] and I were racing together, and we've been talking about it for quite some time," Matusek said.
If one might think the sponsorship was great, for Matusek, the perks of being associated with Tequila Comisario go beyond part of the company's marketing activation.
"One of the stockholders in the company is Franco Harris, and they've got some pretty high profile people," Matusek explained. "I got to meet Franco last year, which was awesome because he's a boyhood idol of mine because I grew up in Pittsburgh.
"It just kind of came together and he had an opportunity and we've been talking back and forth and the deal was pretty much signed on Friday of last week. So this happened in a matter of days, but we got that drag race mentality so we pulled it all together."
Vivenzio, who is Vice President - National Sales Manager of Elite Beverage, knew Matusek provided a perfect fit. Drag racing provided the ultimate platform.
"It just was a match made in heaven," Vivenzio said. "I love coming to the races, and I love tequila. I've always been very passionate about drag racing myself. I drag raced as a kid many, many years ago. I lived probably less than 10 miles from the Englishtown track. I grew up in New Jersey. So we'd be out there every weekend, running our street cars and stuff like that. So, I was very passionate about it.
"When the opportunity arose a few years ago to hook up with Danny Rowe Racing, I mean, I was like a kid in a candy store. My fire started again. And even without sponsoring, I'd go to quite a few races. I live in Arizona, so I always go to the Phoenix race with a group of friends. In fact, a couple of them were just here. So, it's just been for me, passionate. I love it."
And as Matusek and Vivenzio see it, those are the best kind of deals.
SCRUGGS BEING SCRUGGS - Well, that didn't take long.
Jason Scruggs, the iconic eighth-mile doorslammer racer who is transitioning to full-track quarter-mile Pro Modified racing, secured his first NHRA Pro Modified top spot, albeit provisionally at the Denso NHRA U.S. Nationals outside of Indianapolis on Friday.
Scruggs, a multi-time Pro Extreme champion, thundered to a 5.717 elapsed time at 253.04 miles per hour to finish the day just ahead of Mike Janis (5.758), Jonathan Gray (5.759) and Rickie Smith (5.760).
"It's just one run, but this is blower air out here, and the Prochargers didn't make a good run," Scruggs explained. "But we really thought we'd go a .72 or .73 if we made a good run, so I'm real happy with .71."
The provisional top spot sends a strong message that Scruggs is ready for his rain-delayed final round against Chad Green from the NHRA Summernationals last month.
"Still, it's a lot of pressure," Scruggs said. "We've been building on it for a month and a half, I'm ready to get it over with. And hopefully we can get a Wally, but Chad Green, he's tough too. So, it's a 50/50 shot out here. Everybody's tough."
Friday's achievement is just one in a string of personal milestones for Scruggs, who admittedly followed in the footsteps of legendary Pro Modified racer Scotty Cannon with his domination in eighth-mile doorslammer racing.
"I didn't really think I'd be ever at Indy," Scruggs admitted. "But that being said, if we come to race, we always come to run good, I've always said that. And sometimes it don't work out. We don't even qualify at some of the races. But you know, we come with a mindset that we've got as good equipment as anybody and been doing this a long time. So we feel like, that if we have a little luck, that we can run with the top cars."
Saturday's Q2 session will feature the conclusion of the NHRA Summernationals, and double as a qualifying session.