Date published: April 15, 2011
Vincent Nobile positioned himself as the early front-runner for the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award by advancing to his first final round. "When I got to the final, I almost wanted to cry I was so happy. I'll be honest, I couldn't believe it," said Nobile. "This is all a dream come true. I can't thank Nick and Irene Mitsos and the rest of the Mitsos family, Mountain View Tire, NAPA Auto Parts, and my mom and dad enough. We get great horsepower from Allen Johnson and his father, Roy Johnson, we've got a great car from Jerry Haas, and our team is just awesome. Everybody behind me are just great people, and that's what you need to have to have a great race team."
Greg Stanfield appeared to be on his way to the final and possibly the winner's circle until he experienced trouble in the semifinals. "We're not sure what happened; we're trying to figure that out now," said Stanfield shortly after his exit. "We'll say driver error. We'll blame me. We won't blame nothing else. It's no big deal. We ran good today. We took out the two Summit cars. I felt real good today. I thought we were going to be there, but it wasn't meant to be."
Nobile's final-round appearance may qualify as the weekend's biggest surprise, but V. Gaines' run to the semifinals would be a close second. Gaines struggled in qualifying, entering the final session not in the field, but things began to come together for him on race day. "It certainly was a get-well day, and we needed it badly," said Gaines. "If we had gone home not qualified, as we almost did, we would have really been in trouble, but now we've got some confidence back and are getting the car down the track. It was a real good day."
Though Gaines had a good Sunday, it still wasn't perfect. The team burned up the clutch in its second-round victory over Shane Gray, and it was the second time it happened on a run during the weekend; the team burned through the clutch on its successful last-ditch run to make the field Saturday afternoon.
Erica Enders went on quite a wild ride in the second round against Mike Edwards when her car made a sharp turn toward the wall when she left the starting line. "That's about as interesting of a ride that I've ever had," said Enders. "I went up there and let the clutch out, and she took a hard right. Usually, she'll come back to me, but she wasn't at all. I know where the edge is, and it was still safe. It was still stuck. It wasn't loose out there, but I definitely drove a half a mile trying to get a quarter-mile." Enders' team swapped engines between the first and second rounds. "All our motors have pretty equal horsepower, but we felt like throughout the weekend that one sort of fell off," she said. "We ran our best run of the weekend first round - we went that .70 - and the rest of the field seemed to pick up a little more, so Victor [Cagnazzi] said, 'Put that one that's under the bench in.' That's the one that we qualified No. 1 with in Pomona."
Jason Line's winning streak came to an end when he lost to Stanfield in round two. "Since I'm obviously not going to win them all this year, I guess I'll just have to shoot for 21 out of 22," said Line. "My Summit Racing Pontiac wasn't happy all weekend and never ran as well as we liked, but it certainly could have been worse. We qualified well, won a round, and will leave with the points lead."
Richard Freeman brought his average up to .500 when he qualified for the second time in his fourth start. "The car crapped a little on us [in the first round], but, hey, to come out here and qualify with guys who I've admired my whole life, like Mike Edwards, Warren Johnson, and all those guys, and get to get up there beside them and drive beside them, that's a dream in itself," said Freeman.
Enders leaves the starting line first, and that is key. Brogdon runs quicker, but Enders' startingline advantage keeps her in front.
The result of the second pair is the same as the first, and Stanfield wins on a holeshot.
Nobile leaves the starting line first and sails to a 6.694, low e.t. of the weekend to this point, and Johnson's car wiggles a little in low gear but still runs a low 6.7.
This is another holeshot with Gray parlaying a .045-second jump at the Tree into a victory over Humphrey.
Morgan grabs a three-hundredths advantage out of the gate and leads at every increment except the one that counts. Line ekes by and wins by .002-second.
Freeman is better on the Tree, but Edwards makes up the difference and then some before they hit the 60-foot timers. From there, Edwards pulls away, laying down a low-of-the-weekend 6.672.
A. Johnson-K. Johnson
Kurt's car washes out a little when he leaves the starting line, and the wiggle ends his hopes because Allen cruises right down the groove.
Gaines cuts a .004 light that gives him a nearly one-tenth advantage, which he holds onto all the way through the stripe. Gaines' victory is on a holeshot, the fourth such outcome of the round.
Gray gets the jump at the Tree, but his car shakes hard, and he's all over the place, forcing the sophomore driver to give up. Gaines posts another 6.7.
Line's run starts out oddly when his first attempt at a burnout doesn't go according to plan, and the team has to push him back to try again. Things don't get any better for Line because Stanfield cuts a .009 light and outruns him.
After grabbing more than a hundredth out of the gate, Nobile steadily pulls away, outrunning engine supplier Johnson by three-hundredths.
Edwards' dominance continues with another 6.67 that puts him far ahead of Enders, who slowed after her car made a sharp move toward the wall at the hit.
Stanfield appears to have a mechanical issue because he red-lights by a bunch, then his car immediately noses over. Nobile continues his strong showing with a 6.69.
Gaines is off the starting line first by .024- second, but that's not nearly enough to keep his Cinderella run alive because Edwards sets a new standard for the weekend at 6.662.
Nobile does his job, leaving the starting line first, but his .011-second lead isn't enough to move around Edwards, who completes his dominant weekend with a 6.69 to 6.71 victory.