Vincent Nobile wasn’t shy in relaying his thoughts on how his 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season has gone this far. But the Pro Stock standout also expects his luck to change in his Mountain View Tire Chevrolet Camaro starting at this weekend’s 48th annual NHRA Summernationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
“I would pretty much say the season has gone terrible so far,” said Nobile, who is currently eighth in points. “It’s definitely not what we expected to this point. But everyone has ups and downs, and I think we’ll be really good in Englishtown. In the past we’ve done well on this East Coast swing. We haven’t been on the hot side yet, but it’s coming. It’s just a matter of time. We’re definitely looking forward to this weekend. I think it’s going to be a great race.”
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including finals coverage starting at 6:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday. It is the 10th of 24 events during a 2017 season that hasn’t yet gone as planned for the Melville, N.Y. native.
His lone semifinal appearance came in Topeka and Nobile, who has 10 career wins, hasn’t managed to put together the type of raceday consistency needed to win in a tough Pro Stock class. But seeing Elite Motorsports teammate Erica Enders win last weekend in Epping tells Nobile things may be changing. She was the seventh different Pro Stock winner through nine events and Nobile is ready to become the eighth in Englishtown.
“With Erica doing well, I think the whole program is turning around for the better,” Nobile said. “We all have the same stuff. With a three-car team (that also includes five-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr.), we’re all able to try different things at different times to benefit the whole team. We’ve all been trying different things, but whatever is working with Erica’s car seems to be the direction we need to go. Hopefully that correlates into success for us. There’s no reason we can’t do that.”
Racing just two hours from home, Nobile expects a big crowd of family and friends in Englishtown. That’s been the case since Nobile made his Englishtown debut in 2011, and while that adds extra pressure, Nobile believes he’s handled that aspect better each year since.
The focus now is making moves in a Pro Stock class led by Bo Butner, the current points leader, and rookie Tanner Gray, who both have two wins apiece. In the midst of a stretch of four straight race weekends, Nobile knows the time is now to get things moving. While he may not be able to catch Butner before the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship begins, Nobile’s goal is to get on a hot streak and move up the standings as much as possible before September arrives.
“The Countdown will be here before you know it,” Nobile said. “We need to make sure we turn the program around before that comes. We don’t want to start the Countdown in 10th. The lower you are, the harder it is to gain points back. We need to jump up and we need to start this weekend. It will be a challenge to move up a few spots, but we’re going to do our best moving forward.”
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 3:45 and 6:15 p.m. on Friday, June 9 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, June 10, at 1:45 and 4:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 11.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call Old Bridge Township Raceway Park at (732) 446-7800. Tickets also are available online at www.racewaypark.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult.