Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals: Young racer making bid for title
Just one year after racing in only one event, 28-year-old Spencer Massey is driving like a Top Fuel champion in 2011.
Massey ranked second in season points entering the Top Fuel division of the 30th Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. And the Texan cranked out a track-record time of 3.835 at 322.58 mph Friday night to capture the provisional No. 1 qualifying position.
After cruising at 3.932 and 304.87 in Friday’s first qualifying run, Massey rebounded and put together a scintillating second run.
“The cloud cover came and the track cooled off, and we can actually apply the power to the race track,” he said. “The first run I actually made it down there and didn’t smoke the tires. I was watching everybody out in front smoke the tires, and we never actually made it to that point, so I thought, ‘Here we go, we’re going to make it,’ and we went down through there.”
Massey teammate Tony Schumacher qualified second at 3.836 and 319.60. Antron Brown, another Massey teammate, was 10th at 3,951 and 284.33. Schumacher and Brown ran after Massey had completed his second pass.
“We knew we were going to have a Don Schumacher racing car in the No. 1 spot,” Massey said, “and obviously I like it when I’m No. 1 because I like being No. 1. It’s always a plus when I get to talk to you guys up here in the press box, so it’s an accomplishment.
“It’s fun, it’s awesomeand hopefully it can hold up for (Saturday) or make it even better.”
With the afternoon and early evening going from sunny to cloudy teams appeared to be more aggressive in their tuneups for the last run.
“That’s exactly right,” Massey said. “The cloud cover came over and it looked like it might even rain. I liked the way, with the cloud cover coming in, that (crew chiefs) Phil Shuler and Todd (Okuhara) kept making those adjustments.
“As a matter of fact, even after the burnout, I’m backing up, pulling forward up to the line, and Phil reaches into the body and makes a little adjustment, which normally never happens. He saw something there that he liked, and actually made it a little more aggressive.
“So when I got back I said, ‘Hey Phil, nice adjustment before I staged,’ and he said, ‘Hey, it worked.”
Massey didn’t know what his car’s game plan would be Saturday.
“Younever know with Todd, he likes to try and repeat,” Massey said, “but they don’t really tell me too much, which is kind of good.
“We’ll probably get out there and go from A to B. The conditions are going to be pretty similar. I’m sure the sun’s going to be out a lot more (Saturday). We might see a lot more tire smokes. We could see low 9s and high 8s. I’m sure we’ll try to make it a race day tune-up because it’s going to be pretty similar for Sunday.”
What does a young, single racer do Friday night at a track home of “The Zoo” camping area.
“I do have to go to bed, but I didn’t say what happens between now and going to bed,” Massey laughed.
Tony Schumacher had the best qualifying run in Round One with a time of 3.907 at 298.73 mph.
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at 855-5861.