Nobile said, “No pressure” when learning he would meet Mike Edwards in the final round, and he didn’t exhibit any kind of worry when the two lined up for the first time ever in eliminations. Nobile beat Edwards off the starting line, although Edwards caught up by half-track and edged the 19-year old by about only two feet for a 0.0079-second margin of victory.
Edwards denied Nobile the distinction of being the youngest race winner in NHRA Pro Stock history. But Edwards and Allen Johnson both indicated he has an excellent chance to earn that honor.
“That Vincent Nobile, he is going to be quite a Pro Stock driver, I can tell you that right now,” Edwards said. “That young man, he’s a super talent. He’s going to win some of these races. He’s going to give us old guys a run for our money, I can tell you that.”
Allen Johnson agreed: “The kid is doing great. It’s a joy to watch him do well, and it feels good to have our Mopar/J&J engine in the final round. I think in the next couple of races if we can get on opposite sides of the ladder, you’ll see us both in the finals. If we can both get up there in the top five, it’ll start to get fun.”
It’s starting to get fun for Buddy Perkinson, another 19-year-old Pro Stock rookie. He failed to qualify for the Las Vegas grid but went home to Virginia with high spirits.
“This weekend was a lot different than what we’ve been used to, teamwise. Each time we went to the starting line, I knew everything we had done to the car. I knew the chances of it shaking and our chances of slipping the clutch, which I did when Bob [Glidden] was with us, too. But it was definitely more of a team thing this time,” Perkinson said.
“I really had a good feeling of what the car was supposed to do before we ever even went to the starting line, because the four of us sat in the trailer and we all made the decisions together. I got asked my opinion along with everybody else, and that just really made me feel like a part of the team that I had never really felt before.”
As for performance, Perkinson said, “We’ll get there. Yes, we did struggle (at Las Vegas), but we’re going to do some testing before Charlotte. And I really think we’re going to be just fine as long as we continue to work together. I really do. We should get all of our parts in before the truck gets back to the shop. We’ll have our motors freshened up and ready to go quickly. We have some new intakes and new things we’d like to try…some carburetors for sure. We’re not going to do anything drastic. We just need to get more data for the four of us to make better decisions.”
Whether it’s a decision to step back for a new wave of drivers or a decision to move forward and grow, the NHRA is seeing a shift.