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Massey puts on a show in NASCAR country

Top Fuel points leader Spencer Massey rocks the NHRA's Four-Wide Nationals at Concord N.C., winning for the third time in five races this season and doing it at a speed that topped 332 mph at zMAX Dragway. (Photo by Ron Lewis)
Top Fuel points leader Spencer Massey rocks the NHRA's Four-Wide Nationals at Concord N.C., winning for the third time in five races this season and doing it at a speed that topped 332 mph at zMAX Dragway. (Photo by Ron Lewis)

National Hot Rod Association drivers wowed usually too-cool-for-school NASCAR headliners with a 28,000-horsepower, rubber-burning, ground-rumbling blur of color and speed they never could imagine or duplicate in their circle-track cocoon. And nobody did it in finer style than Top Fuel dominator Spencer Massey.

Sprint Cup Series notables including Trevor Bayne, Joey Logano, Martin Truex, and the Wood Brothers -- fresh from their Samsung Mobile 500 race last night at Texas Motor Speedway -- scrambled to their Charlotte home bases Sunday to see racing they marveled at and called "crazy" and "insane."

What they saw Sunday at the Four-Wide Nationals was drag-racing at its wildest -- and its record-breaking best. And though they just had been in Fort Worth, the racer from Fort Worth stole this show in the Top Fuel class.

Massey earned his third $50,000 victory in five starts this year, using a 3.802-second pass in the Prestone/FRAM Dragster at a thundering 332.18 mph that he called "unreal at 1,000 foot." It improved the national speed record he already had set in the first round.

Massey said he wasn't certain who had won the final round that featured three Don Schumacher Racing drivers and Doug Kalitta.

"When I crossed the finish line, I didn't realize who had won, because with these four-wides, it's kind of difficult to figure out," he said, adding that soon, "Everybody was saying, 'You won!' and 'Here's the trophy!' The they told me: 332 miles an hour."

Tony Schumacher, runner-up and carrying a 28-race winless streak to the O'Reilly Spring Nationals at Baytown, Texas, in two weeks, earlier in the day had become the first ever to run 330 mph at 1,000 feet. About 10 minutes after doing so, Massey upstaged him by trumping Schumacher's 330.23 with a 330.55.

With that, Massey rewrote his own national speed record he set February 12 at Pomona, Calif., in the season-opener, for he already this weekend had a back-up pass to validate the number. (En route to winning the Winternationals, Massey posted a 328.62-mph mark.)

Schumacher was the one who excitedly broke the news to Massey about the 332-plus-mph stunner. "He was just as ecstatic as our crew guys," Massey said. "And trust me, Tony wants to win, and it's been way too long since he's been in the winners circle."

Massey said the performance "tells you how awesome this Prestone/FRAM team is working with Phil Shuler and Todd Okuhara. Don [boss Schumacher] has to be extremely happy."

He said Shuler and Okuhara might have been trying to hit a 332 sped but if so they never told him.

"I wouldn't have even guessed it," Massey said. "We were just trying to go down the racetrack . . . And not try to beat ourselves. That's been kind of our motto lately, not to overpower [the track] and beat ourselves. If we can go A to B, hey -- they've got to beat us. They've got to outrun us.

"It was awesome going 328 yesterday [Saturday in qualifying], then coming out this morning and blistering that 330, right after watching Tony Schumacher go 330 miles an hour," he said.

Massey, who beat Schumacher in the final by about 28 feet (0.0596 seconds), said the safety of going that fast "is getting better and better every year. I want to go faster. I don't want to slow down. As I was coming up the return road, I saw Graham Light [NHRA's senior vice-president of racing operations] and I said, 'Don't slow us down!' "

Massey leads Schumacher by 22 points in the standings after five races on the 23-event Full Throttle Drag Racing Series tour.

Schumacher, in the U.S. Army Dragster with a salute this week to the Army Reserve, set low elapsed time of the weekend with his career-best E.T. of 3.753 seconds. It came in the first round as he made Top Fuel history once again. Schumacher also was the first to run 330 mph in the quarter-mile. (The course was shortened midway through the 2008 season, following the death of Scott Kalitta during a Funny Car qualifying accident.)

This marked the third time in five races this year that Schumacher has been runner-up, and he said, "It is getting kind of old." He was 0-7 in final-round appearances last season.

"We are going to do like we always do and keep our heads up," Schumacher said. "We're going to break down the door eventually. It was another close one, for sure, but we've been on the short end of too many of those kinds of races the last year and a half. I'm ready to turn our fortunes around."

When he earns his next elimination-round victory, he'll have 600. "The 600th round-win will definitely come, and so will a race win," he said. "Like they say, patience is a virtue."

And 332 miles an hour is hard to beat.

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