Mike Castellana

Rowe’s win combined by number one qualifier nitrous racer Mike Castellana’s upset loss in the first round to Steve Matusek gave Rowe a one-point lead (231 to 230) over Castellana.

One dubious first was the lack of a complete field. Just 14 teams entered the competition at this event, which meant that one of the first round winners would advance to the semifinals automatically.

Steve Matusek

That racer turned out to be NHRA Pro Mod rookie Steve Matusek and his turbocharged 2012 Mustang. Matusek qualified in the 14th spot, which meant he would face number-one qualifier Mike Castellana in the first round. At the hit both cars shook the tires. Matusek won the pedal fest with a 6.267/226.20 effort to get by Castellana’s game 6.613/203.46

Matusek’s first round win and subsequent second-round bye made his Roush Racing Engine-equipped Mustang the first true Ford-powered NHRA Pro Mod to qualify and advance in Eliminations since the NHRA declared that the Pro Mods would be a professional class.

Missing from the lineup at Houston were series regulars Scott Ray, Mike Janis, Rickie Jones and series sponsor Roger Burgess, who has missed the last two ProCare Rx events.