Yes, that WAS Spencer Massey driving a Top Fuel car at zMAX Dragway this weekend. And, yes, it was THAT Spencer Massey, the one who has 18 national-event victories in his career.
Massey returned after a nearly four-year absence from Top Fuel, driving for Pat Dakin. It’s a one-off race at the NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Massey said, as he’s just keeping his Top Fuel license active. After this weekend, he’ll return to what he loves, bracket racing.
“It’s wonderful to be back out,” Massey said. “To be able to see my old friends and hang out and smell nitro, I mean it’s amazing. Don’t get me wrong, I love Top Fuel racing, but I’m having so much fun doing what I’ve been doing, bracket racing, doing my alcohol dragster. But being able to be out here and see the fans come by and hang out with Dakin and the amazing crew that they have here, I couldn’t ask for a better team and a better track really to be at.”
Massey said the veteran Dakin has been asking him to drive since 2016, but he resisted doing a race. Dakin, though, persisted, and Massey finally decided to return to the driver’s seat for one event.
“They kept asking, ‘What race would you want to come back at?’ and I’d say Dallas because it’s my hometown, or Charlotte because I’ve won here a few times in the past,” Massey said. “I like the 4-Wide and it’s only three rounds of eliminations. So when I got here, Dakin’s like, ‘Hey, do you want to drive?’ I’m like, ‘Well, I don’t have to. I mean you can drive this thing, it’s your car.’ He said, ‘Well if you’re here, you’ve got your helmet and your fire suit, you’re driving.'”
Massey first drove Dakin’s rail in St. Louis in 2016, simply to keep his license current. He drove it again in Martin, Mich., after a match race between Dakin and Dom Lagana.
“(Dakin and I) have a very good relationship just from even going back 11 years ago when I first got my Top Fuel license with Mitch King,” Massey said. “So Pat Dakin and I are just really good friends. He said he wants me to drive the car. He doesn’t have a problem driving it, but he doesn’t have a problem not driving it either. So I said, ‘Well maybe one race we’ll do it.’
“I happened to be coming this way to hit up another bracket race and had the weekend off. I was coming through to hang out with Scott Palmer and hang out with Dakin and now I’m driving. So that’s just how it happened to be, but I’m glad I’m here.”
Don’t expect to see Massey driving at any other NHRA races, though. He’s had his fill of “the show.”
“I miss driving the car and I miss hanging out with my friends,” Massey said. “I don’t really miss the show, I don’t miss the headache. The last four years of me driving that other car (with Don Schumacher Racing), it was coming out of our pocketbook, pocketbook. You can only do that so long when you’re not getting the results that you want. That’s why I decided to go a different way.
“And now that I don’t have to deal with all that, Pat Dakin didn’t have to worry about any other people except for himself and myself, and that’s the perfect opportunity for me to do what I want to do.”
Massey’s tenure with DSR ended in August 2015, and Brainerd was his last race. At the time, DSR said Massey “violated a DSR policy and would not correct the violation.” Massey disputed that Saturday, saying he had already decided to leave the team to go bracket racing.
“That’s in the past,” Massey said. “I mean obviously they have a different opinion of how I thought it went down because they didn’t fire me, I told them I was done, I was quitting. Then next thing you know I see that they let me go. I’m like, ‘That’s not how that went, but OK.’ Whatever they want to say, I don’t care because I’m going home.”
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019