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Maryland Int'l Raceway  •  27861 Budds Creek Road  •  Mechanicsville, MD  20659

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   MIR e-News Headline

Robert Jones, Frank Thompson Jr., Christopher Mattera, and Jimmie Miller Win
2012 Speed Unlimited ET Series Titles


October 17, 2012


Press Release courtesy of:  Robbie Parlett

The Dash points playoff system was designed to make the points battles tight all the way to the last race, or final round of the season. 2012 was a perfect example of the Dash playing out exactly as designed. Entering the final weekend of the Speed Unlimited ET Series, the points battles were tight in all classes with several racers realistically having a chance to win in each class. And when all the dust had settled on the 2012 season, the class champion in 3 of the 4 classes claimed their crown by one round or less. With the point standings tight entering the final event of the year, the two-race Autofab Raider ET Series, there was sure to be some last second moves up and down the points list at the high car count event.

In Top ET, Robert Jones entered the weekend with a one round lead over Willy Hess Sr., Dale Smith and Jaycee Largent. Jones, the defending Speed Unlimited Top ET champ, had close competition and couldn’t afford to have an early exit on Saturday and let his competition close the gap. Jones made it through first round, but turned it red 2nd round, but was able to get back in the race with a bye in the re-entry round. His day ended earlier than he hoped however when Todd Welzel knocked him out in round 3. With the points leader out in round 3, in an 8 round race, there was plenty of opportunity for chasers to close in on the lead. Two racers making a big move were Jaycee Largent and Willy Hess Sr. Both drivers ended the day tied for the lead with Jones after they both made 4th round exits. Hess actually had a chance to make a bigger move when he won the mulligan and got put back in 5th round, but he was stopped in 5th round by Bob Avalos. Making the biggest move of the day was Bobby Spence. Spence entered the day in 9th place, 4 whole rounds behind the points leader Jones, but was able to make a big move to a tie for 4th, just one round back on the strength of his 6th round showing Saturday.

Heading into Sunday, the points were as tight as one could hope. Jones, Largent, and Hess all shared the lead, with 2010 points champ Dale Smith and Bobby Spence tied for 4th just one round back. Candi Derry and Mike Nelson Jr. sat tied for 6th, 3 rounds out of first. Jaycee Largent and Willy Hess got knocked out in round 1 re-entry. They were shortly followed by Mike Nelson Jr. and Dale Smith in round two. The pressure was starting to build as only three racers still had a shot at the points title heading into round 3. In round 3, Jones faced off with Darrell Lukhard. Jones got the jump on the tree, but at the stripe, Lukhard was able to run closer to his dial. The margin of victory was less than .001 seconds, in what must have been one of the tightest races of the day, with the win light coming on in Lukhard’s lane. Derry had already won her round 3 matchup over Todd Welzel, closing her to within two rounds of the lead. But for Spence, the pressure peaked. Spence was in the waterbox as he watched Jones get knocked out. Knowing that with a round win, he would be tied for the points lead, Bobby rose to the occasion and put together a .010 package to beat Ricky Harbaugh and move into a tie for the points lead. In round 4, Candi kept her momentum going by getting drawn for the bye run. But for Bobby Spence, he had to run Lukhard, who had just knocked Jones out of the race. This one was over quick, as Lukhard turned it red, giving Bobby a one round lead over Jones, and two round lead over Candi who still had a chance if Spence were to get knocked out of the race before the final.

Then in a twist that nobody saw coming, Robert Jones won the mulligan and was thrown back into the race in round 5. Jones could start earning points again for every win light he got for the rest of the night. So, all three drivers were back in the race, with Spence leading by one round over Jones, and two rounds over Candi. All three drivers made it through 5th round, ramping up the pressure even more. Then in 6th round, the story came to its climax. The very first pair out, matched up Bobby Spence and his fiancÚ Chelsea Derry, Candi’s sister. In what was show of true sportsmanship, the couple raced it out and didn’t take any dives. Chelsea beat Bobby on the strength of a holeshot, putting his fate as points leader in limbo. In the next pair, Candi Derry was knocked off by Duane Marquess, ending her title hopes. The following pair matched up Jones with Marshall Grooms. Jones got the win on the strength of a starting line advantage, and pulled back into a tie for the points lead with Spence. Then in the semifinals, Chelsea had a shot to help her fiancÚ out when she staged up against Jones. Jones was perfect on the tree and that was enough to hold off Chelsea’s run, putting Jones back in the lead by one round, and therefore clinching his second Speed Unlimited Points Championship in a row. In the finals, Jones lost to his good friend Duane Marquess. With the win, Marquess jumped into 3rd place in the points, behind Spence and in front of Candi Derry. Dale Smith, Jaycee Largent and Willy Hess Sr. all ended up in a tie for 5th. Regarding the 6th round matchup between Spence and Chelsea, MIR owner and promoter Royce Miller had this to say, “I was never been more proud and never felt more admiration for two young competitive racers as I did for Chelsea and Bobby. Knowing the Top ET Championship was on the line this engaged to be married couple played no games and raced for it. They are a class act and I am honored they race at MIR.” Congratulations to Robert Jones on his very hard earned Speed Unlimited points title in a row.

The story may have been slightly less dramatic in Mod ET, but the points standing finished tighter. Entering the weekend, Nicole Talbert had an 11 point lead over three racers, Joe Goldey, Bradley Tippett, and her father, Ed Talbert. Steve Cross Sr. sat in 5th with Brian McLaughlin in 6th just more than 2 rounds back. The Talbert family was unable to attend the final event of the season due to family commitments, so with the points leader not on the property and one of the racers tied for 2nd not around as well, the points lead was completely up for grabs. Then, as if it was going to be jumbled enough at the top, three of the 4 racers with the best shot at taking the lead went down early, before third round. Only McLaughlin made it to third round Saturday, but he was ousted there by Steve Cross Jr. After third round Saturday, every racer who entered the day in the top 7 in points was eliminated. This opened the door for some guys back in the pack to make a charge. And charge they did. Frank Thompson Jr. came into the day in 8th place, more than 4 rounds out of the lead. Eight time track champ, Johnny Mattera entered the weekend tied for 11th in points, more than 6 rounds out of the lead. But these two racers weaved their way through some tough competition to make big strides in the points. Thompson and Mattera eventually made their way all the way to the final round. Making it to the finals guaranteed Thompson the point lead entering the final day of the season, and with a win, he would have a commanding 31 point lead. But Frank turned it red to Mattera, and with a win Saturday, Johnny closed to within 9 points of Thompson’s lead.

Going into Sunday, Thompson was on top of leader board, with Johnny close behind. Goldey and McLaughlin sat tied for 3rd, three rounds out of first place. Steve Cross Sr. and Bradley Tippett still had a legitimate shot at the title as well. The shakeup started early with Johnny Mattera losing to Joe Goldey in round 1 and then Bradley Tippett in round 1 re-entry. He was shortly followed by Steve Cross Sr. who lost to the points leader Thompson and then was ousted in 2nd round re-entry by Jason Stern. McLaughlin lost in the first pair out in round 3, leaving only Thompson, Goldey and Tippett to battle it out for the points championship. Then in round 3, Thompson and second place, Goldey matched up. Both racers had their fate squarely in their hands, and Goldey was the one to rise to the challenge. Posting a nice .021 light to get the jump on Thompson on the line, he was able to hold on for the win and pull to within two rounds of the points lead. Bradley Tippett also made it through round 3 to keep his championship hopes alive. Goldey and Tippett got through 4th round, closing the gap even more on Thompson. In round 5, Goldey faced off with Rich Harger. With a round win, he would pull into a tie with Thompson for the points lead. Goldey got a big jump on the starting line and was able to hold on for the win, and pull into a tie with Thompson for the lead. Tippett turned it -.005 to Steve Witherow 5th round, ending his shot at the points championship. After 5th round, only defending Mod ET Champ Joe Goldey, who won the points championship with a deep run at the last race in 2011, was left to take home a second consecutive points championship. In round 6, he matched up with long time Mod ET racer, Tony Mattera. Tony got a big jump on the line with a .018 light and that was enough for him to hang on for the win, ending Goldey’s points run in a tie with Thompson for the lead.

The title came down to the tie breaker. The first round of the tie breaker is the driver with the most wins on the season. That locked it up for Frank, who had won the last Dash qualifying race less than a month ago, just to get into the Dash in the first place. In that final, he beat none other than Joe Goldey. Thompson, a two time track champ in Junior Dragster, came from deep in the pack to win his first Speed Unlimited Mod ET Championship. He had to win a race to qualify for the Dash. He started the three race playoff 16th in points, and climbed his was to the top on the strength of semifinal finish in the first race of the Dash and a runner-up performance in the second race. Then he was able to hold on in the last race to claim his championship by the narrowest margin Dash history, a 0.5 gap on strength of his tie-breaking win over Goldey earlier this year. Joe Goldey followed up his 2011 championship with a runner-up finish in 2012. Bradley Tippett finished third with Johnny Mattera and Brian McLaughlin rounding out the top 5. Congratulations to Frank Thompson Jr. for his first Speed Unlimited Mod ET Championship, and for being the first driver to win championships in two different Speed Unlimited ET Series classes.

In Juniors, the points battle was tight entering the weekend. Christopher Mattera won the first race of the Dash to take over the points lead. Robert Estevez and Brad Keyton were still close enough to make a move with Cory Maloney, Blair Buckler and TJ Estevez within striking distance as well. On Saturday, Blair Buckler went down in 1st round re-entry. Brothers Robert and TJ Estevez went down in round 3. The remaining Dash contestants all went down in round 4. However, Blair Buckler was drawn for the mulligan, and although he couldn’t take over the lead, he could make up some of the ground he lost with his first round exit. He took full advantage of the mulligan and turned it into a race win over Shane Parker. There wasn’t much of a shuffle in the points after Saturday with all the drivers going out about the same time, so Christopher Mattera still maintained his lead heading into the final race of the season. Brad Keyton moved into a tie for second with Robert Estevez, with Cory Maloney in 4th and Blair moving to 6th, only 4 rounds out of the lead.

The excitement started early when Mattera lost first round, along with Robert Estevez. Keyton, Maloney, and Buckler all made it through round 1. In re-entry, Mattera and Robert found themselves paired up. For Robert, it was the perfect opportunity to seize control of the points battle and make his move. But it wasn’t to be for Estevez, as Christopher got the better light and was able to run slightly closer to his dial to pick up the round win, secure his points lead, and eliminate Robert Estevez from contention. Blair Buckler was the only contender to go down in round 2, leaving Mattera, Maloney and Keyton to battle it out. It wouldn’t be settled in round 3, as all three made it safely through to the 4th round. In round 4, all three proved once again why they were the ones running for the championship. Running back to back to back, each racer watched the other turn on their win light and move to round 5. With the rounds running out, Keyton and Maloney need Mattera to go out to even have a chance at getting around him. In round 6, Christopher got past a red-lighting Jacob Bowie, but then Maloney and Keyton faced off. In a very tight race, Maloney picked up the win over Keyton by just .006. With his round win, and Keyton’s loss in round 5, Christopher Mattera clinched his first points championship of his young career. To end the season with a bang, he defeated Maloney in the semifinals and then won his second Dash event of the year over Michael Hankinson. The 2012 Speed Unlimited ET Series Junior Dragster Champion is Christopher Mattera. With his semifinal finish, Cory Maloney jumped into second place ahead of Brad Keyton. Robert Estevez and Blair Buckler round out the top 5 for 2012.

There was plenty of drama to be found in Motorcycle as well. Jimmie Miller started the Dash with the points lead, but Devin McClain took it away after the first race with a race win. So coming into the final weekend, McClain was the points leader followed closely by Jimmie Miller. Jeff Sweeney, Kenny Colbert and defending track champ Shayne Proctor all sat tied for third. In Saturday’s race, McClain made an early exit, losing to Wardell Pinkney in round 2. Jimmie Miller picked up a round in the points when he beat the ever tough Shayne Proctor in the 2nd round. Kenny Colbert also made it to round 3. Jeff Sweeney lost in round 1. With the door open for Miller to make his move, Miller missed a big opportunity in round 3, when he lost a tough double breakout race to Jermaine Proctor, who was slowing moving his way up the points sheet throughout the day. Kenny Colbert fell to Wardell Pinkney in round 3 as well. Wardell Pinkney, completed his role as spoiler by winning Saturday’s race over Mike Thomas. Pinkney got the holeshot and was able to hold on for the win.

Heading into Sunday’s season finale, McClain had just a single point lead over Jimmie Miller. Jermaine Proctor, who lost in the semifinals on Saturday now found himself in 3rd, just 16 points back. Kenny Colbert and Shayne Proctor still had an outside chance if all the racers in front of them made an early exit. The fireworks started right out of the gate in round 1. Devin McClain matched up with Shayne Proctor. Proctor won a very tight race when McClain broke out taking too much stripe. In the very next pair, Jimmie Miller went down to Jeff Sweeney, sending 1st and 2nd in the points to re-entry. Kenny Colbert also lost first round, while Jermaine Proctor picked up a first round win. In the re-entry round, none of the 3 contenders had to face off, and all three survived their “do or die” runs in re-entry. In round 2, Jimmie Miller beat Shayne Proctor to end Proctors run at repeat champion. McClain, Colbert and Jermaine Proctor all won 2nd round, setting up a semi-final matchup featuring the top 4 in points. In the semi’s, Devin McClain used a holeshot to take down Kenny Colbert and move to the finals. In the next pair, Jimmie Miller also used a holeshot to take down his opponent, Jermaine Proctor, setting up a “winner take all” final round. The stage couldn’t have been set any better. A whole season of racing was going to come down the very final run of the season. In the end, both riders made a good run at it, but Jimmie Miller stepped up when it mattered most. He had his best light of the entire weekend, with a .011 to get the jump on McClain’s .060. He was able to hold on the stripe, breaking out less then McClain in a tough double breakout race, winning the round, the race, and the 2012 Speed Unlimited ET Series Championship in Motorcycle. Devin McClain came home second, with Jermaine Proctor, Kenny Colbert and Shayne Proctor rounding out the top 5.

After a long season of racing, the 2012 Speed Unlimited ET Series finally comes to a close. Congratulations to all the 2012 Speed Unlimited ET Series Champions.



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