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   MIR e-News Headline

Wesley Washington Jr., Jake Milstead and Tommy Cable All Pick Up Ironmen at IHRA World Finals


October 19, 2012


Press Release courtesy of:  Robbie Parlett


The IHRA World Finals took place this past weekend, October 12-14 at Memphis International Raceway in Millington, TN. Racers from as far away as Texas, Arizona, California, Canada, New York, Florida, and even Alaska, made the trip to Memphis for their shot at a world championship. Four regular racers from Maryland Int’l Raceway made the 15 hour trek to Memphis to take their shot at bringing home a world championship. Wesley Washington Jr. qualified for the Tournament of Champions (TOC) runoff in Top Dragster by virtue of his top 3 finish in IHRA Division 1 points. Jeff Gardiner qualified for the TOC in Stock by finishing 3rd in Division 1 points. Jake Milstead won the Summit Sportsman Spectacular held at his home track of MIR in July, qualifying him for the TOC in the 8.90 index class of Quick Rod. Tommy Cable was not yet in the TOC, but had a good shot at making it. Cable had made it to the finals of Top Dragster at the Sportsman Spectacular at MIR in July but was rained out before they could run the final. The final round run against perennial heavy hitter, Steve Furr, was rescheduled to be run at the Budds Creek Pro-Am, but weather once again spoiled the race, forcing the final to be run at Memphis during the World Finals.


Finally, decent weather prevailed in Memphis, so Furr and Cable could finally finish the race they started nearly 3 months earlier. The win would give Cable a much coveted spot in the TOC. After 3 months of waiting, the race was over before it really began, when Furr turned it red, handing the automatic win and IHRA Ironman to Waldorf native, Tommy Cable. With the win, MIR had 4 regular points racers in the very prestigious TOC.

Before the TOC got started, the IHRA had scheduled one last Sportsman Spectacular to be held at Memphis to give drivers from all over the country one last shot at qualifying for the TOC. The Sportsman Spectacular has great purses and was open to all in attendance, so even though the 4 MIR racers were already qualified, they all entered the race to try to win some extra cash. Jeff Gardiner made a nice run in Sportsman Spectacular before losing the very tough North Carolina runner, Brandon Peterson in round 3 of Stock. Wesley Washington’s Sportsman Spectacular ended earlier than he hoped as he was knocked out in round 1 re-entry by Michael Pennington who hails from Texas.


Tommy Cable, who was driving cars out of Anthony Bertozzi’s fleet, was trying to make it into a second TOC field. If he could win Quick Rod at the Sportsman Spectacular, he would find himself in two TOC fields after his Sportsman Spectacular win over Steve Furr. Tommy was also racing in Top Dragster, trying to block another racer from making the small field. Tommy beat Chad Traylor, a Virginia racer, and a regular at MIR big money races in the second round of Top Dragster. Tommy eventually fell in the quarterfinals to PA racer, Mia Tedesco. But in Quick Rod, Tommy was making his way through the rounds, trying to earn that last spot in the TOC for Quick Rod. Also running in Quick Rod was Jake Milstead. Milstead turned it red first round to very tough Tennessee racer, Jason Lynch. But he was able to make it through re-entry to keep his Ironman hopes alive. Both Cable and Milstead won second round.

Cable got the bye in round 3 on the strength of his .004 light in round 2. However for Milstead, round 3 wasn’t so easy. As he tried to start the car to go to the staging lanes, the starter broke. With only a couple minutes to make the call for the round, Milstead and crew were just barely able to get a new starter on the car in time to meet his round 3 opponent. His opponent, Rick Stroud, from Canada, was about to roll into the waterbox when Milstead pulled up beside him. Even with the mad dash to make it to the line, Milstead was ready, and was .001 on the tree to Stroud’s .003. Both drivers were on breakout runs, and Milstead was able to survive the double breakout race by just .002. In round 4, Milstead knocked off Arizona racer, Chuck Hawk, and Tommy Cable beat Texas racer Dale Scates. The way the ladder shook out, Cable and Milstead would matchup in the semifinals. In the hometown clash, Cable was set up tight as he had a lot more than money riding on the round. With the win, he would be one round away from a second TOC berth. But it turned out Cable was set up a just barely too tight on the tree and turned it -.001 red, sending Milstead to the money round where he would face off with Texas racer Shannon Brinkley. Brinkley had already earned himself a spot in the TOC in Super Rod, but would earn a Quick Rod spot as well, if he could get the win over Milstead. For Milstead, there was a lot pride and money on the line. Brinkley got the advantage on the tree with his .008 light, but Milstead dropped hard at the stripe killing 8 mph and feeding the finish line to Brinkley who broke out taking the stripe by .045. With Brinkley’s breakout, Milstead got his second win in as many races in Quick Rod this year. The Sportsman Spectacular Ironman and $5,000 payday were a nice start to the weekend, but all the local MIR racers were looking to make a bigger splash in the TOC World Championship Runoff.

The Tournament of Champions was scheduled to be run on Sunday, but with severe weather forecast for Sunday, IHRA officials decided the TOC would run in its entirety on Saturday. The TOC was literally a meeting of the best IHRA sportsman racers from all over the country. The depth of talent in the pits was astounding. There were well over 30 former champions in the pits, and nearly every other car that staged up had a single digit competition number, indicating a top 10 finish in the world in 2011. With world championships on the line in each class, and no safety blanket of re-entry available, it was time for everyone to step up or step out.

As for the MIR racers, Tommy Cable had a rough TOC showing. Paired up with former world champ Gary Bingham of North Carolina in round 1 of Top Dragster, Tommy missed the tree with a .044 light, and that was all Bingham needed to take the round win and end Cable’s TOC adventure. Wesley Washington picked up a round 1 victory over Claude DeBonis from Florida in a tight race that saw both drivers “double oh” on the tree. Jeff Gardiner picked up a win over a red-lighting Missy Phillips from North Carolina. Jake Milstead also made it through first round when he beat John Biermann from Florida. Jake had the better light and ran an 8.901 on the 8.90 index to move to round 2.


In round 2 of the TOC, two more MIR racers went down with tough losses. Jeff Gardiner got the holeshot on his opponent Jacob Pitt, from Texas. Pitt, who won the Sportsman Spectacular in Stock, earlier in the day, got a huge break when Gardiner broke a rocker arm in the motor just as he went into high gear. With the motor hurt, Gardiner had no choice but to lift, giving Pitt the easy round win. In Quick Rod, Jake Milstead found himself paired up against Division 1 points champ Ed McCleaft from PA. Jake got the slight jump at the tree with a .010 light to McCleaft’s .015. Jake then dropped to go dead on at the stripe, but the car had slowed down in the more humid air, giving McCleaft enough room to get back in front and take the win running an 8.904 on the 8.90 index, to Milstead’s slowing 8.914. Even with their losses, both Gardiner and Milstead can boast top 10 finishes in the world in their respective classes, with both drivers finishing 7th. With all the other MIR drivers out of competition, it fell on Wesley Washington to keep the MIR hopes of a World Champ alive. In round two, Wesley posted another “double oh” light to defeat Jeremy West of Florida who broke out big time taking way too much stripe.

In the quarterfinals, Wesley found himself paired up against former world champ Brett Nesbitt of North Carolina. Wesley was once again on top of the tree, this time posting a .003 light to get the jump on the starting line. The advantage on the tree was enough to hold off Nesbitt’s dead-on run, and Wesley moved to the semifinals. In the semi’s, he faced off with Canadian Jamie Tupper. In a very tight race, Wesley got the jump at the tree again, and was able to hold on for the win by just .0016 at the stripe. With the win, Wesley moved to the finals where he would face off with one of the toughest racers in the country, Greg Slack from North Carolina. Slack knocked off Virginia racer Chad Traylor in the semifinals. The pressure couldn’t be higher. A world championship was on the line with one run to win it. For Wesley it couldn’t have been better. Slack, the slower car, left the starting line first with a big red light bulb lit, handing Wesley the automatic win, and his first World Championship. The two time track champ at MIR had just taken down some of the toughest racers in the country on his way to biggest Ironman of them all, an IHRA World Championship Ironman.

Congratulations to Wesley on his Top Dragster World Championship and to Jake Milstead for his second Sportsman Spectacular Ironman of the year and a top 10 finish in Quick Rod. Also congratulations to Tommy Cable for picking up an Ironman in Top Dragster. Congratulations to Jeff Gardiner for his very admirable showing in Stock and his top 10 finish. Congratulations to all four racers for proving once again, how tough the competition is here at home, at Maryland Int’l Raceway.



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