Several hundred racers from all over the east coast showed up in Maryland International Raceway for the President’s Cup Nationals Fueled by Sunoco and an IHRA Pro-Am event on Sunday. After a very soggy start to the 2016 racing season, the IHRA national event had nearly perfect weather. With the exception of a Friday morning shower or two which resulted in the cancelation of a Test and Tune event, the entire weekend schedule was easily kept with racers racing under clear skies. The IHRA professional classes were all part of the President’s Cup Nationals, but it was the sportsman classes where the local racers had a place to show off their skills. With 11 sportsman classes competing in each of two races over the course of the weekend, 22 Ironman trophies were up for grabs. Local racers found themselves in 14 of the 22 finals, taking home eight of the prestigious Ironman trophies.
The most impressive local performance came from Hughesville, Maryland racer Jason Parker. After struggling through qualifying with mechanical gremlins, the young racer worked through his issues Saturday in his 07 Racetech dragster. Surviving a double breakout race in round one, Parker went .006 on the tree to take down Jack Trussell in round two. The .006 light earned him the round three bye, moving him on the semifinals where he matched up with Tyler Mosley from South Carolina. Mosely turned it -.003 red advancing Jason to the final where he would match up with another SC racer, Shelby Miles who had soloed through the semifinals on the bye run. Parker used a .018 light to take a .003 advantage at the tree. Parker then ran dead-on his dial, running 7.385 on the 7.38 dial killing over 5 mph to pick up the Ironman for Top Dragster on Saturday.
Parker returned to the track Sunday morning looking for more good fortune, but things looked bleak when he broke a ring and pinion during his one and only qualifying pass. With no chance to repair the problem, his good friend Brent Martin offered to step out of his Quick Rod dragster in an effort to allow Jason to keep accumulating points in Top Dragster. Parker now faced a monumental task heading into first round. He was driving a friend’s car that he had never piloted before, and this car had yet to make a full throttle pass over the entire weekend as Brent had been 8.90 index racing it. With the best guesses regarding delay box settings and dial-in’s made, Parker pulled to the line first round against Joseph Bagwell out of North Carolina. Parker got a huge break when Bagwell went red, and Parker was able to leg it out, running a 7.32 on his 7.38 dial. Parker then moved on to the semifinals when Tyler Mosely rolled the stage beams in round two. In the semifinals, Parker lined up with Chad Traylor out of Virgina. Parker was .011 to Traylor’s .018 and at the stripe, Parker dropped hard against the hard charging 7.0 dragster. The moved worked, and Traylor broke out taking the stripe, and Parker moved on the final where he would find himself in a rematch from Saturday with Shelby Miles. Again, Parker got the advantage on the tree by .007, and at the stripe was able to kill over 8 mph to take the stripe and run a 7.340 on a 7.32 and pick up his second Ironman of the weekend. While few, if any of his qualifying passes went as expected or hoped, Jason Parker was able to get things together for eliminations and pull out two Ironman wins in an unexpected fashion.
Jason Parker wasn’t the only local racer to double up over the course of the weekend either. Junior Dragster racers were on hand to race in three separate categories, broken down based on age groups. In the Advanced Category of JD, Mechanicsville, Maryland racer Bristen Mister worked his way to two finals, taking home two Ironman trophies for his efforts. On Saturday, Mister worked his way past racers from Maryland, and New York on his way to the final where he faced off with South Carolina racer, Logan Westmoreland. Mister got the free pass in the finals when Westmoreland turned it red on the tree. Mister made a nice run, as he cruised his way to the winner’s circle. Then on Sunday, Bristen had a rematch with Logan in first round. It was a great race. Mister was .022 on the tree to Westmoreland’s .028. At the stripe, Mister was able to run closer to his dial to pick up the win and move to round two, where he had earned the bye with his .022 light. From there he moved to the semifinals where he faced off with MDIR regular, Ashley Pumphrey. Ashley went red, but Bristen was going to be tough to beat with his .035 dead on 5 pass. In the finals, Mister faced off with Tennessee racer Seth Brooks. Mister, who had been good on the tree all day, saved his best for last. He strapped a .004 light on Brooks who missed the tree. At the finish line, Mister ran .019 over his 8.92 dial for a great .023 package and his second Iron Man of the weekend.
In Quick Rod, local racer Jerron Settles borrowed a car from friend Jerry Langley and drove his way to a near double up. Jerron, who used to race weekly, entered his first race in nearly a year on Saturday and took no time at all knocking the rust off. Settles took down two New York racers in rounds one and two using a .011 light and .004 light respectively. In the semifinals, he met up with Rockville, Maryland racer, and former world champ, John Dustin. Jerron was .008 on the tree, and survived a double breakout where both racers broke out just .001 to move on to the finals. In the finals, he would match up with Kevin Roof. Roof, who lives roughly three miles from MDIR, had taken down North Carolina racer Mitchell Harkey, when Harkey went red. In the final, it was a race between friends. In fact, Settles’ car owner, Jerry Langley, was setting the throttle stop for both cars all weekend. In the final, Settles got a small advantage over Roof, and was able to hold on for the win when Roof was unable to run the 8.90 index. For a racer who only races a handful of races a year, a trip to the winner’s circle for an Ironman was a great way to return to the track. On Sunday, Settles was back trying to earn some more Quick Rod points. In rounds one and two, Jerron was identically .010 on the tree both runs to move to the semifinals. There he used a .036 light to gain a big advantage on the tree over William Pitz from New York. Settles was able to hold on for the win to move to his second consecutive final round. The other semi matchup was a rematch from Saturday. Kevin Roof faced off with Mitchell Harkey. They were great on the tree with Harkey edging Roof with a .004 to Roof’s .005. At the stripe, Roof got there first by just .014, but Harkey picked up the double breakout win, running an 8.899. In the final, Harkey once again nailed the tree with another .004. Settles was close behind with a .008. At the stripe, Jerron was able to drive around Harkey, taking just .003, but he was unable to kill the ET he was holding, and fell in a tough double breakout to Harkey, handing the win to the North Carolina racer. All in all, Jerron Settles made a triumphant return to the driver’s seat.
Another local racer completed a different type of double up. Dale Koncen from Chaptico, Maryland raced in both Hot Rod and Super Rod over the weekend. After not having much luck on Saturday, Dale found some success on Sunday in both classes. In Super Rod, the 9.90 index class, Dale had worked through the first couple rounds, finding himself paired with Saturday Super Rod winner, Craig Porter. Dale grabbed the advantage on the tree with his .023 light and at the stripe he ran 9.909 to pick up the win and move to the final. There he would face off with reigning World Champ Doug Lynden. Lynden got the advantage with a .009 light to Koncen’s miss of .032. But at the stripe, Koncen realized he wasn’t catching Lynden and dropped feeding him the stripe by .016. Lynden was indeed going to quick, breaking out with a 9.853 to Koncen’s closer 9.890, handing Dale the Ironman. In Hot Rod, things were rolling right along as well. He had worked his way to the semifinals where he met up with another local racer, Robbie Welch. Dale had the advantage on the tree with a .007 light to Welch’s .022. At the stripe, both racers slowed to a 10.95 on the 10.90 index, with Koncen’s starting line advantage giving him the round win. In the final, Koncen was looking to double up as he faced off with former World Champ, Daryl Griffin from North Carolina. Unfortunately, Koncen had issues on the starting line, leaving nearly before the tree was activated, ending his chance at a double up and handing the win to Griffin.
Several other local racers had great weekends at the President’s Cup Nationals. In Junior Dragster Beginners, the Saturday final featured two locals. Kaiden Groves from Mechanicsville took down LaPlata’s Sarah Culver. Culver turned it red, handing the Ironman to Kaiden. Then on Sunday, Mechanicsville, Maryland’s Zach Parlett was able to win an Ironman of his own when he picked up the Beginners win over North Carolina’s Cale Pittman when Pittman turned it -.001 red. Also, in the No Throttle Stop 11.50 index class, locals had success both Saturday and Sunday. Keith Simpkins from Hughesville, took home runner up honors in his ’71 Camaro. Then on Sunday, again two locals made it to the final in 11.50. Doug Wynkoop, a MDIR regular, and Chris Wilkinson from Mechanicsville squared off. Wynkoop got a small advantage with a .013 to Wilkinson’s .020. At the stripe, Wilkinson was pacing Wynkoop when Doug dropped killing nearly 7 mph slowing to an 11.512 while Wilkinson broke out taking the stripe, handing the win and Ironman to Wynkoop. On Saturday, MDIR regular Brian McLaughlin took his Mustang to finals of Hot Rod where he came up just short, taking home runner up against Todd Stowe from NC. Finally, MDIR regular David Cox took runner up honors in Top Sportsman on Sunday. Cox had a small advantage on the tree with a .021 light to Clayton Roberts’ .027. But Cox had traction issues, handing the win to the North Carolina racer, Roberts.
When all the dust had settled, the local racers had a great weekend defending their home turf. With some of the toughest racers in the region on hand, the locals turned on more than their fair share of win lights. Congratulations to all the winner.
Story Courtsey of: Robert Parlett II