Casper Wins 2013 Modified Track Champion at Northeast Dragway
Saturday brought skies and comfortable temperatures; drag racers would say “it’s a perfect day for drag racing”. But Saturday would also include a day full of nerves and anticipation for many racers. It would be the final point’s race of the 2013 season. Track champions in each class would be announced at the end of the night. There were no second chances, no do over’s, or I wish I had. It would be victorious for some and the agony of defeat for others. In some classes there were only a few rounds between the leader and his fellow competitor and some who were far enough back that it would take focus and more determination to make sure that every round was a win. Those drivers could only hope that the leaders would go out early allowing some of those their last chance at the championship. Greg Haynes of Suffolk, Va and the 2012 Modified track Champion was the leader when the day started with only one round ahead of Eric Whitehurst of Edenton. But Haynes fell out of the race when his car broke during the first round of time runs. Haynes could only hope that anyone close would lose during the first round of competition. It was all but a long wait and see situation for Haynes. At the end of 4th round there appeared that the night could possibly end with a run off when there were now five drivers tied for first place. Jesse Casper of Edenton started his day in the sixth position, four rounds behind the leader Haynes. Casper took over the driving for car owner Earl Watson of Gatesville earlier in the year. Casper had not won a race during the season but was able to collect valuable points. “I knew coming into the race today that anything is possible. My goal was to stay focused and to worry about winning one round at a time. Everything from my lights to my dial-ins had to be as perfect as possible. The pressure was on. Bracket racing requires skills and a lot of luck. It only takes one bad round and you’re done. There are a lot of talented drivers at Northeast. You don’t go to the tree and never think that you got any round in the bag. Anyone of the ladies or gentlemen that race here can take you out in a second.” Casper continued to go rounds and was declared the 2013 Modified Track Champion after the 5th round was completed. (The other four drivers would face each other in a run off to determine places 2nd - 5th) Although the championship had been won the race was still not finished. Casper had to refocus and put the celebration and his championship on hold as he prepared for the final round of the night. In the final round Casper faced Oscar Brookin Sr. Both drivers went green but Casper took the win from Brookins after Brookins broke out giving the nights win to Casper. “Two blessings in one night, my first Track Championship and my first event win of the season. I could have never achieved any of this if it wasn’t for the generosity of Earl Watson. He had the car and a lot of faith in me. It just proves that nothing is ever impossible”
Nathan Lilly of Camden, the 2012 TOP Eliminator Champion was only two rounds ahead of Steve Shattuck of Suffolk, Va. Both drivers were put out in their first round of competition allowing the 3rd place diver Kent Sessoms a stab at taking first place. Sessoms would not be successful and Lilley could claim back-to-back Championships.
The Jr Dragster class was a class that everyone had their eyes on. David Light Jr of Wanchese, the 2012 Jr Dragster track Champion had been battling back and forth with Julie Ainsley of Chesapeake, Va most of the season. Ainsley came into the final point’s race with a three round lead over Light. Ainsley was knocked out of first round, while Light continued. Ainsley would have to watch anxiously as Light continued to go rounds. Light was soon to be knocked out but not before earning himself enough points to tie the leader Ainsley. Third place Sierra Eure of Suffolk then had a chance to tie Ainsley and Light while she continued to gain points. When Eure failed to gain enough points, Ainsley and Light would face each other in a run off in order to break the tie. With butterflies and sweaty palms the two young drivers met at the tree, as the lights fell both drivers got a clean start. Light ran dead on his dial but was late on the tree giving the advantage to Ainsley who crossed the finish line first and earned the 2013 Jr Dragster track Championship title. “This has been the most exciting year of my racing career. I have had a lot of wins this season. I won my first Wally at the Jr Dragster Team Final in Maryland this year and I thought that was the best thing that I had ever achieved. But there’s no way that anything could feel more special and more exciting than winning my first track championship. I’m just so excited. It wasn’t an easy job; DW (Light) kept me on my toes week after week.”
Spencer Claycomb wrapped up the 2013 ProBike Track Championship a few weeks earlier. Claycomb was too far up in the points for anyone else to catch him.
Darnell Tillett and Tony Boone ran close throughout the Street Class point’s season. Tillett was only one round ahead of Boone when the finals began. But Boone was able to slip around Tillett one more time to take over the lead and earn him the 2013 Championship.
The points series concluded but there was still racing left in all classes.
Winners for the Saturdays bracket race included: First place in ProBike went to Thomas Reid with a second place going to Delton Dove, Tony Boone finished first beating Elliott Creekmore in the Street Class, Justin Blythe beat Lauren Arledge in the Jr Dragster Division, Jesse Casper of Edenton took first place in the Modified Class and Joel Moreland of Edenton took home back to back wins in the TOP Eliminators Class beating 16 year old Rookie Mason Merritt of Chesapeake, Va.
The point’s series may have ended at Northeast Dragway but there is still a lot of racing and test and tunes scheduled before the season wraps up in November, said track owner Curtis Trueblood.
For more information about the dragway log onto: www.northeastdragway.net