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Steve Witherow, Ed Talbert and Christopher Mattera Crowned Autofab Raider ET Series Champions

Published by Johnny Davis on October 7, 2013

As the 2013 racing season draws to a close, every run and every pair down the track makes a difference. As the racers poured into Budds Creek for the final Autofab Raider ET Series event of the 2013 season, more than just big money was on the line. Not only were racers vying for some of the biggest purses of the year, but championships were going to be settled at the end of the weekend for the Raider ET Series. And for MIR Speed Unlimited ET series regulars who qualified for The Dash, Saturday and Sunday were the first two events of the championship playoff series. With racers packing the lanes in all classes, there was ample opportunity for racers to make big moves in the points.

In Raider Series points, coming into the weekend, Steve Witherow had a four round lead in Top, and Ed Talbert had nearly a 3 round lead in Mod. In Juniors however, Christopher Mattera was holding on to a slim lead, just 2 points, with Jacob Baker and Shane Parker in close pursuit. Although the points battles would be settled on Saturday and Sunday, racing got started Friday night with some hi-roller races in all classes. In Top ET, there were two hi-rollers, a $200 entry race and a $100 entry race. In the $200 race, it came down to Andy Lloyd and Gregg Platter. Platter won the last $200 hi-roller a couple weeks ago and was looking for a repeat performance. But it wasn’t meant to be this time, as he turned it -.003 red, handing the automatic win to Lloyd. For Lloyd, it was a really nice payday to kick off the weekend. In the $100 hi-roller, Brian McLaughlin faced off with Bobby Spence. Spence got the slight holeshot with a .010 light to Brian’s .013, but couldn’t quite run the number, never catching McLaughlin’s Mustang. McLaughlin took the stripe by just .007, and took home a nice payday for his efforts. In the Mod hi-roller, Bradley Doss faced off with Seth Phillips, who entered the weekend 2nd in Mod points behind Talbert. Phillips was looking to kick off the weekend with a win, and had a good shot at it as they left the line. Seth had the advantage with a .028 light to Doss’ .047, but took just a little too much stripe at the end, taking .027 and breaking out just .005. Doss picked up the win, and some quick cash in the 4 round race. The Junior hi-roller came down to two MIR heavy hitters. Christopher Mattera faced off with Robert Estevez for the big bucks. Both racers have won several races this year, and this race was set to be a tough one. Mattera had used a string of consistent lights to make it to the final, with a .017, .020, and .028 through the first 3 rounds. In the final, Mattera was once again right there on the tree with a .018, and picked up the quick win after Estevez turned it red. For Mattera, the cash was nice, but his confidence was high heading into the weekend. The car was running well and he was on his game on the tree.

Racing got started early Saturday morning. In Top ET, there were nearly eight lanes of cars packing the staging lanes. With Steve Witherow having a bit of lead, the racers chasing him needed him to make an early exit to try to catch him in the points. Witherow was knocked out in round 1 by Larry Boswell. On the run, Witherow suffered some engine damage with a broken valve spring. He and his crew rushed to fix it, to make it back for re-entry. The motor couldn’t be repaired in time, so he re-entered with his footbrake entry, with the blessing of race officials since that car had not been down the track in Top ET. Witherow hit tree great with a .010, but broke out more than his opponent Mike Harbaugh, ending his day in round 1, and leaving the door wide open in the points. Daniel Harris was second in points, but went out in 2nd round. Bobby Spence was 3rd in points and more than 8 rounds behind Witherow entering the weekend, but went out in first round re-entry as well. Witherow avoided any big rush, with his closest competitors also suffering tough days. As for Saturday’s Top ET race, 8 cars remained in the quarterfinals. Mulligan winner Severn Johnson won a super tight race over Gregg Platter. Johnson’s .017 package was .002 better than Platter’s .019 package. Rick Harbaugh was .023 taking .003 at the stripe to pick up a tough win over Tom Lakey in a double breakout race. Todd Welzel got a free pass when John Dustin turned it -.012 red. Welzel was going to be tough to beat with his .006 light. Then Ray Holmes took down Wyatt Colbert. Holmes had the starting line advantage, and got to the stripe just .002 in front of Colbert to move on to the semifinals. In the semifinals, Severn knocked the tree over against Harbaugh with a .001. Couple his light with a 4.819 on his 4.80 dial, his .020 package left Harbaugh with no room, after turning in .023 on the tree. In the finals, Severn would meet up with Todd Welzel. Welzel had .010 in his pocket as his .029 light bested Ray Holmes’ .039. At the stripe, Holmes got there first, but broke out handing Welzel the automatic pass to the final. In the final, Severn Johnson kept up with the “double-oh” lights, and sub-.020 packages. For the second time in 3 rounds, Severn was .009 on the tree and this time he ran dead-on with a 6 to put up a .015 package. Welzel was in trouble when they left the line as he missed it a .032. Severn made the most of his mulligan win, picking up the race win. Johnson re-entered the race in 5th round and came with his game face on. From 5th round on, he posted packages of .019, .017, .020, and .015. In fact his worst package of the day came in second round re-entry. He was sent to re-entry when his .020 package was bested by a .006 package. In re-entry his .025 package was beat by a .010 pack. In round 1, he threw down a .009 package to pick up the win. Obviously, Severn was on his game all day, mulligan winner or not, he earned his $5,000 payday.

In Mod ET, the two racers with the best shot at taking the Mod championship in the Raider series both got knocked out in round 3. Ed Talbert got knocked out when Darrell Holmes strapped a .003 light on him. In the very next pair, Seth Phillips lost by just .002 to Brian German. In the quarterfinals, 5 cars remained. Tony Mattera took out mulligan winner, Robert “Hambone” Copsey in a tough double breakout race. Tony had the slight advantage on the tree, and that was enough to drive Copsey more under his dial taking the stripe by just .003. John Dunn Jr. then took down, Dash points leader, Bobby Mattera. Dunn had the better light with a .031 to Bobby’s .057, and at the stripe, Dunn took just .001, forcing Mattera under his dial to overcome the starting line disadvantage. Ed Talbert’s daughter, Nicole, soled her way into the semifinals. In the semifinals, Dunn got pulled for the bye and was guaranteed a spot in the final. That left Talbert and Mattera to faceoff for a spot in the money round. Nicole had the advantage on the tree with a .043 to Mattera’s .060. But at the stripe, things got about as tight as they can. Nicole couldn’t quite run the number, and Tony was able to run dead-on. The difference at the stripe was less than .001, as both drivers posted .064 packages. Tony Mattera got the tight win, to move on and face Dunn in the final. In the final, Dunn came with his A-game. He knocked over the tree with a .001 light to Tony’s .036, and at the stripe he killed what he needed to, running two over his dial to take down Mattera’s dead-on run. Dunn took home $2,000 for his efforts and the big check. Heading into Sunday, not much had changed in Autofab Raider points, with Ed Talbert still clinging to a 29 point lead over Seth Phillips.

Although the Raider points may not have changed much in Top and Mod, the Junior points were shuffled up a bit after Saturday’s race. Christopher Mattera entered the day with just a two point lead over Jacob Baker. Baker lost in round 2, but managed to get through re-entry to keep pace with Mattera. Both were still alive in round 4. Baker got past Brooke Keyton, but Mattera lost a tight race with TJ Estevez to end his day. The loss cut Mattera’s lead to just 8 points. In the quarterfinals, Baker was drawn for the bye with 7 cars remaining, guaranteeing he would take over the lead. Jacob Bowie knocked off TJ Estevez on the strength of a .025, dead-on 6 pass that left TJ out in the cold after his .076 light. Willy Hess Jr. took down Garrett Dove, after Dove turned it -.029 red. And, mulligan winner, Christian Walston threw down a .025 package to take down Dash contender, Ray Snoots who broke out taking the stripe. In the semifinals, Jacob Bowie faced off with new points leader Jacob Baker. Bowie missed the tree with a .091, but got away with it when Baker turned it -.021 red. The red light ended Baker’s chances of extending the points lead. In the final, Bowie would meet up with Christian Walston. Walston and Hess had a great race in the semifinals. Willy had the advantage on the tree with a .007 to Walston’s .014, but Walston was able to run closer to the dial, making up the difference on the starting line; sending the mulligan winner to the finals. In the final, Jacob Bowie left the starting line with a .010 advantage over Walston. Walston couldn’t run the number, only running a 7.976 on his 7.90 dial, and that left Bowie all the room he needed to pick up the big win. For Bowie, he “doubled up” by winning the race and the Hubble Motorsports Pro Purse. As far as the points were concerned, it was beginning to look like a two horse race. Jacob Baker ended the day with an 18 point lead over Christopher Mattera. Shane Parker still had an outside chance, but sat nearly 6 rounds out of the lead with just one race left. The points battles in Top and Mod ended relatively early on Sunday.

In Top ET, with the big car counts, there was an outside possibility of a 9 round race. Even with that possibility, only a handful of drivers had enough points to hope to challenge Witherow for the points championship. Daniel Harris had the best shot, as he came into the day just 3 rounds back, but he was packaged up in round 1 and re-entry when his opponents threw down .019, and .009 packages to end his run. With Witherow making it through round 1, only Michael Shoop and Al Burkett had a mathematical chance of catching him. If Witherow could make it through round 2, he would clinch the championship, as there would not be enough rounds left for anyone to catch him. In round 2, Witherow faced off with Robbie Parlett. Witherow put up a perfect light, to Parlett’s .020, and survived a double breakout race, breaking out just .001 less than Parlett to clinch the championship. Witherow was knocked out in round 3 when Willy Hess Sr. strapped a .000, dead-on 6 run on him to end his day. Hess made it to the quarterfinals, where he faced off with Delante Green. Hess had the better light, .016 to a .038, but at the stripe he took just a little too much, and even though he killed several mph, he still broke out .002 more than Delante, losing a heartbreaker. Mulligan winner, Michael Boswell got past Robbie Parlett. Boswell missed the tree with a .039, but got the automatic win after Parlett turned it big time red, with a -.021. Bobby Spence and Michael Shoop faced off next. This was a big matchup. If Shoop won, he would lock up second place in the Raider points, but if Spence won, and if he could make it to the final, he would take over 2nd. The race was a good one, as Shoop posted a stellar .001 light, but Spence wasn’t far behind with a .006. At the stripe, Spence ran dead-on 6, to hold off Shoop who couldn’t quite run the number. Wesley Washington Jr., in Al Burkett’s dragster, got an automatic pass to the semifinals, when Rich Bernier turned it -.001 to the former MIR track champ. In the semifinals, Boswell and Spence faced off. Boswell found the tree again, with a .005 light to Bobby’s .018, but at the stripe, Boswell didn’t kill enough, as he broke out .005, taking .034, handing the win to Spence who ran .016 over his dial. The win locked up second place in the Raider points for Spence. The next pair matched up the doorcar of Delante Green against the hard charging 4.30’s dragster of Wesley Washington. Washington had a .007 advantage on the tree with his .015 light, but Delante ran .010 closer to his dial, putting him in front by a mere .003 at the stripe, sending him to the finals to face off with Bobby Spence. In the final, Spence dialed up to a 5.13 while Green kept his 5.83. Spence got the holeshot with a .013 light to Delante’s .027, but at the stripe Delante Green prevailed as Spence took .020 and broke out by a heartbreaking .001, handing the automatic win and $5,000 check to Delante. For Spence, it was a good day, as he made a final day jump from 5th to second in the points. Michael Shoop, Daniel Harris and former Raider Top champ, Al Burkett round out the top 5. Steve Witherow repeats as the Autofab Raider ET Series Champion in 2013. This is Steve’s 4th Raider Championship, as he now has 2 in Top and 2 in Mod ET.

In Mod ET, it was much of the same story as Top ET regarding points. Even with an 8 round race, only a couple racers had a shot of knocking Ed Talbert off the top of the points sheet. If Talbert could go a couple rounds, he would lock it up as he carried a 39 point lead into the day. Ed Talbert survived rounds 1 and 2, but so did his closest competition, Seth Phillips. In round 3, Talbert got past Saturday’s winner, John Dunn Jr. when his .029 package bested Dunn’s .038. Then 3 pairs later Seth Phillips turned it -.008 red and essentially ended his shot at picking up his second Raider Mod ET championship. His only hope was for Ed to lose in round 4 and for Seth to win the mulligan and the race. In round 4, Daniel Harris turned it -.007 red to Talbert and locked up the points 2013 Autofab Raider ET Series Points Championship, for the 2009 MIR Mod ET track champ. But Talbert wasn’t done yet. He posted a perfect light in round 5 to take down mulligan winner Johnny Mattera. Then in round 6, he earned a spot in the semifinals when took down defending MIR track champ Frank Thompson Jr on the strength of a .025 light to Thompson’s .054. He would be joined in the semifinals by Cory Maloney, who got past a red-lighting George Windsor, and Jason Kirby who had the 6th round bye. Talbert was drawn for the bye in the semifinals, and that paired up Maloney and Kirby. Kirby was good on the tree with a .021 light, but he didn’t need it, as Maloney turned it -.020 red behind him. In the final, Talbert was looking to make it a clean sweep, and win the race and the championship. But Jason Kirby had other plans. Kirby was .027 on the tree to Talbert’s .052. At the stripe Kirby squeezed up the stripe nicely, taking just .003 knocking off the new champ, and picking up the $2,000 check for his efforts. Ed Talbert was the lone Autofab ET Series Champ to not have a race win in the series to his credit. Consistent deep runs paid dividends as he finished with a 79 point lead over Seth Phillips. George Windsor and Cory Maloney finished 3rd and 4th as Jess Goodman and defending Raider champ Steve Witherow finished tied for 5th.

Unlike Top and Mod, the Junior Dragster points battle wasn’t settled until the very last pass. If Jacob Baker and Christopher Mattera could make it through 2nd round unscathed, it would eliminate everyone else’s chances of making a run at the championship. Both made it through round 1 with no issues, but in round 2, Mattera stumbled. Jacob Baker won his round 2 matchup with Ashley Pumphrey, but 4 pairs later, Mattera missed the tree and went down against Ryan Jackson. In re-entry, he was able to reestablish his chances for a championship by knocking off Tyler Colbert. In round 3, both Baker and Mattera began to step up their game. Baker took down Ray Snoots with a .005 light, taking .012 at stripe, and Christopher was .014 on the tree to win a tight one against MIR heavy hitter TJ Estevez. They didn’t slow down in round 4. Jacob was drawn for the bye, but still threw down an impressive .006 light. Meanwhile, Mattera survived another tight race. He was .016 to Kendal Little’s .020, and at the stripe, he took just .005 to pick up the win and keep pace with Baker. In the quarterfinals, Christopher faced off with his good friend Willy Hess Jr in a good race. Both drivers were just slightly off the mark on the tree, Mattera’s .040 to a .061 for Hess. At the stripe, in a risky move, Mattera dropped hard, killing over 5 mph, feeding the stripe to Hess, who took .022 and broke out .015 getting there first. With Mattera moving on to the semifinals, Baker needed to win to keep up. Facing off with Chad Logan, Baker found himself .007 behind on the tree with a .045 light. At the finish line, Baker made the same move as Mattera, dropping hard, and feeding the stripe to his opponent, and it worked out for Baker as well, sending Jacob to the semifinals. In the semifinals, Mattera and Baker would be joined by Allison Lloyd who took down Maria Estevez, and Jacob Mattera, Christopher’s cousin, who had the quarterfinal bye. As the bye was drawn for the semifinals, it shuffled the pairings, pitting Christopher Mattera against Jacob Baker. The scenario was simple, if Baker wins, the championship is his. If Mattera won, he would also have to win the race to take back the lead. First up however, Allison Lloyd faced off with Jacob Mattera. Allison got a small holeshot with a .051 to Mattera’s .055, and at the stripe, Mattera got there first, but took just a little too much, breaking out .010, ending his day and sending Allison Lloyd to the final. Then, the pressure was on for the two young racers. They were close on the tree, as Baker had a .003 advantage with his .038 light. At the stripe, Baker tried the same move that worked for him so well in the quarterfinals. Baker dropped again, and in a gutsy move, once again fed the stripe to his opponent. This time however, it didn’t work out for him. Christopher Mattera ran dead-on with a 5 to pick up the win, and that put him just one round win away from the championship. In the final, both racers were playing for keeps. Mattera, the slower dialed car left first with a .024 light, and before he passed the tree he knew it was over. Allison Lloyd was red on the tree, by the narrowest of margins, a -.001. For Mattera, this concluded an amazing Autofab Raider ET Series season. Not only did he take home the championship, but Sunday’s win was his 3rd victory in the 8 race series. Jacob Baker finished second, just 3 points back, with Shane Parker in 3rd, Christian Walston in 4th, and Allison Lloyd jumping into 5th on the strength of her runner-up performance. Congratulations to all the winners over the weekend.

Special congratulations to the 2013 Autofab Raider ET Series Champions, Steve Witherow, Ed Talbert and Christopher Mattera.

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