Story courtesy Nate Van Wagen and Phil Hutchison

Images: Dave DeAngelis and Geoff Sculley

The pits were packed with some of the quickest door cars on the planet as the Yellow Bullet Nationals were held over the Labor Day weekend at Cecil County Dragway in Northeast MD.

Defending Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Association (NEOPMA) champion Mike Decker Jr. scored his third win of the season Sunday night, winning the Pro Mod title for the second consecutive year. The win stretched out Decker’s points lead as the eighth-mile Pro Modified club rolls into the final race of its 30th anniversary season in late September.

“At this race, each round is like a big victory,” said Decker, a former Outlaw 10.5 standout. “To come in and win the race back to back, it’s unbelievable. We’ve been to the final round at all three Yellowbullet races that we’ve been to since moving over to Pro Mod. Very grateful to my guys and the people who stand behind us to do this.”

Decker qualified No. 1 with a 3.605 at 208.68 to set up a first-round match with Kurt Steding, who left the starting line first but had to lift, while Decker moved on with a 3.685 at 206.45. He delivered a holeshot win in the second round, beat Jason Lee’s 3.637 with a 3.646 at 207.94. Decker and semifinal opponent Steve King both cut .057 reaction times, but Decker pulled ahead to win with a 3.633 at 209.17 over King’s 5.205.

Decker, who also won the NEOPMA season opener at Maryland International Raceway and the Empire Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Challenge II, lined up with Melanie Salemi in the $30,000-to-win Church View Farms Pro Mod final round, with Decker taking a starting line advantage in his screw-blown Decker’s Salvage “Big Change” ’17 Camaro. He charged on to a 3.596-second pass at 209.56 MPH to finish ahead of Salemi and her 3.599 at 206.04, capping off an ultra-competitive weekend.

“I told my father before we ran, ‘Look, it’s going to be close. It’s going to be close, but we’ll give it our best. If Melanie beats us, then the better driver won. That’s just how it’s going to be.’” Decker said. “To run 3.59 side by side with her, that was a race. In the second round, I saw Jason Lee’s car beside me the whole time. When I raced Melanie, I didn’t see nothing. She was right there. It was wild.”

Salemi qualified No. 2 with a 3.611 at 206.83 in Eddie Whelan’s roots-blown Slice-and-Ice ’19 Camaro. She used a 3.695 at 203.86 to defeat Tyler Hard and his 4.076 in the first round. Tuned by her husband, Jon, and brother-in-law Jim Salemi, she stepped up to a 3.637 at 204.88 to win over Ken Quartuccio’s 3.691. Salemi improved yet again in the semis, posting a 3.605 at 205.88 to beat Jim Halsey’s 4.769 and earn lane choice for the final round.

Between the holeshot win in the second round and the starting line advantage in the final, Decker felt he found redemption after holeshot losses at the last two NEOPMA races.

“The last two races, the driver threw it away,” Decker said. “Not that you should win every race, but I had the car to win the race [at those races]. Coming into the race, I was making some changes and I said, ‘Lord, I need help.’ These guys work too hard for me to throw these races away like this.”

Other winners at Cecil were:

Taking the Pro 275 title was PDRA champ Mo Hall’s ’07 Corvette taking out Shawn Ayers Mustang in the finals with a 3.765 @ 196.93 to Ayers’ 3.819.

Townsend Del. racer Ron Rhodes had the quickest car in X275 but it wasn’t enough as he red lighted the final away in his ’68 Camaro to the ’67 Camaro of Scott Parson from St Thomas Pa.

The Ultra 275 finals was a close one with Churchville N.Y. racer Bill Trovato overcoming a slight holeshot by Bill Fiscus from Batavia OH. Trovato’s Camaro needed a 4.528 to catch and pass the Mustang of Fiscus who lost with a close 4.574.

The 8.50 class had an unbelievable 60 cars vying for a win in an all run field. After the smoke cleared it was the Mustang of Carl Blasé besting Mike Good in the finals 8.556 to a super close 8.557.

Top Sportsman had 56 cars on hand with Bill Janke’s sharp ’13 Camaro taking the win over Doug Farace from Taneytown MD. Janke from Newburg NY dialed his Chevy in with a 4.18 and ran a 4.201 as Farace had a 4.60 on his window and ran a 4.263 in the close loss.

Taking the Warriors “A” title at Cecil was Mike Gerber from Ashburn Va. In his S-10 truck over the Chevy of Jacob Naumann. Jacob had the quicker car but was way late at the green with a RT that started with a “one” which is not a good sign. Gerber ran a slower 4.293 in the win over the quicker 4.274 of Naumann.

Warriors “B” went to Tink Liptrup on a solo pass.

Joe Timinski drove his S-10 Chevy to a 10.0 win over the Chevy Nova of Ron Reiss in a double breakout 9.998 to a 9.996 of Reiss.

Ryan Bamond from Fairlawn N.J. put his ’85 Camaro in the Pro Dial winner’s circle beating the ’69 Nova of Regan Fox from Aston Pa. Bamond dialed in a 9.20 and ran a 9.344 as Fox broke out with a 9.741 on his 9.75 dial.

The Yellow Bullet is never without a mishap or two during the weekend.

For more images from Geoff and Dave, go to our photo gallery: