Drag Illustrated Issue 177, July / August 2022 - Page 42

Dirt

NEOPMA EMPIRE RECAP
his 3.615 at 206.33 , beating Steding but hurting the engine in the process .
The King / Pilot / Miller team had their work cut out for them as they hustled to make repairs for the final round , but they weren ’ t alone . People from numerous different teams jumped in to help .
“ The G-Force Race Cars guys were over here , Salemi ’ s guys , all my guys , Jeff Miller and Mr . Pilot and everybody ,” King said . “ It looked like an army of guys and we got it together in about an hour . It was still a little hurt there in the final , but we got it running and got up there . A . 64 is pretty good , but you ’ ve gotta give it to Mr . Decker . They outran us .”
A solid qualifying effort and a runner-up finish were exactly what King and team needed to give them a morale boost heading into the second half of the season .
“ We come in with high expectations at every race ,” King said . “ Gene provides us with everything to run up front , and we haven ’ t been doing that . We ’ ve been kind of like a one-hit wonder . We either qualify really well or not qualify at all and we can ’ t make back-to-back runs . Well , this week here , we made six out of seven runs – and very fast runs – so things are looking up .”
Pilot , King ’ s car owner , offered up his appreciation for everyone who helped the team get ready for the final . That group included Jim Salemi of G-Force Race Cars , Jon Salemi of Resolution Racing Services , Paolo Giust , Derek Ward , and Jason White . He also thanked the Decker team for waiting on them to run the final .
“ It ’ s just a great feeling because we would do it to help anybody else , and we ’ ve done it before ,” Pilot said . “ Everybody knows we ’ d help out as much as we can , be it parts , manpower , whatever . It just felt really good tonight having them reciprocate . There had to be 16 guys here helping . And we were surrounded by spectators . It was like the greatest feeling .”
In qualifying , seven of the top eight drivers dipped into the 3.60-second range . Salemi took the No . 1 spot with a 3.645 at 204.36 in Eddie Whelan ’ s roots-blown “ Purple Reign ’ s Side Piece ” ’ 19 Camaro . The other drivers in the 3.60s were Steding ( 3.66 at 208.14 ), King ( 3.661 at 207.37 ), Decker III ( 3.672 at 208.72 ), Decker Jr . ( 3.688 at 198.94 ), Moyer ( 3.694 at 201.25 ), and Tommy Gray ( 3.698 at 205.39 ). DI
PHOTOGRAPHS BY DAVID HILNER
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