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Mike Decker Jr. Races to Third Consecutive Yellowbullet Nationals Victory

Mark Tinari photos

Two-time and reigning Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Association (NEOPMA) champion Mike Decker Jr. charged to victory in the $25,000-to-win Churchview Farm Pro Mod class at the Yellowbullet Nationals for the third year in a row Sunday night at Cecil County Dragway. The Maryland native defeated his son, Mike “Hollywood” Decker III, in the final round of the NEOPMA’s seventh of eight points races on the 2023 schedule.

“Any racer goes into the weekend feeling like they have a shot to win, but deep down you realize, you’re not going to win this thing again. It just don’t happen that way,” said Decker Jr., who’s also taken runner-up honors once in Pro Mod and twice in Outlaw 10.5. “So close so many times and just came up short. It’s unbelievable. I knew going in there when we qualified both those cars No. 1 and 2 that we had the perfect storm set up, it was just a matter of how it was gonna go. To win that thing three years in a row, it’s just unbelievable. It gives me cold chills.”

The Deckers in their matching screw-blown Decker’s Salvage Camaros led the way in qualifying, with Decker Jr. and his “Big Change” Camaro qualifying No. 1 with a 3.593-second pass at 211.49 MPH. Decker III’s new “Show Biz” Camaro ended up second with a 3.636 at 203.89, followed by Matt Deitsch Jr. in his nitrous-fed ’69 Camaro with a 3.639 at 206.07. Derek Ward, who won the last two races on the NEOPMA schedule, recorded a 3.640 at 195.08 in his screw-blown ’69 Camaro to qualify fourth. James Beadling’s roots-blown Motorsports Unlimited Camaro rounded out the top five with a 3.641 at 204.88. Eleven of the 16 qualifiers ran in the 3.60s or quicker.

“Uncle Todd [Tutterow] was there on Thursday, flew in from Indy and worked with Mike, then he left and Mike’s on his own,” Decker Jr. said. “Hollywood does the tuning on the cars. I told him I don’t need to go out there and run a fifty. I was good with a .62. The thing goes out there in the heat and runs a .59. It was jaw-dropping. It’s hard to believe. The car was very stout all weekend.”

Decker Jr. started eliminations with a holeshot win over track owner Jim Halsey, who bounced back from issues in qualifying by recording a 3.636 at 206.67 to Decker Jr.’s 3.655 at 191.87. Decker Jr. was on his game again in the second round, cutting a .008 reaction time and running a 3.621 at 208.97 to beat Keith Haney’s 3.817 at 167.07. He and Beadling left the starting line together in the semifinals, but Decker Jr. powered to a 3.636 at 208.20 while Beadling slowed to a 4.858.

On the other side of the ladder, Decker III left first against Steve Wooley in the opening round and laid down a 3.622 at 207.56 to beat Wooley’s 3.994 at 197.97. Second-round opponent Tommy Gray went red by .008 seconds, while Decker III went on to win with a 3.644 at 206.29. He earned lane choice for the final round when he posted a 3.631 at 204.79 unopposed in the semis, as Andy Jensen broke.

For the second time in their relatively new Pro Mod careers, the father-son duo paired up in the final round of a NEOPMA race. The elder Decker was first off the line with a .006 reaction time to his son’s .006 light. Decker III’s “Show Biz” entry was quicker to the 330-foot mark, but Decker Jr. pulled ahead at the eighth-mile finish line to win with a 3.632 at 208.23 over a 3.749 at 169.78.

“I told him I was going to burn him down, play him out, and I was going to leave him,” Decker Jr. said. “Luckily I did leave him, but I don’t know if you can call that leaving. He was .009 and I was .006, so I told him I left him. But I watched the video from MotorMania and by the 330, he had about half a hood on me before that car shut off. I lost a cylinder. That’s why I only ran a .62. His car shut off after it went into high gear. I said I’ve been there many times where I shoulda coulda won it and didn’t, so welcome to my world.”

Decker, who picked up his first win of the season, was quick to spread the praise for his third consecutive Yellowbullet Nationals win.

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“I want to thank the Lord for the win and putting us where we needed to be to get it done,” Decker Jr. said. “I think Him for the good lights because they didn’t come from me. My team, my father, my wife, and Hollywood for tuning the cars. Uncle Todd teaches him, but he has to do it. He has to use the information that he learns, and he does a heck of a job with it.”

Earlier in the weekend, NEOPMA completed the final round from its July race at Cecil County, which couldn’t be completed due to curfew. It came down to Derek Ward, who was seeking his third consecutive win, and past series champion Kevin McCurdy. Both drivers left the line with .007 reaction times, but they ran into trouble down track and slowed from their typical pace. McCurdy in the ProCharged Hard Racing ’68 Camaro won with a 3.933 at 160.21 over Ward’s 4.767 at 140.07 in his screw-blown ’69 Camaro.

Of the 17 Pro Mod entries on the property, 13 of them were NEOPMA racers, including all four semifinalists.

“I’m really proud of the way our racers show up for this race,” said John Mazzorana, founder and president, NEOPMA. “Some of the best Pro Mod racers in the country compete with us, and that was evident this weekend. We’re looking forward to seeing these racers and more at our season finale next month.”

NEOPMA will crown 2023 champions at its 31st anniversary celebration race during Maryland International Raceway’s Supercharger Showdown, October 6-8. The series expects at least 30 Pro Mod teams to join in the celebration of NEOPMA’s 31st season, and the winner will walk away with $31,000. The family-friendly organization has additional exciting festivities planned for the weekend.

For more info about NEOPMA and the Yellowbullet Nationals, visit www.NEOutlawProMods.com or www.CecilCountyDragway.com. Full results sheets can be found at www.GoneDragRacing.com.

This story was originally published on September 6, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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