With high Texas Summer temps, 126 driver entries competed in the first round of the 2018 Countdown to the Championship Playoffs Saturday, August 18th. Some competed to play spoiler and blocker for teammates, while the majority are competing for Championship honors!
The RCDRL wants to thank all that pulled together and went the extra mile to help pull this event off. Special thanks to Paula Shivers in playing a critical role in filling the stat girl seat, Jacquelyn Mares did a great job on the mic, while Tre’ Thacker helped with officiating. As inclement weather moved through the area, many of our members helped secure the track in record time.
In Pro Funny Car, Mike Mercadel secured his second victory and first in the funny car ranks this season. Coming in as the #4 qualifier, M. Mercadel got pass Chad Howard on a holeshot and then went on to put event sponsor Randy Mayhew and Bill Nelson on the trailer before advancing to the finals. On the other side of the ladder, defending Pro Funny Car Champion Joshua Mercadel was making his way through the 10-car field as well in hopes of a playoff glory. J. Mercadel from the #2 qualifying spot defeated rookie driver of the year candidate Zach Shivers in round 1. In round 2 he faced the Summit Racing Equipment and points leader Eric Bowman.
This race was over at the hit of the throttle. Bowman went red and Mercadel ran an event-best 2.141. This win earned him the bye-run in the semi-finals advancing him to face his dad and teammate in the finals. Mike was 0-3 against his son Josh this season and only 2 – 15 overall against the 4-time RCDRL champion. In the finals, Joshua had lane choice and chose the Rudis Motorsports Lane. Joshua got off the line first but had trouble and had to pedal it allowing Mike to drive by and take the win light! (#4 M. Mercadel .080 RT / 2.256 ET def. #2 J. Mercadel .038 RT / 2.334 ET)
“Our program has struggled, it’s no secret we haven’t had the cars we wanted most of the season. However; I have to say thanks to Eric Bowman for turning a few wrenches on our Hotrods. It definitely has made a difference.” said Mike Mercadel who moved to second in Funny Car points.
In Young Gunners, defending Champion Colt Mares held his own by advancing through the field of young talent to the finals. Mares had to get past two members of the Toad Racing team, Colby Taylor in round 1 and Zack Shivers in the semi-finals. On the other side of the ladder, number one qualifier Piper Munson was able to defeat Sarah Shipman in round 1. She was awarded the bye-run in the semifinals to advance to the finals to face Colt Mares. In the finals, Colt cut a brilliant .016 reaction time and ran a 3.077 on a 3 flat dial to take the win over Piper Munson’s .107 reaction time, 2.571 on a 2.50 dial.
Over in Pro Stock, we had 11 entries. Jeremy Miller grabbed the #1 qualifying spot right off the trailer in round 1 qualifying. He went on to earn the bye-run in the first round, got past Robert St Pierre in round number 2 and in the semi-finals. Miller was able to drive around Davey Goff to advance to the finals.
On the other side of the ladder #5 qualifier, Mason Cooley put Manuel Garca on the trailer in round 1 and was able to get past the defending Champion Jerry Shields in round 2. Cooley earned the bye-run in the semi-finals to advance to face Miller in the finals. In the finals, Jeremy Miller was ready, he cut a brilliant .018 light and never looked back. He went on to run a solid 1.680 to take out Mason Cooley DNF. Miller is seeking his first RCDRL Championship and couldn’t ask for a better start to his 2018 playoff hopes! (#1 Jeremy Miller .018 RT / 1.680 ET def. #5 Mason Cooley .078 RT / 64.999 ET)
In Sportsman Funny Car, points leader Eric Bowman extended his points lead by grabbing the #1 qualifying spot and advancing all the way to the finals. He received a bye-run in round 1. Then went on to defeat Matthew Munson in round 2 and his wife Heather Bowman in the semi-finals. On the other side of the ladder, #3 qualifier Bill Nelson got past Colby Taylor in round 1 and drove past Chris Markowski in round 2. He was awarded the bye-run in semi-finals to face Bowman. This final was over at the hit of the throttle when Bill Nelson clicked on the red light -.063 handing the win over to Bowman who ran a solid 2.532 ET.
Over in Street Eliminator, we had 18 entries trying to make the 16-car field. Jeff Schmidt came in as the #6 qualifier. He was able to defeat his teammate Chris Markowski in round 1. Schmitt got past Jeff Chambers in round 2 and was able to take out JD Crow in the semi-finals. On the other side of the ladder, it was the #4 qualifier, Joel Shipman battling his way through the field. Shipman was able to beat Randy Mayhew and Jayme Bates in the early rounds and drove past Colby Taylor in the semi-finals to face Schmidt in the Street Eliminator final. In the finals, Schmidt cut a .038 reaction time and ran a 2.915 on a 2.83 dial to def. #4 Joel Shipman .152 RT / 2.805 on 2.890 dial. (Breakout)
Pro Mod had 12 entries at the Paradise RC Nationals. #1 qualifier Ant Wren had 5 wins during the regular season and showed no sign of letting off the throttle on his competition in the playoffs. Wren cruised through the field getting past Davey Goff and Zack Shivers in the early rounds before getting the bye-run into the finals. On the other side of the ladder it was defending Pro Mod Champion and #8 qualifier Darvione Huddleston taking out #5 Manuel Garca and #2 Duwayne Cooley in the early rounds before getting past #4 Tony Malone in the semi-finals. In the finals, Ant Wren had to drive around a brilliant light cut by Huddleston to win his 6th Pro Mod event of the year and in doing so extended his championship points lead to 74. (#1 Ant Wren .126 RT / 1.429 ET def. #8 Darvione Huddleston .002 RT / 1.562 ET) Marge of victory (MOV .009)
In the 2.50 Index class, Brandon Mares found the winner’s circle by mowing down his side of the 16-car field. His side of the ladder included Thuan Dinh, Mike Mercadel, and Tony Malone before advancing to the finals. On the other side of the ladder, Jeff Schmidt put #14 Norris Graves, #6 Annalisa Poddighe, and #7 Piper Munson on the trailer to earn a final round meeting with Mares. In the finals, B. Mares took out Schmidt. (#8 Brandon Mares .084 RT / 2.50 Dial .087 off ) / 2.587 ET def. #3 Jeff Schmidt .141 RT / 2.50 Dial ( .314 off ) / 2.814 ET
Top Fuel Dragster had 7 cars dueling for a win light. Defending Champion David Mares whose two sons, Brandon and Colt had already won their fair share of classes at the Paradise RC Nationals was trying to do the same. David Mares came in as the #2 qualifier. He outlasted J R Summons Jr. and Mitchal Vaughn to advance to the finals.
On the other side of the ladder, it was #1 qualifier and points leader Robert St. Pierre. The Summit Racing Equipment driver drove his top fuel dragster to the finals by earning the bye-run in round 1. He went on to defeat Brandon Mares in the semi-finals. D. Mares won when St. Pierre crossed the centerline and was disqualified. Neither dragster was able to finish their run and record a time. Robert St. Pierre maintained his points lead in the class despite falling to Mares in the finals. Mares moved up three places to the #2 spot in the Countdown to the Championship and is down by just 41 points going into this weekend’s round two of the playoff’s “Paul Miller Custom Pools RC Nationals”. #2 David Mares .108 RT · 64.999 ET def. #1 Robert St. Pierre DQ .026 RT · 64.999 ET
With already having three wins during the regular season, 2016 Quick 16 Bracket Champion Jeff Schmidt is determined to get his title back in 2018. Coming into round 1 of the playoffs, #8 qualifier Schmidt was able to put Chad Howard and Douglas Crews on the trailer in the early rounds. In the semi-finals, Schmidt outlasted RCDRL first-timer, Eric Hancock to advance to the finals. On the other side of the ladder, #2 Joel Shipman was making his way to a final round showdown with Schmidt. Shipman in the early rounds got past Nacho Thacker and Kelly McCart. In the semi-finals, Shipman was able to outlast defending Quick 16 Champion Chris Markowski. In the finals, #8 Jeff Schmidt .090 RT / 2.05 Dial ( .122 off ) / 2.172 ET def. #2 Joel Shipman .119 RT / 2.79 Dial ( -0.944 off ) / 1.846 ET. Jeff Schmidt jumps to #1 in the playoffs, while Joel Shipman holds on to his #2 spot.
The All Run Bracket class had a season-low of 16 total entries, but that did not stop the fast and furious action of defending All Run Bracket Champion Chris Markowski. In the early rounds, #6 qualifier Markowski defeated Sarah Shipman, JD Crow, and Jeff Schmidt to advance to the finals. On the other side of the ladder, it was #1 qualifier Joel Shipman making his way through the field. Shipman took out David Braswell, Jayme Bates, and Jeff Chambers to advance to the final round. This one was over at the start when Shipman clicked on the red light. Markowski took the win and extended his Countdown to the Championship points lead to 86 points. Shipman jumped up four places to the #2 spot in the Countdown. #6 Chris Markowski .024 RT / 3.80 Dial (.086 off) / 3.886 ET def. #1 Joel Shipman -0.050 RT / 2.79 Dial (.046 off) / 2.836 ET
Congratulations to our 2 JCONCEPTS.NET HOLESHOT award winners, Colby Taylor and JD Crow for both cutting a .008 reaction time lights during first round eliminations to win this award.