Defending Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Association (NEOPMA) champion Mike Decker Jr. earned his third victory of the season on Sunday night, winning the Yellowbullet Nationals at Cecil County Dragway for the second year in a row. The victory extended Decker’s points lead as the eight-mile Pro Modified club reaches the final race of its 30th anniversary season in late September.
“In this race, every round is like a big win,” said Decker, a former Outlaw 10.5 standout. “To come in and win the race consecutively is incredible. We have been to the final round in all three Yellowbullet races we have been to since moving to Pro Mod. So grateful to my guys and the people who support us to get this done.”
Decker qualified No. 1 at 3,605 at 208.68 to set up a first-round match with Kurt Steding, who came off the starting line first but had to pick up, while Decker went ahead at 3,685 at 206.45. He earned a holeshot victory in the second round, besting Jason Lee’s 3.637 with a 3.646 in 207.94. Decker and his semifinal opponent, Steve King, cut reaction times from .057, but Decker pulled ahead to win 3.633 at 209.17 to King’s 5.205.
Decker, who also won the season opener of NEOPMA at Maryland International Raceway and the Empire Northeast Outlaw Pro Mod Challenge II, lined up with Melanie Salemi in the final round of the $30,000 Church View Farms Pro Mod to win, with Decker taking a head start at the starting line in his bolt-on Decker’s Salvage “Big Change” ’17 Camaro. He made a 3.596-second pass at 209.56 MPH to finish ahead of Salemi and her 3.599 in 206.04, capping off an ultra-competitive weekend.
“I told my father before the race: ‘Look, it’s going to be close. He will be close, but we will do our best. If Melanie beats us, she wins best driver. That’s how she’s going to be,’” Decker said. “Running 3.59 side by side with her, that was a race. In the second round, I saw Jason Lee’s car next to me the whole time. When I ran into Melanie, I didn’t see anything. She was there. She was wild”.
Salemi qualified No. 2 with a 3.611 at 206.83 in Eddie Whelan’s ’19 Slice-and-Ice Camaro. He used a 3.695 at 203.86 to beat Tyler Hard and his 4.076 in the first round. Tuned by her husband Jon and her brother-in-law Jim Salemi, she went up to 3.637 at 204.88 to beat Ken Quartuccio at 3.691. Salemi improved once again in the semis, posting a 3.605 in 205.88 to beat Jim Halsey’s 4.769 and earn lane choice for the final round.
Between the win in the hole in the second round and the advantage on the starting line in the final, Decker felt he found redemption after losses in the last two NEOPMA races.
“In 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]. Before the race, I was making some changes and I said, ‘Sir, I need help.’ These guys work too hard for me to waste these races like this.”
The Yellowbullet Nationals were a big weekend for Pro Mod veteran Todd “King Tut” Tutterow, who helps Mike “Hollywood” Decker III tune up the team’s two Decker’s Salvage Camaros. Driving his own P2 Contracting/FTI Performance Camaro, Tutterow won a special Quick 4 shootout in Friday qualifying and took home more than $10,000 thanks to contributions from numerous teams and sponsors. Decker added another big money win for Wyo Motorsports with his overall Pro Mod win.
“It’s all my boys, my wife [Joy], my father and the Tutterows, who are an extended part of our team,” Decker said. “Todd and I talked last night before we left the track. It’s not about the money, it’s about the bragging rights. But I told him: ‘Think about it, we took all the money.’ Wyo Motorsports kept all the money. Todd won the shootout, then we won the race and got the No. 1 ranking bonus. It was a good deal out there. I thank my guys for standing behind me. They don’t give up.”
The 16-car qualifying field in Pro Mod was separated by just over a tenth of a second, as Decker’s 3.605 was on top and Steding’s 3.71 was in the pothole spot.
“What an exciting weekend of Pro Mod racing,” said John Mazzorana, Founder and President of NEOPMA. “We saw a huge field of fast, fast cars, and I’m proud to say that 18 of them were NEOPMA members or regulars. From our defending champion, Mike Decker Jr., to long-time club supporter, Kurt Steding, the field featured some of the best running backs NEOPMA has to offer. We thank Jim Halsey and everyone involved with Yellowbullet Nationals for including us again this year.”
NEOPMA will celebrate its 30th anniversary season with a special 30-30-30 race at Maryland International Raceway, September 30-October 30. 2. Mazzorana is trying to attract more than 30 cars to help the club celebrate, with the winner walking away with $30,000.
“We are very excited about our 30th anniversary race at MIR in a few weeks,” said Mazzorana. “Our guys always race fast at MIR in the fall, so we should see some big races and more exciting side-by-side races. It will be the perfect way to close what has been a special season.”
For more information on the NEOPMA 30-30-30 race, visit www.NEOutlawProMods.com.