Nick Shepherd Repeats as Sunoco Race Fuels ET Series Pro Champion
Of the thirteen events contested in the 2011 Woodburn Dragstrip Sunoco Race Fuels ET Series in Pro Bracket, three drivers won multiple events. John Maul and Steve Stuart each scored two wins while Tigard, Oregon racer, Nick Shepherd notched three victories in his belt. And when the final points tally was complete, Shepherd, the 2011 Champion, maintained a 30 point advantage over both Stuart and Maul to add to the 2010 Championship he had earned previously.
Maul began the year on top, taking the win over David Chun, Jr. at the first event. Shepherd, however, took the next two victories, showing that he would be a contender to be dealt with. With victories over Bruce Riedl (4/17) and Joe Sorensen (4/23), Nick jumped into the points lead he maintained all season. Karl Hart’s .001 reaction time defeated Cliff Mansfield in the finals on May 1st while Steve Stuart’s 9 second Chevelle took the victory over Robin Andress on May 22nd. As May’s competition came to an end, Shepherd (330 points) held an 80-point advantage over Steve Stuart, Gene Bergstrom, John Maul, and Karl Hart, who each had 250 points.
The three events scheduled for June had the following results: Matt Kielman and his ’70 Nova took the win over David Chun Jr’s dragster on June 5th while weather shortened June 12th’s program. Shepherd was back on top on June 19th as he downed Pat Figini’s Mustang. This victory allowed Shepherd’s lead to increase to 110 points as John Maul was his nearest competitor. However, with only five events remaining, would anyone be able to mount a charge and narrow that gap?
Shepherd must have gone into a slump in July as he was able to only pick up three round wins for the rest of the year. Mike Pliska was the first to take advantage with his victory on July 2nd over Hollis Runge. David Bronec downed Pat Figini on July 10th and John Maul earned his second victory of the season on July 23rd when he met and defeated legendary racer, Robert Rhines. The final points event in July was held in conjunction with the ET Bracket Triple Crown on July 31st where Derrick Jackson defeated Steve Stuart in the non-electronics class. However, because Stuart had bought back in from his second round loss, his points earned at this event was 40 and Shepherd held on to his lead.
At the final event of the series, Shepherd would be a first round spectator and Steve Stuart’s 140 mph blast through the traps would just nip Ryan Schaefer’s ’72 Chevy. In the class in which 152 racers earned points, Nick won 29 rounds of racing. Finishing tied for second were John Maul and Steve Stuart, with Stuart winning the tie-breaker. Gene Bergstrom earned the distinction of finishing fourth while never making a final round appearance, which is a testimony of his steady consistent performance. Rounding out the top 5 was Pat Figini in his ’69 Mustang. Congratulations to Nick for his second consecutive Sunoco Race Fuels ET Series Pro Bracket title. His ’72 Chevy II and his consistent driving skill will be a challenge for all other drivers who choose to compete in this class.