Shields established himself as an early threat when he drove his Shortline Express A/Fuel dragster to victory at the first event of the season in Bradenton, Fla. The Boulder City, Nevada-based racer posted a premature exit at the second contest in the region, at Gainesville Raceway, but he was back on his game quickly and notched another final-round victory at the points meet in Atlanta with a defeat of Randy Meyer.
Shields stayed sharp and filled the time between the two Atlanta divisional races with a slew of national events, and when he returned to the peach state, he wheeled his rail right to the final round again, this time alongside 2002 Southeast Division champion Marty Thacker. A loss of traction ended Shields' quest for the event title, but his early successes, along with the runner-up at Atlanta Dragway, had him well in the lead for the region's championship, and he ended the season with 298 marks, well ahead of second-place Don Fiorelli.
Shields led the national points early in the season and ultimately finished 8th in the chase for the world championship with wins recorded at the Gatornationals and in Topeka.
Like Shields, Ferro also launched into the series on a high note and posted a win at the division's opener at Bradenton with a money-round triumph over fellow Division 2 hitter Steve Harker, but the following weekend - at the Gainesville points meet - Harker turned the tables and was victorious, relegating Ferro to runner-up and pocketing the win for himself.
One event later, perennial powerhouse Jay Payne made some noise and socked away points for the event title at the first of the two divisional races at Atlanta Dragway, but it was Ferro in the other lane in the final, and those runner-up marks sure didn't hurt. Payne stayed on his game and traveled out of the division, reeling in points for a final-round finish in Dallas and a triumph in Topeka.
The return to Atlanta was prosperous for Ferro, and he tallied another victory when he beat Alexis DeJoria in the final, and at the final race in the Southeast, Ferro knocked out Payne in the closing stanza. Though the division title was already in hand, Ferro traveled west to Las Vegas and Pomona to protect his second-place standing in the nation and in doing so bumped up his division total by claiming victory at the Las Vegas Division 7 meet.
Ferro traded his 404 marks for the gold at season's end, Payne was second with 330 points, and Harker, with 320 points, was third. DeJoria finished a respectable fourth with 203 marks.
His win at the second points meet in Division 2, held at Gainesville Raceway, was favorable for a couple of reasons: he enjoyed a bit of revenge for daughter Jenny's Bradenton loss when he drove his G/ED entry to victory over Martel in the final, and the achievement was good for a swift 95 point award. The solid foundation was set, and Treadwell began to build on it, picking up a couple of round wins in Atlanta before traveling out of the division, where he was runner-up in Tulsa and won Sonoma before exiting early at the event in Bowling Green.
Treadwell, of Sorrento, Fla., headed home and concluded his successful quest for the championship with a final-round performance at the second Atlanta Dragway meet, while Martel went to the semifinals at an out-of-division event in Stanton, Mich., but was unable to tally enough marks to get ahead of the points leader. Treadwell cleared 390 marks at final count, Martel finished second with 304, and Van Puckett - with the aid of a pair of semifinals showings - was third with 250 points. Jenny Treadwell was fourth in the division ahead of fifth place David Rampy.
In the national standings, division champ Treadwell was 127 marks behind series winner Al Ackerman at the conclusion of the season.
Though his Super Comp achievements waned on the divisional level after the first part of the season, Miller continued to score round wins in his family owned and built Miller Race Cars Top Dragster entry. Following Atlanta, Miller traveled to Division 3, where he was runner-up at the Chicago points meet to the North Central Division's James Monroe.
Buoyed by success in Bowling Green, Dylan Stott was still in it to win it, and Lauren Freer came through with a win at the second Atlanta Dragway event, but Miller stood above the rest when it was all said and done, bringing in a total of 336 marks for his first place finish. Stott, second in the region, logged 281, Freer was third with 270, Steve Cohen, on the wings of a pair of runner-ups, rang up 262 marks for fourth place, and defending Southeast champion Steven Furr logged a final-round finish at the first Atlanta event to round out the top 5 in the division with 260 points.
Whereas Vaughn produced nil in Bradenton and Gainesville, Davis surged into the racing season with back-to-back trips to the semifinals. But in Atlanta, Vaughn scored the win and then scored again at the out-of-division event at Bowling Green, quickly accumulating precious points. Fortunately for Davis, the rest of the year wasn't as kind to Vaughn, and Davis swept in a couple more round wins and then finished strong at Silver Dollar Raceway in Reynolds, defeating Vince Hoda.
Ultimate victor four times in the past five seasons in Division 2, defending titlist Jerry Barker raced to the final round at the division's Bradenton opener but never again matched his first presentation of the year. Barker was fourth as the season wound to a close. Jeff Pittman steadily accumulated marks and began the season with a couple of round wins over the course of two events and then was runner-up in Atlanta and went on to finish in the semifinals at Bowling Green and runner-up again at Atlanta Dragway before pulling in a couple more round wins at Silver Dollar Raceway. Pittman nabbed third place with 284 points, just 20 marks back from second-place Vaughn.
Look for the second round of coverage from the Southeast Division's championship title runs soon.
Division Two Top Alcohol Dragster Top Ten Point Standings Pos Driver Points Events 1 Duane Shields 298 8 2 Don Fiorelli 95 4 3 Robin Samsel 84 4 4 Arthur Allen 64 2 4 Cherissa Griffis-Smallwood 64 2 6 Dan Lucas 32 1 Division Two Top Alcohol Funny Car Top Ten Point Standings Pos Driver Points Events 1 Mickey Ferro 404 6 2 Jay Payne 330 7 3 Steve Harker 320 6 4 Alexis De Joria 203 5 5 Mark Billington 161 4 6 Melinda Green-King 117 4 7 John Sullivan 96 3 8 Bill Naves 32 1 Division Two Competition Eliminator Top Ten Point Standings Pos Driver Points Events 1 Glen Treadwell 390 8 2 Arnie Martel 304 7 3 Van Puckett 250 5 4 Jenny Treadwell 228 6 5 David Rampy 197 5 6 Pat Williams 173 5 6 Jim Kimbrough 173 5 8 Lonnie Johnson 161 5 9 Michael Hardee 153 4 10 Grant Lewis 145 3 Division Two Top Dragster Top Ten Point Standings Pos Driver Points Events 1 Raymond Miller III 336 8 2 Dylan Stott 281 7 3 Lauren Freer 270 5 4 Steve Cohen 262 5 5 Steve Furr 260 7 5 Angela Travis 260 8 7 Casey Spradlin 238 5 8 Wayne Hofmann 187 6 9 Anthony Montella 185 7 10 Chad Hedgecock 175 4 Division Two Top Sportsman Top Ten Point Standings Pos Driver Points Events 1 Ronnie Davis 305 8 2 Billy Vaughn III 304 8 3 Jeff Pittman 284 8 4 Jerry Barker 251 5 5 Anthony Montella 250 7 6 Bruce Duncan 217 7 7 Matthew Buck 187 4 8 Jeffrey Rudisill 177 4 9 Jeffrey Barker 174 6 9 John Glenn 174 5