JACKSON, S.C. -- The final stop on the IHRA Summit Pro-Am Tour for 2007, at Jackson, S.C.'s Carolina Dragway, presented both a challenge and an opportunity for Michael Beard, part of the Duck Tape brand duct tape racing team. One year ago, Beard left Carolina with both a runner-up and a win, helping to push him to a second place finish in the 2006 IHRA Div. 9 Stock points. This year was another do-or-die situation. Reigning World Champion Myron Piatek deposed Anthony Bertozzi from the points lead with a clutch "must-win" at Darlington, forcing Beard to come up with one final round appearance between the two races of the double-header event in order to pass either of the top contenders.
Beard qualified in the top half of the field on Saturday, where a semifinal bye run was available. He survived the first four rounds of competition, including races decided by .007 and .001 seconds, to earn that semifinal bye, and thus clinch the IHRA Division 2 Stock Championship. In the finals, Beard used an .018 reaction time to get the nod in a double-breakout against Rusty Hall's C/SA Mustang.
On Sunday, Beard qualified in a similar position on the ladder. Four more tight races decided by .005, .013, .010, and .008 led to another semifinal bye run, where he carded a .006 light and ran a close 7.237 on a 7.24. Ironically, Beard's final round opponent was Piatek, who he had just relegated to second in the Division. Piatek got the holeshot, .012 to .032, but he spun the tires, leaving Beard to cruise to his second victory in as many days.
"It's unbelievable!" exclaimed Beard. "Carolina Dragway has been very good to me. I hoped that I could pull it off, but anything can happen in any given round. We didn't finish Saturday's race until almost 3 a.m., so I was working on a little more than 24 hours at the time. We got five hours sleep, then got up and did it again. I was tickled to death to clinch the Division Championship, so anything on Sunday was gravy. I wasn't even thinking about national points coming into this weekend. Now I'm less than two rounds out of the lead! I have some work to do, no doubt, but I'm sitting in a better position to win the World than I was to win the Division a week ago!
"As much as drag racing is an individual sport when you're on the track itself, it definitely takes a team's support off the track to help get it done," noted Beard. "I'm so happy to be able to win a Division Championship for Duck Tape, Loctite, Mickey Thompson Tires, and K&N Filters. I hope we can win another World Championship for them, too."
The double victory at Carolina Dragway marked Beard's seventh win of the season out of eleven final round appearances, and his third IHRA Ironman trophy of the season. Beard was the 2003 IHRA Stock World Champion, among a total of 15 career championships on the local, series, divisional, or national level. Beard has notched 128 wins in 190 career final round appearances, since 1990.
Beard's 1980 Plymouth Volare is powered by a Mopar 360 Magnum crate motor, tipping the scales at 3600 pounds to run the J/CM (Crate Motor) class in Stock Eliminator. The engine was build by Sloan Racing Engines, with additional prep by Stephen Beard, Billy Nees Race Cars, and Macy Motorsports. The car utilizes 9x29.5 Mickey Thomspon Radials, as well as oil filters, air filters, and valve cover breathers from K&N Filters.
Beard also thanked Staging Light Graphics, Bradley Auto Parts, Torco Race Fuels, Zapp Trailer Sales, Matt Zapp, and Terry Knott.
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