GAINESVILLE, Fla. --
"To be honest, I didn't think about the magnitude of the situation coming into Sunday's eliminations. I didn't even know that no female driver had ever doubled, and to be honest the thought that I could be the first to do so had never even crossed my mind." expressed Tedesco, who took Super Gas runner-up honors at last fall's JEGS Sportsnationals but had not advanced late into the rounds at a NHRA Mello Yello series event until last weekend. "Coming into the weekend, my goal was just to make it into the Sunday rounds, because I'd never accomplished that feat at a full-fledged national event. Being able to do that in both cars not only met my goals but exceeded my expectations."
In Super Comp, Tedesco wheeled her team's new American Race Cars-built, C.A.R.S. Protection Plus backed dragster to a final round appearance alongside Greg Kamplain. To do so, she opened eliminations with victories over recent national event winners Lauren Freer and Scott Lamar, then went on to defeat Eli Prizament, Gary Byrd, and Bob Wheeler to earn a semi-final bye run.
In the final stanza, Tedesco trailed off the starting line with an admittedly late .055 reaction time to Kamplain's solid .016. Despite running dead-on the 8.90 index, Mia was unable to overcome that starting line deficit, as Kamplain claimed the victory with an 8.919 elapsed time.
"I don't think there's such a thing as a 'good time' to break a motor," quipped Tedesco, "But I suppose having the bye that round was a huge break. Thanks to Jason, 'Krusty' and Brad, we got the engine swap done quickly, but then we had to dial the new combination for the next round. We had run that engine in the car before, so it's not like we were completely lost, but seeing as the motor hadn't been run in 6 months I'll admit I wasn't too sure about it!"
In that quarterfinal round, Tedesco was paired with defending event champion and former NHRA World Champion, Jim Perry. In that matchup, Mia was able to overcome both the obstacle of a new engine and her worst reaction time of eliminations (.063) to best Perry in a double-breakout affair, 9.858 to 9.853.
Tedesco credited her teammate, Jason Lynch for his mechanical expertise and racing advice. Lynch, a two-time IHRA World Champion and renowned bracket racer in his own right, is the team manager and oversees tune-up and setup on each of the C.A.R.S. Protection Plus team vehicles. In addition, he has served as a mentor and driving coach for young Mia as she's worked her way through the sportsman ranks.
"Jason and I sat down Sunday morning and he went over the possible scenarios with me. That motor is slower than the one we started the weekend with, so he's telling me to take all of this time out of the throttle stop timer, and I'm just thinking, 'Oh my gosh.' Then in the round itself I was late, but that probably ended up being a good thing. That was one of the scenario's we talked about: I knew I missed the tree and I couldn't catch him, so I tapped the brakes and let him go. Thankfully it worked out!"
That set up a semi-final tilt with versatile touring professional Brad Plourd, who was vying for his first Super Gas victory after having secured multiple national event titles in Super Comp, Super Stock, and Stock Eliminator. Plourd took a slight edge at the starting line, .024 to .033, but encountered traction issues downtrack, allowing Tedesco to cruise to a 10.01 victory.
Mia returned to the staging lanes to meet a familiar foe in the Super Gas final, her own boyfriend, Troy Coughlin, Jr. The couple, each of whom are two of the most successful young racers in the sport, are no strangers to on-track competition. Tedesco got the better of Coughlin en route to her runner-up finish in Columbus, and again in a final-round matchup at last season's prestigious PBIR 5-Day bracket event. In this contest, however, TJ got the nod thanks to a deciding starting line advantage, .018 to .069. He held on for the victory with a 9.930 to Tedesco's breakout 9.884.
"TJ and I had been joking all weekend about how we'd see each other in the final of Super Gas," laughed Tedesco. "I never really believed that could happen; especially when we both had such disastrous weekends leading up to that point (Tedesco had the engine failure, and Coughlin crashed his Super Comp dragster in a scary finish-line accident Saturday morning). And yet, there we were. It was really neat to get to run one another in the final, something I'll never forget." "As much as I wanted to win the final round, I wanted for TJ to win just the same," Tedesco expressed. "Especially after crashing his dragster, he needed that win. It was great to see him overcome adversity and end the weekend on such a positive note. And besides," she laughed, "If we're keeping score, I'm still up 2-1."
The C.A.R.S. Protection Plus/Tedesco Racing Team plans to pursue an aggressive schedule of NHRA Lucas Oil events in addition to several big dollar bracket races in March and April. While the team has no immediate plans to abandon the sportsman ranks, they do have a constant eye on future growth potential. With that in mind, both Tedesco and Lynch plan to license in blown Top Alchohol Dragsters at Frank Hawley's school of drag racing in the coming months.
Tedesco first thanked God, her family and everyone at Tedesco Racing for the continued opportunity to chase her dreams and prove her mettle against the best competitors in sportsman drag racing. She wished to recognize her team members Lynch, Oteri, and Demitras for their efforts and thanked her immediate and extended family, many of whom were in attendance for the exciting weekend in Florida. Mia also thanked her friend Chris, a member of the Lynch Family's church, for accompanying them to Gainesville and sharing the weekend with the team.
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