ROCKINGHAM — Michael Paschal beat himself Sunday, but without the penalty one normally might expect.
Taking advantage of the event’s double-entry option, the Pleasant Garden native was both winner and runner-up on the final day of the Triple Fives Championship at Rockingham Dragway. And for his perfection, he took home both the $5,000 top prize and the $1,500 runner-up money.
Other $5,000 winners were Dan Birt (Barnwell, S.C.) and Chris Dean (Sanford), who directed their vehicles to the winners’ circle on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, respectively. Paschal was the only dragster to grab a victory, as the first two days of racing belonged to the full-body Camaros of Birt and Dean.
“That doesn’t happen very often,” Rockingham track owner Steve Earwood said of Paschal’s feat. “Especially not when the field is as good as this one was.”
Paschal waded through eight rounds of racing in order to find himself paired in the final round with, well, himself.
He beat 18-year-old sensation Ross Freeman (Westville, S.C.) in one semifinal and then dispatched third-generation racer Chris Ferguson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) — son of former IHRA World Champion Glenn Ferguson — in the other.
Although Freeman — a high school student — didn’t reach the finals on either of the three days, he went to the semifinals two times during the weekend, winning seven rounds on Friday and seven more on Sunday in his Footbrake Nova.
The event ran separate Footbrake and Top Eliminator brackets until the late rounds when the two ran together. It also determined The Rock’s 2017 track championship in the Jr. Dragster category.
Kimberly Messer (Four Oaks) and Kaylee Creech (Clayton) tied for the title and, as a result, will reign as co-champions.
Results from the Triple Fives big money bracket race at Rockingham Dragway:
SUNDAY FINAL – Michael Paschal #2 conceded to Michael Paschal #1 (no time).
SATURDAY FINAL – Chris Dean (.028, 5.514 on a 5.510, 124.58 mph) def. Quinton Jones Jr. (.013, 4.519 breakout on a 4.530, 152.64 mph).
FRIDAY FINAL – Dan Birt (.005, 6.697 on a 6.690, 101.00 mph) def. Nick Womack (.020, 4.630 on a 4.540, 149.13 mph).