The Million Dollar Race at Montgomery Raceway Park is one of the highest-paying and most prestigious of bracket races, and if you can just go rounds, let alone win, you’ve proven yourself as a driver. Florida native Dave Triplett picked up his second Million win after chopping his way through a difficult field of racers behind the wheel of his 1972 Vega.
Triplett understands what it takes to make the later rounds of the Million — he won the race in 2008 behind the wheel of his dragster and was runner up in 2013 driving the Vega. Having so much time in his Vega has helped Triplett win many races over the years, and he also has a sentimental attachment to the car.
“Racing this car for so long has really made it an extension of me, so I know what it will do and how it will react. It’s my race car of choice; my dad has owned it since 1982 and I always wanted it. When they separated the door cars from the dragsters it made my decision that much easier to go this route with my car. There’s a little more room on the door car side of things to get deep into the race before a dragster decides to clobber you,” Triplett says.
Being a seasoned bracket racing veteran makes settling into a big race much easier for Triplett. Since he travels to so many of these big money races, Triplett sees a lot of these racers on a regular basis, and when the rounds start winding down he knows the competition is about to pick up.
“The fourth round was when things really started to get interesting because I got matched up with AJ Ash. I lock horns with AJ on a regular basis at these big events and he owes me right now so I really didn’t think I was going to get past him — I just felt like it was his turn to hand me a loss. He ended up being .007 on the tree and broke out by .005-seconds, while I was .002 and dead-on with a four, so I had a .006-seconds total winning package,” Triplett says.
After passing his first big test of the Million, Triplett continued to push on towards the money rounds, but when he reached the semi-final round he was matched up against Peeps Pennington. This season Pennington has been an absolute monster in the big money bracket world and he was on a tear during the Million, so Triplett knew he would have his hands full during this marquee match up.
“Pennington had won the Spring Fling Million earlier in the year and was trying to do what they call a ‘Jeff Verdi’ and win both races in the same year. I was really concerned with him and was actually vulnerable that round because I missed the tree with a .019 reaction time. Luckily, I was carrying enough numbers in my pocket to make the finish line look wrong to him and I got the win,” Triplett says.
Vanquishing Pennington put Triplett into the final round and the chance to race for the big money. With his 5.74 prediction locked in on his car, Triplett was ready to do battle one last time at Montgomery Motorsports Park.
“I ran Timothy Thomas in the final. Going into the race my mindset was actually pretty calm. I had this feeling of calmness about me and I knew I had a job to do. In my mind, I felt that as long as I didn’t make any big mistakes I was going to win this round no problem. My biggest fear going into the final was losing since I had already been there once looking for my second title and lost. You don’t get a lot of opportunities at this race and it sucks to miss out on them when you have a shot,” Triplett explains.
Triplett took advantage of his opportunity and was able to beat Thomas and win his second Million event. Seeing that win light made all of the struggles Triplett has endured this season melt away in an instant.
“Lighting the scoreboard up was a big relief. It was really exciting to win, and I told the announcer in my post-race interview that I yelled loud enough that it should have knocked the windows out of the car after I saw the win light.”
Dave Triplett ran the gauntlet at one of the most challenging big-money bracket races you can enter and survived…for the second time. His ability to stay calm and do his job inside the car shows what it takes to go rounds and earn that big check at the end of the day.
Photos Courtesy Of Chris Simmons