DECKER SISTERS GAINING EXPERIENCE, MOMENTUM
Decker Racing Crew attends to Claire’s and Paige’s machines (Eamon Baumann/TUNDRA PR photo)
PORTAGE, Wis. (June 13, 2013) – Before TUNDRA Super Late Model Series Round One at Golden Sands Speedway on Memorial Day, Paige and Claire Decker could only imagine what it was like to wheel their high-powered machines at the third-mile. Both sisters had limited racing experience in Plover, but no experience in their Super Lates.
Once they hit the track on that drizzly afternoon none of that mattered.
The sisters from Eagle River, Wis., gave fans and competitors a bit of a wakeup call in qualifying when Claire first came out and guaranteed herself a spot in the feature. Just to one up her younger sister, Paige then came out and set the second fastest lap, just barely clicking off a better time than fast qualifier Brandon Selle.
Were the Decker sisters expecting their qualifying efforts to be so strong?
“To be honest, I didn’t,” Paige Decker said. “I had Toby [Nuttleman, Paige’s crew chief] on the radio with me and all I wanted to know were my lap times.” Paige, 20, recalled a silent Nuttleman on lap one that led her to worry that she was a bit off. “For the second lap he said, ‘all right Paige you ran a (12.3), you’re in the show but give me a little more.’ After I clicked off the last lap he came on the radio and said, ‘yep, that was a real good lap, Paige.'”
Claire admitted that she was equally surprised. “We were hoping we were going to make it into the feature,” the 18 year old said. “I was very happy when that happened. It’s always good to just qualify in instead of having to worry about coming through the last chance and wrecking or anything like that.”
To qualify in was one thing, but to do it with the amount and caliber of cars on hand for Round One is another. Claire admits she was skeptical that as many as 40 cars would attend the first ever TUNDRA race at GSS.
“It’s always exciting,” Claire offered. “To be around the best drivers, I don’t know how Paige and I pulled it off, but to know that we’re making our way up is huge.”
When the feature field rolled out, the Decker sisters started in close proximity. After the invert Paige started 13th with Claire right behind in 15th. With a quick time comes the likelihood of starting deep in the invert. Paige was completely prepared for that.
“I wasn’t bummed because I was excited to pass some cars. There was a lot of two-wide racing for the first 15 laps,” Paige said.
However, it took some time for the field to spread out and lanes to open. A caution on lap 15 also helped Paige begin to make her moves with Claire close behind. “Once we had a caution and the lane choices, things started to loosen up a bit and we got to pass some cars.”
Paige crept close to the top five, but was shuffled back when two cars came together in front of her and she fell back. Again, Claire was in close proximity. Paige went on to claim some TUNDRA history as the first female to get a top ten. Claire finished one spot behind her in 11th.
“My car really went away at the end of the race so I was just trying to hang on to that tenth position,” Paige said. “I wish things would have gone a little differently, but for my first race I was happy and pleased with the results.”
After the success of Golden Sands, both of the Decker sisters and their father Allen had some conversations. In the end they decided both to continue with TUNDRA and chase the prize money from Dean’s Satellite awaiting this season’s Rookie of the Year. Although they lead the crop with Matt Pyburn, clinching the title will be no easy task.
“When I saw how many rookies there were, it was quite a shock,” Paige said. “[Claire] and I will probably battle the hardest because there is no way I’m going to let her beat me. My dad and I talked about it and we know what has to be done. We have to be consistent, we have to finish all of the races and we know we have to place top ten or top five. It’s going to be tough, but we’re ready for the challenge.”
Claire also recognizes that she may become even more familiar with her sister on the race track this season. “Paige and I are always qualifying next to each other and end up next to each other. It’ll be a battle between us to see who does better. It should be interesting.”
Since Round One the Decker sisters have continued visiting local venues including Golden Sands, Marshfield Motor Speedway (home of TUNDRA Round Five on August 10) and State Park Speedway in Wausau. Claire nearly won the feature a week ago at State Park and Paige has continued her strong qualifying efforts and consistent finishes.
“I really want to go forward from here and do better,” Paige said. “I have high expectations for myself and my crew.”
“I think it really helps me running locally at Golden Sands and Marshfield, hopefully we’ll be good there and that will help us out,” Claire added.
The Decker sisters will have to hope for a similar situation – success with limited experience –
in TUNDRA’s next event at Jefferson Speedway on June 22. Neither sister has even been on track in Jefferson in any sort of racecar.
“You never want to go to a track not knowing anything about it,” Claire said. “I’m excited to go to a new track though.”
Paige echoed Claire’s sentiment, but explained that seat time will be the key to success at Wisconsin’s Action Track. “We’re hoping to get a test in there. We know practice is going to make us faster. Any amount of seat time we can get will help.”
After Jefferson, TUNDRA moves to LaCrosse, where both sisters have experience in Super Late Models during Oktoberfest Race Weekend. A return trip to Golden Sands and a stop at Marshfield will also bring familiarity to the Deckers. However, the final event of the season at Slinger on Sept. 8 will again be a new challenge – one the Deckers are fully prepared to tackle.
TUNDRA Round Two is scheduled for Saturday, June 22 at Jefferson Speedway. Pit gates open at 1 p.m. with practice beginning at 2 p.m., fan gates opening at 3 p.m., qualifying at 5 p.m. and racing at 7 p.m. TUNDRA will be joined by the Mid-American Stock Car Series and the Jefferson Hobby Stocks and Road Warriors.
Jefferson Speedway is located at W8135 US Hwy 18 just outside Jefferson, Wis. For more information visit www.jeffersonspeedway.com.
The Unified Northern Drivers Racing Association (TUNDRA) Super Late Model Series was formed in 2011 as the Alive For Five Super Late Model Series at Dells Raceway Park. TUNDRA’s business plan is based on a sustainable program for promoters and race teams alike, while still providing high-quality Super Late Model entertainment to fans.
For more information on TUNDRA including news, results and standings, archived results and standings, the 2013 schedule and more visit www.tundrasuperlates.com. Also, interact with us on Facebook (facebook.com/TundraSuperLateModels) or Twitter (@TUNDRAslms)