COMP RACER MOZERIS ENJOYS DOUBLE FINAL ROUND WEEKEND TO CLIMB INTO ROOFTEC D4 BONUS TOP TEN
Kayla Mozeris had an eventful weekend full of firsts in the Comp Eliminator category, leaving her with much to process. Over three days, Mozeris experienced her first final round, runner-up finish, race against her father, and victory. These accomplishments propelled her into the Top Ten in the Rooftec Division 4 Competition Eliminator Bonus Fund (CEBF), initiated by Rodger Brogdon, which offers over $350,000 in additional prizes for the top finishers.
Mozeris encountered tough competition at the final double-header Division 4 event in Tulsa, Okla. This year, Division 4 attracted full 32-car fields largely in part to the Rooftec Competition Eliminator Bonus Fund. It was also Mozeris’ first year driving for Clint Neff in his K/AA machine.
“I’m still gaining experience when it comes to chasing competitors or being chased by them,” said Mozeris. “I’m trying not to take too much stripe, but I’m still learning how to handle it.”
Despite the learning curve, Mozeris triumphed over Shane Heckel in the first round and then faced CEBF points leader Chase Williams in the second round. She overcame Williams, followed by a win against Rick Brown, who ranks in the top five of points earners for the specialty series.
“When I ran Jarrod in the semis, I was dead late on the tree,” recalled Mozeris. “So I had to use up everything we had in the bank to get by him.”
In the finals, Mozeris encountered Clark Smiley, although she went red, she did not let the loss dampen her spirits, as she was content with her overall performance throughout the day.
“I’m not going to complain about getting to go to a final round,” said Mozeris. “I was really happy with my driving. So, even though we lost, I wasn’t upset. If I compare how I was driving at the beginning of the year to how I drove this weekend, I think I’ve made a lot of improvements, and I’m more comfortable with the car. Everything just kind of clicked.”
Without much time to reflect on her first final round, Mozeris quickly shifted her focus to the second event of the Division 4 doubleheader.
Interestingly, she noted several similarities between the two events. She defeated Chase Williams again, highlighting the challenge of adapting to the chase aspect in Comp Eliminator.
“The second event had a lot of similarities to the first one,” recalls Mozeris. “That round against Chase was probably my ‘lucky’ round if I had one because I’m still getting used to the whole chase aspect of Comp. I kind of lost him in my mirrors, so I lifted earlier than I should have and almost gave it back to him.”
Mozeris faced another memorable moment when she raced against her father, Joe Mozeris, something they had eagerly anticipated since her entry into Comp Eliminator.
“Racing each other was something that we’ve been looking forward to since I started in Comp,” says Mozeris. “We wished it would have happened a little bit later in eliminations, but we knew it was going to happen at some point. He came over, and we were both excited, and he asked me what the deal was. I told him, ‘Dad, you don’t own this car. I’m not going to take it easy on you, man. There are no deals.’ He had lane choice, and he said, ‘I’ll take the left lane… unless you want it. If you want the left lane, I can take the right.’ I said, ‘Dad, no! That’s not how this works. We are competitors. You’ve got lane choice, so take it. I wouldn’t have given lane choice to you.’
“When we raced, he was a little tardy on the tree and started darting towards the wall. But it turns out that he broke a valve spring in the burnout, so it worked out in his favor that his run had to be aborted because he could have done more damage to the engine. So it all worked out like it was supposed to. I wish it could have been more of a race between us.”
Once again, Mozeris encountered Rick Brown in the semifinals and successfully bypassed him, albeit with a hit to her index for the first time that day.
“It was like Groundhog Day or something,” she said with a chuckle. “I was down two hundredths and he was down one.”
As an interesting aside, Mozeris and Smiley were the only two drivers who took a hit to their personal index in that entire event - a rarity in Comp Eliminator, but not entirely surprising as the hot and muggy weather was impacting most of the machines out there.
Mozeris had an exceptional reaction time of .003 seconds, attributing it to the adrenaline rush.
“I learned this weekend that I’m a lot calmer in the final round than I am in the first round,” said Mozeris. “You are moving quickly, so you don’t really have time to overthink it. But I knew that if I could turn it green, I would have a very good chance of beating him. I told myself not to lift until about 1340 feet because I wanted to be sure I got him.”
Indeed, she stuck to her plan.
“I looked back just once to make sure he was still coming, and he was, so then I just kept going straight ahead. I saw that win light come on, and I was hootin’ and hollerin’. I was freaking out down there. I turned the corner and it took me a minute to get out of the car because I was just bawling. I had to catch my breath. And I’m happy Clark and I were able to each get a win. I told him at the top end that I couldn’t let him hog all the Wallys. He’s such a nice guy, too. He congratulated me, saying that he was happy taking one win and one runner-up. I feel the same way.”
Taking a moment to reflect on her string of accomplishments over the weekend, Mozeris is excited to be in the midst of the CEBF points competition. Initially ranked around 20th, Mozeris acknowledges the possibility of securing a spot in the Top Ten.
“Coming into the race, I think I was around 20th. So I was thinking there could be a shot, but I would have to really get a lot of things right for that to happen to get into the Top Ten. And then the way it worked out, we’re sitting at No. 10 right now with one more race in Dallas. If we can stay in the top ten, I would love to do that. But I’m not going to stress myself out over it or start counting points the whole time.”
Throughout her journey in Comp Eliminator, Mozeris acknowledges the guidance and support she has received from car owner Clint Neff. He reminds her that she is continuously learning and acknowledges her progress in a relatively short time. Neff always encourages her to have fun while racing and assures her that he is proud of her, regardless of the outcome.
“I just want to do the same thing [every weekend] as this weekend, just go out there and be good on the tree, make some good laps and smart decisions,” Mozeris said. “I hope we just keep turning on win lights. The Bonus Fund just elevates all of the competition. It’s great!”