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The Sports Report: The highs and lows of Koy Collier

Two weeks after his father, Steve, was injured in an on-track accident in Topeka, Koy Collier went to Chicago and nearly doubled-up at the JEGS Route 66 NHRA Nationals.
06 Jun 2018
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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koy2.jpgTo suggest that the last three weeks have been some of the most stressful, and worrisome, but ultimately rewarding times of young Koy Collier’s life would be a huge understatement. Collier is a member of one of drag racing’s most successful families. Still a teenager, for at least another few months, Koy has won a pair of national events while his father, Steve, is a four-time winner in Super Comp and Super Gas. Uncle, Jack has also been known to turn on his share of win lights including a runner-up finish at the JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals in Belle Rose in 2014.

Earlier this season, the Collier family experienced one of the greatest moments any racing family can have when Koy defeated Steve to win the Super Gas title at the NHRA SpringNationals in Houston. They became just the 13th father and son duo to race each other in the final of an NHRA national event. Two weeks ago, the Collier’s season turn a turn for the worse when Steve was injured in an on-track accident at the Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties in Topeka. During Monday’s rain-delayed final rounds, Koy watched in horror from the starting line while when Steve was involved in a rare blowover accident behind the wheel of the family’s injected nitro Top Alcohol Dragster. Steve suffered numerous injuries as a result of the crash and while he is expected to make a full recovery, he’ll likely be sidelined until the end of August, if not longer.

koy3.jpgWith his father convalescing at home, Koy and Jack headed to Chicago for the annual JEGS Route 66 NHRA Nationals and the accompanying JEGS Allstars race. Jack, the Division 4 representative in Super Gas, went to the final round before he lost a heartbreaking race against Division 7 ace Ken Mostowich but Koy rallied on Sunday to earn another win in Super Gas and a runner-up finish in Super Comp. The only thing that prevented a double-up was Koy’s -.009 red-light against two-time national champ Austin Williams.

“This means a lot,” said Collier. “A lot has happened to our family over the past couple of months. It was a little tough to focus but you’ve got to keep your head in the game and stay in the rhythm. I just can’t ask for much better. I talked to my dad every day and he wishes he was here.  After what he’s been through, this [Wally trophy] means a lot to him.”

The best of the rest: Two weeks after he broke a three-year winless drought with a Super Stock victory in Topeka, Michael Mans returned to the winner’s circle after he drove Daryl Arrowsmith’s GTO to the Comp Eliminator title. Facing a field that included some of the best racers in the country, Mans made a clean sweep of the event after qualifying No. 1 and winning the event. His path to the final included wins against past national champions David Rampy and Craig Bourgeois. In the final, Mans grabbed nearly a tenth off the starting line against Greg Kamplain and held on for the holeshot win with a (-.514) 8.166 to Kamplain’s (-.540) 6.780.

Collier wasn’t the only driver who nearly doubled-up in Chicago because reigning Stock and Super Stock champion Justin Lamb made it to the final of both of those eliminators as well. Lamb fouled by eight-thousandths in the Stock final but returned a few moments later to close the deal in Super Stock when he drove his SS/AM Cobalt to a final round win against Dave Dupps Jr. Lamb won for the 22nd time in his career and his third this season with an 8.542 on his 8.52 dial while Dupps was .013-second behind with a 9.956 on his 9.94 dial. Should he decide to pursue another Lucas Oil Series championship, Lamb is off to a flying start with a perfect three-win national event score.

koy4.jpgLamb’s red-light in the Stock final was a huge relief to Jeff Adkinson, who won his third national event title behind the wheel of his A/SA ’69 Camaro. A multi-time Division 2 champ, Adkinson reached the final by beating Matt Lund in a heads-up, no breakout battle and then downing Ben Wenzel’s classic ’67 Z-28 Camaro and Division 6 JEGS Allstar rep Joe Sorensen. Adkinson also raced in Super Stock but went out in round one on a foul start.

The Super Comp final was also decided via a red-light start which ended Collier’s chance to join the distinguished list of drivers who have doubled-up at an NHRA national event. When Collier left .009-second ahead of the green light, Williams won the 13th national event of his career. Williams has also won at least one Wally in each of the last six seasons and eight of the previous ten. Williams’ best numbers came in the second round where he used a .005 light and an 8.904 to overcome Jeff Beckman’s perfect 8.900 pass.

koy5.jpgVal Harmon, the 2012 JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals champion, earned a second national event title in Super Street after defeating Cole Cummings, who finished the event with a win and a semifinal. Harmon won the all-Louisiana, all-’67 Nova battle with a .013 light and a 10.912 to Cummings’ .038 light and 10.914. A round earlier, Harmon dashed Phil Smida’s hopes for a double-up after Smida won Saturday’s JEGS Allstars title.

Crazy doesn’t begin to describe the final round of Top Sportsman presented by Racing RVs.com after Don O’Neal won his second national event of the season, even though he fouled in the final. O’Neal left .004-second too soon which should have ended the final round but opponent Lester Johnson, who won Saturday’s JEGS Allstars race in his amazing low six-second ’55 Chevy, got out of shape and nicked a timing block near the finish line, handing the win back to O’Neal. Johnson got to the final after a semifinal win against Nick Meloni while O’Neal topped Curt Fredrich.

With a win in the final round of Top Dragster presented by Racing RVs.com, Kyle Seipel joined his good buddy, Lamb in the winner’s circle. Seipel, a winner in four different NHRA classes, locked horns with young prodigy Aaron Stanfield in the final and squeezed out a win by just three-thousandths of a second, thanks to a .010 light and a 6.728 on his 6.72 dial. Nick Meloni also made the final four in Top Dragster before losing to Seipel and Stanfield stopped Mark Jones in the other semifinal match.