Bryan Warr enjoyed his trip to the NHRA Arizona Nationals so much he decided to stay an extra week at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park so he could compete in the Division 7 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series opener, and by the time he returned to his home in Utah, he had collected a pair of Wallys.
Warr drove his 6-second Corvette to an emotional first national event title at the NHRA Arizona Nationals, and then scored a second victory a week later. All told, he won 11 straight rounds against some of the best competition the Pacific Division has to offer.
“I can’t believe this happened; it’s a dream come true,” said Warr, following his first win. “You’ve got to have a little luck, and I had a little, but this means more than words can say. You dream about this, but you think it will never happen.”
Coming off a round-two loss at the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Internationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com in Pomona, Warr quickly righted the ship and in many ways saved his season, following his Phoenix double.
Warr is the reigning Division 7 champion and last season’s No. 5 ranked driver in the extremely competitive Top Sportsman class. He won a pair of Lucas Oil Series events and also claimed a runner-up finish at the NHRA Northwest Nationals in Seattle. He clinched the Division 7 title late in the year with a win at his home track, Rocky Mountain Raceways in Salt Lake City. The three-month offseason appears to have done nothing to curtail Warr’s momentum as he’s now been to six finals since the start of the 2017 season with four wins.
“My entire goal this season was to win a national event, and that started off about as well as I could have wanted it to,” said Warr, who races alongside his brother, Patrick, who races a similar Corvette in Top Sportsman, and nephew Logan, who drives in Super Comp. “After I won the national event, my confidence was pretty strong. The car was flawless most of the week. It was very consistent, which made me feel good going into the divisional.”
The first of Warr’s 11 round-wins came against six-time NHRA champion Jeg Coughlin Jr., who was making his Top Sportsman debut behind the wheel of Phil Unruh’s new Corvette. After some initial struggles with the new car, Coughlin gave Warr all he could handle but broke out by a thousandth of a second. A round later, Warr was paired with another national champ, Mike Ferderer, who fouled.
“It was very cool to race Jeg; that was awesome,” Warr said. “I know he’d never been in that car, and they didn’t get down the track too well during qualifying, but it was still an honor to run him. For all the problems they had, he was really good, and of course, I wouldn’t expect anything else from him. He was tough, but if he had more runs in that car, I’m sure he would have been a lot more difficult to beat.”
Warr went on to defeat Bud Pruess in the final of the Arizona Nationals and not surprisingly, he didn’t touch his Corvette between events other than routine maintenance. He returned for the second event and continued with a string of solid reaction times. Appearing in his second final, Warr went on to defeat Dave Slatten in a race decided by less than a thousandth of a second at the finish line.
“Overall, I was really happy with the way I drove,” Warr said. “That final was .0006-second, so there was no way to know who was going to win it. I had been in the left lane for most of the day, and I made that run in the right and it slowed down by three-hundredths in 60 feet. I got the win, but just barely. I had another really close race against Ed Olpin at the national event but that was the closest of the two weeks."
The 2018 NHRA season is less than a month old but it’s already apparent to Warr that he’s the points leader in the Top Sportsman presented by Racing RVs class. While he’s not about to start thinking about a championship, he does realize that his hot start will give him an opportunity to pursue a title, or at the very least another top-five finish.
“I really don’t want to get ahead of myself but if things continue, I’d go after the [championship],” Warr said. “I was already planning on going to eight divisional events and five national events so that plan is still in place. I also think I have a good chance to make the [Division 7 team] JEG’s Allstars, so I might have a trip to Chicago this summer.
“I have a new car on order from Rick Jones that is just like my brother’s Corvette but at this point, I’m really hesitant to make a change. My car has been so good for the last few months. Eventually, I’ll have to make a decision, but for now, I’m pretty comfortable with what I have. I’d like to ride this a little longer.”