Anthony Bertozzi, one of NHRA's most decorated sportsman drag racers, passed another milestone Monday when he drove to the Top Dragster title during the rain-delayed final rounds at the JEGS SPORTSnationals. Bertozzi is now the most successful driver in the history of the event with five titles.
A total of 11 champions were crowned out of a starting field of more than 600 drivers who attended JEGS Speedweek at historic National Trail Raceway. In addition to Bertozzi, Chad Voges (Comp), Jeff Dona (Super Stock), Eric Campolito (Stock), Phillip Oakley (Super Comp), Dwight Nuest (Super Gas), Mark Smith (Super Street), John Benoit (Top Sportsman), and Bruce Sauer (Sportsman Motorcycle) all racked up wins.
Earlier in the weekend, Megan Meyer and D.J. Cox, each earned titles in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car, respectively. All of the SPORTSnationals champions received a coveted copper NHRA Wally trophy.
Bertozzi earned his 24th NHRA national event title when he defeated Team JEGS driver Mike Coughlin in the final round. Like Bertozzi, Coughlin also has experienced a tremendous amount of success in SPORTSnationals races with four previous victories. In one of the best side-by-side races of the weekend, both drivers were nearly perfect off the starting line, but the win light shone in Bertozzi's lane after Coughlin broke out with a 6.16 on his 6.18-second prediction. Despite the loss, it was hard for Coughlin to call the weekend anything other than a success.
"We had a darn good time but we just came up a little short in the final," said Coughlin, a five-time national event winner at National Trail Raceway. "I just took a little more than I wanted at the finish line but when you race a guy like Anthony, he's one of the best, so you have to be on your game. It was close but I'm not disappointed one bit.
"This was my first national event of the year and my car was awesome. It was a good start to the season and if I had a chance to go back and re-run the final, I don't think I'd change a thing.
"As a whole, JEGS Speedweek was great. This is the best turnout they've had in many years and the new management has done a great job with National Trail Raceway. They understand what it takes to succeed, and I was happy to see them have such a successful event."
Meyer and Cox earned their titles in the North Central Regional event that was the first part of JEGS Speedweek. The reigning NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster world champion, Meyer was the low qualifier and reached the final where she defeated Mike Bucher with a run of 5.260 seconds. Cox also was the top qualifier in his Chevy Camaro-bodied Top Alcohol Funny Car and defeated two-time and reigning class champion Sean Bellemeur in the trophy round with a 5.468-second elapsed time.
Voges earned the fourth national event title of his career, and his first since 2007, when he stopped Greg Kamplain in the final of Comp Eliminator. Driving his '32 Bantam roadster, Voges was first off the starting line in his final against low qualifier Greg Kamplain and held on for the win with a 7.613, his quickest run of the weekend.
Dona is now a three-time winner in national event competition after claiming the Super Stock title over Todd Frantz. Dona, racing in his eighth national event final, was able to cruise to the victory after Frantz fouled at the start. The final was a rematch of the 2013 NHRA U.S. Nationals, which was won by Frantz, a two-time JEGS SPORTSnationals champion.
The Stock Eliminator class featured a first-time winner after Campolito outlasted a field of 140 entries before parking his '96 Caprice in the National Trail Raceway winner's circle. Campolito posted a dial-in prediction of 11.73 seconds and matched it perfectly in the final to beat opponent Bryan Merkle, who posted a 10.76 on a 10.73 dial-in.
In 2014, Oakley won the Top Dragster title at the JEGS Northern SPORTSnationals and returned six years later to add another title after winning the Super Comp crown here. Facing world champion John Labbous Jr. in the final, Oakley gained a slight lead at the start and held on for a razor-thin victory with an 8.928 to Labbous' 8.932.
Nuest collected his second title in Super Gas following a final-round win against Sarah Becker. Driving his unique '82 Dodge Rampage, Nuest matched the Super Gas index with a 9.906 to Becker's 9.866-second breakout. Nuest's only other national event win came in St. Louis in 2017.
Smith lost last year's Division 3 Super Street title via a tiebreaker but he's now a SPORTSnationals champion after driving his '82 Mustang to a perfect 10.90-second run in the final to stop Rocky Van Note, who had an early advantage, but broke out at the finish line. Smith's only other national event final was a runner-up at the 2018 JEGS SPORTSnationals.
In Top Sportsman, Benoit claimed his second title when he topped Chris Osborn in the final round. Benoit gained an early lead and then drove his '15 Corvette to a 6.57 on his 6.56 dial-in for the win. Osborn matched his dial with a 6.68 but couldn't catch Benoit.
A pair of local racers met to decide the Sportsman Motorcycle title with Sauer, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, riding to a victory against Zanesville's Anthony Moore, who fouled at the start.
One day after winners were crowned in the Division 3 Lucas Oil Series event, JEGS Speedweek remained at full speed as the fields were set for the annual JEGS SPORTSnationals race.
Saturday's packed schedule at National Trail Raceway included qualifying and elimination rounds for Top Alcohol Dragster, Top Alcohol Funny Car, Comp, Top Dragster and Top Sportsman. Also on the docket was the opening round in Super Comp, Super Gas, and Super Street drivers, plus class eliminations for Super Stock and Stock drivers.
Reigning world champion Megan Meyer and De l Cox Jr. emerged as the respective top qualifiers in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car, two categories making their first SPORTSnationals appearance since 1985. Meyer drove to a 5.225-second elapsed time and also won her first-round race. She'll be joined in the semifinals by Jackie Fricke, Mike Bucher, and Josh Hart.
Cox drove his Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car to a 5.518-second pass to lead Top Alcohol Funny Car. Like Meyer, Cox also emerged as a winner from Round 1 and is joined by two-time world champion Sean Bellemeur, Drew Hales, and Chris Foster in the final four.
The low qualifiers in Comp, Super Stock, and Stock included Greg Kamplain, Andy Kronenbitter, and Bill Dyer.
Kamplain won the first of his eight national event titles at the JEGS SPORTSnationals in 1983. Kronenbitter topped a field of 95 Super Stock entries in his '08 Cobalt while Dyer drove his '10 Cobra Jet Mustang to the qualifying lead in Stock over a huge field of 139 drivers.
Zach Sackman, a winner at last weekend's NHRA Nationals in Indianapolis, took the qualifying lead in the Vortech Superchargers Top Dragster class with a run of 6.128-seconds. In Vortech Superchargers Top Sportsman, Boyd Beyer is the top qualifier at 6.461 seconds.
Team JEGS driver Mike Coughlin, a four-time SPORTSnationals winner, is also solidly in the Top Dragster field with his supercharged dragster. Coughlin drove to a competitive 6.174 to earn the No. 4 starting spot. Coughlin nailed down three-straight SPORTSnationals wins in 2005-2007, and won again in 2009. He's also got five wins at National Trail Raceway, his home track.
A trio of JEGS machines entered eliminations in Super Comp on Saturday with Troy Coughlin Jr., Paige Coughlin, and Makenna Brown each piloting their familiar JEGS.com dragsters. While Troy Jr. suffered a tough loss, Paige and Makenna moved on to Sunday's final elimination rounds.
The JEGS Speedweek event has been a huge success with upwards of 650 entries for the double-header race that features both a Division 3 Lucas Oil Series race and the JEGS SPORTSnationals. The event will conclude at 8 a.m. Sunday with final eliminations resuming.
Ronnie Bohn, Michael Volkman, and Doug Duell were among the winners crowned Friday night as part of the Division 3 Lucas Oil Series event at National Trail Raceway. Bohn won in Comp Eliminator, Volkman earned the Super Stock title, and Duell won in Stock Eliminator.
The other champions crowned Friday evening included Michael Handras (Super Comp), Greg Slack (Super Gas), Robert Bauer (Super Street), Danny Nelson (Top Dragster), and Curt Fredrich (Top Sportsman).
The North Central Division Lucas Oil Series event marks the first of two races that make up JEGS Speedweek, an event that has attracted more than 600 of the nation's best sportsman drag racers.
Bohn drove his six-cylinder powered dragster to a victory over past JEGS SPORTSnationals winner Mike Farrell in the final round of Comp. Bohn, was the No. 2 qualifier in the quick field while Farrell was sixth quickest at the start of eliminations.
Volkman drove his Dodge Sebring to the Super Stock title by defeating Brina Frank in the final round. Volkman posted a dial-in time of 10.68 seconds and ran a 10.73 for the win. He entered the Columbus event as the No. 5 ranked Super Stock driver in NHRA competition.
Duell outlasted 139 other racers to take home the Stock title. Paired with Kevin Wells in the final, Duell drove his vintage Plymouth Barracuda to the win when Wells fouled at the start.
Handras outlasted a big field of Super Comp entries to earn that title. Handras defeated Rick Huges in the final round, which was decided via a double-breakout.
Slack kicked off the 2020 season with a win and a runner-up in Gainesville, Fla., and he found the winner's circle again here by beating Tommy Turner in the Super Gas final. Slack, in his '70 Ford Maverick, ran right on the 9.90-second index for the victory.
Bauer had a nearly-perfect reaction time in the final round of Super Street, and parlayed his starting line advantage into a victory over Mark Smith. Bauer drove to a 10.93 elapsed time for the victory.
Fredrich is the reigning series champion in the Oakley Motorsports Top Sportsman class, and he bolstered his title defense with a final-round win against Glenn Butcher. Fredrich drove his '68 Camaro to a 6.632-second run for the win, which was highlighted by an almost-perfect .007 reaction time.
Nelson, defending JEGS SPORTSnationals winner and reigning NHRA Top Dragster world champion, continued his winning ways by besting Anthony Bertozzi in the final of Oakley Motorsports Top Dragster. Nelson drove to a 6.14 elapsed time on his 6.13 dial to take the victory.
JEGS Speedweek will continue on Saturday, July 18 with qualifying rounds for the JEGS SPORTSnationals. Racing will get underway at 8 a.m. Saturday's program will also include class eliminations for Super Stock and Stock drivers as well as final qualifying rounds for racers in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car.
The NHRA North Central Division and JEGS Mail Order worked together to organize JEGS Speedweek, which kicked off Thursday with more than 600 of the nation's best sportsman drag racers getting to work at National Trail Raceway.
The historic event combines the first Lucas Oil Series Division 3 race of the season with the annual JEGS.com SPORTSnationals. The Division 3 race will take place Thursday and Friday, followed by the JEGS SPORTSnationals on Saturday and Sunday.
After Thursday's opening rounds of qualifying, Frank Affronti (Comp), Rich South (Super Stock), Gary Summers (Stock), Lester Johnson (Top Sportsman) and J.B. Strassweg (Top Dragster) lead their respective fields. Racers in Super Comp, Super Gas, Super Street, and Sportsman Motorcycle also made time trial runs in preparation for Friday's eliminations.
Affronti drove his Chevy Cobalt to a run of 7.337 seconds to lead the Comp Eliminator field. A finalist at the 1999 U.S. Nationals, Affronti was able to hold off Ronnie Bohn, Scott Chamness, and Greg Kamplain, who all made solid qualifying runs themselves. Defending JEGS SPORTSnationals Comp winner Terry Smith is seeded No. 10 in the field. Smith can earn the coveted JEGS Crown trophy should he prevail during Sunday's final eliminations.
Racing in his home state, South, who hails from of Pickerington, Ohio, topped a 98-car field of Super Stock drivers with a run of 9.908 seconds in his Pontiac G5. South's closest pursuers include Bill Rink, Andy Kronenbitter, and Tony DePillo. Defending race winner Dan Steed, of Radnor, Ohio, is solidly in the field with his vintage '66 Chevy II and will have an opportunity to score back-to-back SPORTSnationals titles this weekend.
In Stock Eliminator, a massive field of 140 drivers is competing for 128 qualifying spots and the current king of the hill is Summers with a run of 13.74 seconds in his '77 Ford Mustang. The top four qualifiers include Bill Dyer, Jim Marshall, and Dave Walther. The defending event winner is four-time world champion Jeff Taylor, who is driving the JEGS.com Dodge Challenger Drag Pak normally raced by Pro Stock ace Jeg Coughlin Jr. Taylor ran a best of 9.713-seconds to secure the No. 12 starting spot.
Johnson is the qualifying leader in the Oakley Motorsports Top Sportsman category after a run of 6.237 seconds at more than 234 mph in his unique '55 Chevy. Johnson holds a sizable lead over No. 2 qualifier, Jeff Melnick, who ran a 6.434, and Eric Burnett, who is third with a 6.445. The 27-car Top Sportsman field includes four drivers who earned top-10 finishes last season.
Strassweg earned the top seed in his Oakley Motorsports Top Dragster class following a run of 6.137 seconds. He was able to hold off defending world champion and JEGS SPORTSnationals winner Danny Nelson, who recorded a best of 6.168 seconds. Danny Waddle Jr. and Phillip Oakley round out the top four qualifying spots, while Team JEGS driver Mike Coughlin is the No. 9 seed after a 6.244-second run. Coughlin, the reigning Division 3 champion, is one of the most successful racers in the history of the JEGS SPORTSnationals with four career victories.
JEGS Speedweek continues at 8 a.m., Friday, with final eliminations for the North Central Division Lucas Oil Series event. The event schedule also will include qualifying runs for competitors in the Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car classes, which are making their first SPORTSnationals appearance since 1985.