Rich McPhillips Jr. and newly crowned three-time world champion Sean Bellemeur were among the winners crowned during the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona. McPhillips won his third national event of the season in Top Alcohol Dragster, and Bellemeur won his sixth national event just two weeks after clinching the Top Alcohol Funny Car title.
McPhillips and Bellemeur shared the spotlight with other Pomona NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series champions Ryan Warter (Comp), Jimmy DeFrank (Super Stock), Jeff Taylor (Stock), Cody Perkins (Super Comp), Steve Williams (Super Gas), Parker Theobald (Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers, and Jeff Gillette (Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers).
McPhillips latest victory was easily his most impressive because it included a personal best 5.101 in the quarterfinals that ranks among the best runs in the history of the Top Alcohol Dragster class. McPhillips never ran slower than 5.17 in eliminations as he worked his way past Trevor Larkin, Casey Grisel, and Jasmine Salinas. In the final, McPhillips closed out the season with a 5.138 to edge the very competitive 5.173 of Julie Nataas. [video]
Bellemeur closed out his third championship season with a win in Tony Bartone’s Hussey Performance Camaro when he defeated reigning champion Doug Gordon in the Top Alcohol Funny Car final round, 5.465 to 5.483. Bellemeur was solidly in the 5.4s throughout the event in his wins against Don Hudson, Brian Hough, and Gordon, including low elapsed time and top speed of the event at 5.442, 269.89. [video]
Warter left Pomona with his second national event Wally following his final-round win over Scott McClay in Comp. Warter, who previously won the Stock title at the 2018 Seattle race, overcame McClay’s .006 reaction time to win with a (-.481) 8.749 in his H/Altered Camaro. McClay wasn’t far behind with a (-.441) 7.329. With three wins in six finals, Warter was able to finish the season as the No. 7-ranked driver in Comp. [video]
DeFrank now has 21 national event wins to go with his five world championships, and 11 of those victories have come in Pomona. DeFrank, the No. 3 finisher in the Super Stock standings, won his latest title with a slowing 9.179 on his 8.98 dial after opponent Angelo DeCarlo broke out by .022-second in his show-quality SS/HA ’66 Corvette. [video]
DeFrank was joined by his teammate, Stock winner Taylor, who is approaching a major milestone with his 49th national event victory. Taylor, a four-time world champion who claimed his first win in 1981, earned his latest title with a slowing 9.42 on his 9.25 dial after opponent Randi Lyn Shipp spun the tires in her D/SA Firebird. The Stock world championship was decided early in eliminations after Jerry Emmons took his bye run in round two. [video]
A decade after winning the Top Alcohol Dragster title in Topeka, Perkins returned to the winner’s circle in Super Comp when he scored a narrow 8.904 to 8.908 win against Ken Mostowich in the final. The highlight of Perkins’ day was a near-perfect run in the third round that included a .002 light an 8.902 in his win against Val Torres. [video]
Two weeks after winning the Super Comp title in Las Vegas, former world champion Williams scored again, this time in Super Gas. Williams wheeled his Corvette to a 9.877 for the win after opponent Roger Kato fouled. Williams reached the final after a close semifinal win over another world champion, Devin Isenhower. [video]
A year after winning the Super Comp title at the Winternaitonals, Theobald returned to Auto Club Raceway at Pomona to score again in Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers. In the final, Theobald posted a 7.498 on his 7.47 dial for the win over Jennifer Wiens, who spun the tires and slowed from her 6.18 dial. [video]
In Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers, Gillette drove his Pontiac GTO to a 6.957 on his 6.95 dial to stop the Mountain View Performance Camaro of Ryan Priddy, who was also sharp with a 6.617 against his 6.61 dial. Gillette now has five national event wins, three in Comp and two in Top Sportsman. [video]