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Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals Sportsman highlights

10 May 2021
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
News
Rich McPhillips Jr.

The Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals, the final NHRA national event at Atlanta Dragway, featured a lot of history, including the first wins by Rich McPhillips Jr. and Paul Gill in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car, respectively. The Atlanta race also featured a near-double by Kent Hanley, who earned a win in Super Stock and a runner-up in Super Comp. McPhillips, Gill, and Hanley shared the spotlight with fellow event winners Greg Rowe (Stock), Chuck Trotter (Super Comp), Luke Bogacki (Super Gas), Tony Jones (Super Street), and Dylan Stott (Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers). 

McPhillips and his father, Rich Sr., have become a formidable team as tuners for a variety of drivers, including Troy Coughlin Jr. and current drivers Matt Cummings and Jasmine Salinas. In Atlanta, McPhillips took the wheel and delivered an impressive performance that included a 5.18 in the Top Alcohol Dragster final to beat Jackie Fricke, who left first but smoked the tires and slowed. [video]

Like McPhillips, Gill also drove to his first national event final in Atlanta and delivered a win in his Moduline Cabinets Camaro. Gill qualified No. 1 with a competitive 5.481 and delivered a narrow 5.522 to 5.542 win against Bob McCosh in the Top Alcohol Funny Car final round. The win was highlighted by Gill’s quick .004 reaction time in the final round. [video]

Hanley drove to a pair of final rounds in Atlanta and earned a split with a win in Super Stock and a runner-up in Super Comp. In the Super Stock final, Hanley took on second-generation racer Brett Candies and put together a solid run with a 9.434 on his 9.42 dial to win for the fourth time in eight career final rounds. Candies was also a runner-up at the Division 4 event held at Houston Raceway Park earlier this season. [video]

Hanley’s chance to double up ended in the Super Comp final, where he lost a very close battle against Chuck Trotter. Hanley ran an 8.906, but it wasn’t enough as Trotter left first and turned on the win light with an 8.907 in his Ford Thunderbird. Trotter made history of his own in Atlanta as the first driver in a full-bodied car to win in Super Comp in a decade. Hanley now has four career wins, two in Super Stock and two in Super Comp. [video]

In Stock, Rowe survived several tough battles to reach the final, where he took out Adam Davis to win for the fifth time, including three at Atlanta Dragway. The final was a heads-up, no-breakout battle featuring a pair of K/SA entries, and Rowe’s Camaro had the performance to easily cover Davis’ Chevelle station wagon, 11.655 to 11.903. [video]

Two-time world champion Bogacki also favors Atlanta Dragway after earning his third title there and 15th overall. Bogacki picked up his latest win in Super Gas when he downed Jonathan Anderson in the final round. After an even start, Anderson crossed the finish line first but paid the price for it with a 9.884 breakout, and Bogacki lit up the scoreboard with a nearly perfect 9.907 in his Corvette roadster. Despite the loss, Anderson is the early-season leader in the race for the Super Comp national championship. [video]

The Super Street class also featured a first-time winner after Texas’ Tony Jones topped Division 1 ace Keith Mayers in the final round. Jones was quick off the starting line with a .009 light and emerged victorious in a 10.87 to 10.86 double-breakout race against Mayer’s feared Porsche. Last year, Jones went to the final round of the Division 5 event in Topeka and finished as the fifth-ranked driver in the South Central Division. [video]

Stott picked up his first win in the Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers class, but first, he had to get past world champion Sandy Wilkins in the final. The sponsor of the Top Sportsman class in the Southeast Division, Stott wheeled his ’20 Mustang to the title via a double breakout with a 6.614 on his 6.62 prediction. Wilkins, the low qualifier with a 6.355, was slightly ahead at the start but broke out with a 6.525 on his 6.55 dial. Stott’s win, coupled with several quarterfinal finishes, has him leading the points standings in Top Sportsman. [video]