The last time that Greg Stanfield was crowned an NHRA world champion, there was no World Series due to a baseball player strike, Johnny Carson made his final appearance on The Tonight Show, and the internet was still a mystery to most people. That was 1994, and Stanfield was easily the sport’s most celebrated sportsman driver, having won the Super Stock title four times in a five-year stretch from 1990-94.
Stanfield didn’t exactly disappear after winning his last title. He went on to additional success racing in Comp, Pro Stock Truck, and Pro Stock. Stanfield has also established himself as one of the sport’s premier engine builders and in recent years, he’s mentored his son, Aaron, who is one of drag racing’s most promising young stars.
Stanfield has raced sporadically in the last few years but when he won three Lucas Oil Series races early in the 2021 season, it was hard not to think he’d be a contender for another championship. More recently, Stanfield went to Dallas for the Texas NHRA Fallnationals where he scored a semifinal finish and a runner-up in the re-run of the delayed Houston event from earlier this season.
Now, Stanfield has delivered a near knockout blow by winning the Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol. Following his 14th career win, Stanfield has pushed his points total to an impressive 692. He’s not yet clinched a championship, but he’s surely the odds-on favorite with just a handful of races remaining this season.
Surprisingly, Stanfield wasn’t initially motivated to chase the title, but at this point, it’s obvious that he’s in it to win it. He’s not an overly sentimental guy, but it’s also meaningful to be racing the same Camaro for each of his championship seasons. The fact that son, Aaron has already locked up his second championship in the Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown is also not lost on Stanfield.
“Chasing points? I guess I am now,” said Stanfield. “Aaron has been pushing me all year to do it. When I got back in old red [the team’s ’87 Camaro] they’ve got a song at the shop, the reunited song. It’s been cool to race that car. It’s been kind of a rocky race for me here, but I don’t know, it was just meant to be. I’ve been racing here [in Bristol] for 40 years and never won.”
Stanfield has been racing long enough that he understands how to operate under pressure so his weekend in Bristol likely wasn’t too stressful. Stanfield got a single in round one after Lindsay Brand was a no-show things got much more difficult in round two when he was paired against Johnny Raikes. Stanfield was nearly perfect on both ends of the track with a .006 light and a 9.976 on his 9.97 dial and needed most of it as Raikes was also very competitive with a .020-package.
Stanfield also defeated Monty Bogan and Logan Belanger before taking on Jeff Dona in the final. Stanfield once again matched his dial with a 9.872 while Dona broke out by six-thousandths of a second.
So, at this point, what does Stanfield have to do to lock up the title?
Honestly, not much. He’s got 692 points which historically is more than enough to take the top spot. He’s also got three chances to better his score including two national events where he can improve on a semifinal finish and one divisional race to better a quarterfinal. It’s worth noting that no one has ever scored 700 points and not won a title.
Joe Santangelo II, Jimmy DeFrank, Jody Lang, and Matt Morris are still in the running but they’d each need something close to a clean sweep of the remaining national and or divisional events in order to mount a challenge.