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Once a sportsman, always a sportsman

Bo Butner is currently preparing to defend his NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock championship but he is, and always will be, a sportsman racer at heart.
17 Jan 2018
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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Some would say that Bo Butner never forgot where he came from, but it’s more accurate to say he never actually left. For all his success in the Pro Stock class, including the 2017 Mello Yello championship, Butner considers himself to be a sportsman…
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Mounting a proper defense

For most Lucas Oil Series drivers, winning one national championship is a monumental career achievement and defending that title is normally far more difficult.
10 Jan 2018
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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For NHRA Lucas Oil Series racers, the 2018 season includes 25 national events and 44 divisional events from February through November so predicting a champion in mid-January is almost a pointless exercise. Almost. Despite the parity that…
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Full circle

Between his return to Super Stock and supporting his son, Aaron, former Pro Stock racer and four-time national champ Greg Stanfield has a lot on his plate
13 Dec 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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Heading into the 2017 season, Greg Stanfield wasn’t planning on doing much driving. A four-time Super Stock national champ turned Pro Stock racer, Stanfield was content to take a step back and support his son, Aaron, who has blossomed into one of…
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Close, but no regrets

Division 6 racer Chris Cannon missed out on the 2017 Lucas Oil Super Gas championship by just three points, but he’s not the least bit disappointed
06 Dec 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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Had he scored just three more points, one more win light in a long 10-month season, Chris Cannon would be celebrating the 2017 NHRA Lucas Oil Super Gas championship instead of pondering what might have been. After what was easily the best season of…
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Down to the wire

John Labbous Jr. became the final driver to clinch a Lucas Oil Series national championship when he earned the Super Gas title during a thrilling Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona
15 Nov 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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For Super Gas racers Chris Cannon and John Labbous Jr., the Auto Club NHRA Finals was anything but “just another race.” Labbous entered the final race of the season at the points leader, but his edge over Cannon in the standings was a precarious…
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One down, one to go

Justin Lamb uses a late-season rally to clinch the national championships in Super Stock and after a Las Vegas win, he’s closing in on the Stock title as well
01 Nov 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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Justin Lamb locked up the national championship in Super Stock a couple of weeks ago and he’s on the verge of adding the Stock title after a dominating win at last weekend’s Toyota NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas. Lamb drove his new Redback Boots…
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Dialing for Dollars

John Ezell, a down-to-earth 24-year-old racer known to his friends as Johnny Bracket Racer, earned a huge payday at last weekend’s Mickey Thompson Million.
25 Oct 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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By his own admission, John Ezell lives a lifestyle that is “nothing fancy,” which is to say that he prefers boots and jeans over expensive clothes, and the weekends that mean the most to him are the ones spent at the drag strip with his family.…
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Encore Performance

Division 4 aces Slate Cummings and Tommy Phillips back up their recent St. Louis wins with two more victories at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals in Dallas
18 Oct 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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Any sportsman racer will can attest that winning just one national event is difficult, but doubling up, or winning two races in two weeks borders on the impossible. Two racers who recently defied the odds are Slate Cummings and Tommy Phillips, who…
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Right place, right time

After losing last year's title by nine points, Austin Williams has a great shot at winning the Super Comp national championship after his win at Thunder Valley Raceway Park.
11 Oct 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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Like a last-second field goal or walk-off home run, the Super Comp victory at last weekend’s Division 4 Lucas Oil Series event at Thunder Valley Raceway Park in Nobile, Okla., was a game changer. Williams, the 2014 NHRA Stock national champ,…
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Full Nelson

Driving one of his own dragsters, Danny Nelson conquered the quickest field in the history of the Top Dragster presented by Racing RVs.com class in St. Louis.
04 Oct 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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The recently completed AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals featured a host of 3.6-second Top Fuel runs and the sport’s quickest Pro Mod field. The event also hosted the quickest 32-car field in Top Dragster presented by Racing RVs.com and…
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Tom Terrific

When opportunity knocked, Tom Martino didn't hesitate and returned from a long break to win his first Comp Eliminator title in Reading.
27 Sep 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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Four years after he made his last competitive run in the Pro Stock car and more than two decades after he left the Comp class, Tom Martino returned to take care of some unfinished business. Martino has five Pro Stock wins as a driver and many more…
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A pair of near misses

The NHRA Carolina Nationals had plenty of NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series sportsman racing drama, including near doubles by John Labbous Jr. and Todd Ewing and an epic Comp final between championship contenders.
20 Sep 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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I spend a fair amount of time in this column discussing and dissecting doubles since it seems like someone in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series wins two classes, or at least comes very close to it, at almost every event. The reality is that a…
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A final round for the ages

The Indy Stock final between Larry Gilley and Darrel Steiger was a heads-up, no-breakout battle between two of the most evenly matched cars in the grounds, and they did not disappoint
13 Sep 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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During Thursday’s Stock Class eliminations at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, more than 160 drivers from all over North America slugged it out for bragging rights and a coveted gold NHRA Wally trophy. A total of 39 individual class…
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Third time is the charm

Brad Plourd’s third Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals victory is easily the most unlikely, and perhaps the most rewarding, win of his career
06 Sep 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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Winning any Comp race is hard. Winning Comp at Indy, the sport’s oldest and most prestigious event, is even harder. Winning Comp at Indy in a supercharged, methanol-burning low-six-second ’23-T altered? That’s nearly impossible, at least until Brad…
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Ground Zero Camaro

Ben Wenzel’s ’67 Chevy Camaro Z-28 is more than just a race car, it’s a timeless piece of automotive history and its still going strong after a half-century as a Stock Eliminator car.
30 Aug 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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In 1967, Ben Wenzel walked into Martin Chevrolet in Hemlock, Mich. plunked down a then-hefty sum of $3,463.50 and drove off with a shiny new ’67 Z-28 Camaro, squealing the tires not long after leaving the parking lot. A half-century later, that…
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Making the big show, again

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Eric Bell fulfilled another lifelong ambition when he captured the Super Stock title at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
23 Aug 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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Every kid who has ever played Little League Baseball has dreamed of one day playing in the Major Leagues, but the reality is that few ever make it that far. Eric Bell is one exception. A native of Modesto, Calif., Bell was drafted in 1982 and…
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The Indy Before Indy

Last week’s North Central Division event at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis attracted more than 600 racers and provided a perfect warm-up for the upcoming Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals.
16 Aug 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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The Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals doesn’t start for two more weeks yet there were officially 634 racers on the grounds of Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis last weekend. The large gathering of Sportsman racers was made possible when the North…
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The three that got away

Justin Lamb went to three final rounds in two weeks and lost all of them, but it would be hard for him to not consider his Sonoma and Seattle trip a success
09 Aug 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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During a three-week swing that included the Division 7 Lucas Oil Series event in Sonoma, the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals, and the NHRA Northwest Nationals in Seattle, Justin Lamb competed in five events. His combined record for the five includes a…
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Family circle

After winning the Stock title at the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals, Brian McClanahan now joins his father and son as an NHRA national event winner.
02 Aug 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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As the son of former national champ Jerry McClanahan and the father of 2010 Super Stock national champ Ryan, Brian McClanahan has been to the winner’s circle many times at NHRA national events, but he didn’t have a Wally trophy to call his own until…
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Same time next year

Chris Whitfield pulled off a feat even more rare than a double when he earned back-to-back Super Comp titles at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals
26 Jul 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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The first half of the 2017 NHRA season featured five doubles at national events, but that remains a rare feat that has only occurred 38 times by 24 different drivers. In Denver, Kris Whitfield pulled off a feat that is even more rare when he won…
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Eight is not enough

Once again, the JEGS Allstars provided a perfect showcase for the best drivers in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series and the Division 3 team took him the title for the eighth time
19 Jul 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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There may be no such thing as a perfect race, but even if that’s the case, the JEGS Allstars event, heled each year at Route 66 Raceway, certainly comes close. Each year, 80 of the best racers in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series earn exclusive…
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Man of the Century

Sportsman great Dan Fletcher becomes just the third driver to win 100 NHRA national events after his Super Street victory at Route 66 Raceway
12 Jul 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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The Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by K&N Filters had a JEGS Allstars double, a traditional double, and a rare father-son final round, but all of them took a backseat to the most newsworthy event of the weekend: Dan Fletcher’s…
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Crème of the Krop

Rob Kropfeld’s Super Gas win at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals will be talked about for a long time, but it’s just one of many career highlights.
05 Jul 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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Although it may be factually correct, Rob Kropfeld doesn’t want to simply be known just as the guy who won his first Wally with an 11-second reaction time nor should he be. Kropfeld’s Super Gas victory in Norwalk was indeed his first in NHRA…
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Expect the unexpected

The Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals featured some of the wildest final rounds of the year in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
28 Jun 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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With a specific reference to the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals had a bit of everything and almost none of it was expected. Years from now, it might still be difficult to explain an event where two different…
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The best Father's Day, ever

With a win and a runner-up, Greg Stanfield and his son, Aaron, came within one round of having the perfect Father’s Day in Bristol.
21 Jun 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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Greg Stanfield got beat by first-time winner Marty Rinehart in the Bristol Super Stock final but the sting of losing was tempered by the Father’s Day gift he got from his son, Aaron, which happened to be the Bristol Top Dragster Wally. The younger…
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Three years running

Dan Northrop accomplished a feat even more rare than a national event double when he won his third-straight Englishtown title
14 Jun 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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A year ago, I used this space to write about how Dan Northrop went to Englishtown and successfully defended his 2015 Super Gas title. Northrop hadn’t raced with a throttle stop in a year but that didn’t stop him from defeating John Labbous Jr. in…
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Pouring it on

John Labbous Jr. wins his fourth Super Gas race of the season to take commanding points lead in his first trip to New England Dragway
07 Jun 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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In 1987, when “Super Steve” Cohen won NHRA’s first Super Comp national championhip, he won so early and so often that he had the title sewn up by mid-July. History might well repeat itself this season thanks to the incredible win streak that John…
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Sportsman's paradise

Last weekend's JEGS NHRA SPORTSnationals in Bowling Green, Ky., was a haven for NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series drivers, including four first-time winners.
31 May 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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Louisiana has long been known as the “Sportsman’s Paradise” or so it says on the official state license plates, but last weekend, that unofficial title may have shifted a bit north to Bowling Green, Ky., the site of the annual JEGS NHRA…
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The fifth dimension

Austin Williams accomplished an almost unheard of feat by winning the Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals for the fifth straight year
24 May 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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Thankfully for Austin Williams, Heartland Park Topeka is less than 500 miles from his home in Burleson, Texas, but even if the distance was twice that far, he’d still be happy to make the trip. It isn’t hard to understand why Williams might have a…
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Five shots, zero doubles

At the Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals in Atlanta, five drivers made it to the late rounds with a chance to double up. None of them were able to seal the deal in one of drag racing's most challenging feats.
10 May 2017
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
The Sports Report
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With two completed doubles and another near miss in the first six races of the 2017 season, it was temping to think that it was getting easier for a Sportsman driver to notch two wins in the same weekend. Not so fast. Yes, Ed Oplin opened the…
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