Thursday, June 13, 2024

Route 66 NHRA Nationals Sportsman Preview

CHICAGO – This week the NHRA traveling road show returns to Route 66 Raceway for the Route 66 NHRA Nationals. In addition to the national event, Lucas Oil sportsman racers will compete in the JEG’S Allstars event at Chicago.

The JEG’S Allstars is one of the premier sportsman events on the NHRA calendar. Racers earn points within their respective Divisions throughout the year to qualify for the event. Although racers compete individually, they earn points for their Division’s team.

Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series

The seven NHRA Divisions compete against one another to determine the overall team champion. Last season, the Division 4 group earned the team victory.

With the Allstars event held in conjunction with the national, the Route 66 Nationals attracts the best of the best in sportsman racing. Racers travel from all over the U.S. to compete at the highest level. Anyone lucky enough to win in Chicago leaves knowing they outlasted the toughest competition in their class.

The Route 66 NHRA Nationals will showcase 370 Lucas Oil sportsman racers competing in eight different classes. The schedule includes Competition Eliminator, Super Stock, Stock Eliminator, Super Comp, Super Gas, Super Street, Top Sportsman, and Top Dragster.

2019 Sportsman Schedule

The schedule for the Lucas Oil competitors includes a full day of qualifying and time trials on Thursday. Super Stock and Stock competitors will see three rounds of qualifying. The Super classes will receive three time trials while Top Sportsman and Top Dragster have two qualifying attempts.

Friday is race day as final eliminations begin at 8 am. Super Stock, Stock, and the Super Classes will run two rounds of eliminations before noon. Top Sportsman and Top Dragster racer will have one last qualifying shot before moving into first round later in the day.

Eliminations continue on Saturday morning with round three of Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, and Super Street. This is followed by round two of Top Sportsman, Top Dragster, and Comp Eliminator.

The JEG’S Allstars competition takes center stage Saturday afternoon. With three rounds of competition intertwined with the Pro Qualifying sessions, winners will be crowned Saturday evening.

Sunday finds final eliminations as each of the eight sportsman categories will complete the final three rounds to determine class champions.

2018 Route 66 Nationals Champions

Competition Eliminator – Michael Mans

Super Stock – Justin Lamb

Stock Eliminator – Jeff Adkinson

Super Comp – Austin Williams

Super Gas – Koy Collier

Super Street – Val Harmon

Top Sportsman – Don O’Neal

Top Dragster – Kyle Seipel

Route 66 NHRA Nationals Logo

2019 Route 66 NHRA Nationals Predictions

With each NHRA national event DragChamp’s sportsman preview includes an overview of each class. In addition, we select the DragChamp Picks to win the race. Here are this week’s picks.

Competition Eliminator – 34 Car Field

For perhaps the first time all season, excluding the Division 4 LODRS in Dallas, there will be a bump spot in Competition Eliminator. The field includes all but two of the 2018 National top ten finishers.

DragChamp pick to win:

Craig Bourgeois – I’m going to stay with the hot hand. Craig has been to the final round at every event he’s attended this year.

Super Stock – 58 Car Field

While the entry list in Super Stock includes all of the top names you’d expect, one name that’s missing is pretty surprising. Ricky Decker has been in three straight finals to start his season. This includes two wins in the last two weeks. Read more about Ricky’s success here.

DragChamp picks to win:

Justin Lamb – It’s hard to bet against the champ. He won Super Stock last year and was runner up in Stock. Could be more of the same this year.

Brad Zaskowski – BK gets it done with a stick-shift. That earns bonus points with me. Talented racer who’s due for another win.

Aaron Stanfield – The last time Aaron raced on an off weekend from Factory Stock Showdown, he won Atlanta. Look for more of the same from the talented driver and tuner.

Stock Eliminator – 60 Car Field

Like all of the classes, the Stock field is loaded. Top name drivers have descended on Route 66 Raceway from all corners of the country. Justin Lamb will try to improve on last year’s runner up while Jeff Adkinson looks to go back-to-back.

2018 Route 66 Stock Final
2018 Route 66 Stock Final

DragChamp picks to win:

Jeff Lopez – Talented D4 racer can drive the wheels off of anything. Always a threat to win.

Ryan Mangus – This guy is slowly becoming another Justin Lamb. He always seems to find himself in the final round.

Tyler Wudarczyk – Tyler makes rounds everywhere and tends to bring his A-game against top tier opponents.

Super Comp – 60 Car Field

I’m not even sure where to start in Super Comp. It seems I could pick anyone in the field and have a great chance. Ray Miller 3 has been red-hot in 2019 making finals everywhere. He’ll have tons of competition this week if he expects to extend his streak.

2018 Route 66 Super Comp Final
2018 Route 66 Super Comp Final

DragChamp picks to win:

Aaron Kinard – A-A-Ron made a monster run at the championship last season. Look for him to ride that momentum to a victory in Chi-town.

Bighead – Craig Anderson has traveled well this season, picking up the hardware at Arizona and made another final in Dallas. Should be a player this week in Joe Hessling’s APD digger.

Kyle Bigley – The D1 Super Comp champ needs a win on the big stage to solidify his rock star status. After dominating the D1 Lucas Oil circuit in 2018, Kyle is looking for bigger things in 2019. Read more on Kyle here.

Super Gas – 59 Car Field

As always, the 9.90 class is filled with heavy hitters. The talent in this week’s field is no exception. (Can you tell I raced Super Gas for 20 years?) World Champ Devin Isenhower will make his national event debut with the big bullseye on his scoop.

2018 Route 66 Super Gas final
2018 Route 66 Super Gas Final

Look for the out-of-division racers to make a run at the trophy this week, just a hunch.

DragChamp picks to win:

John Labbous – ‘Lil John has been killing it in the roadster this year. I expect more of the same on the big stage this weekend.

Jim “Rod” Capp – Jim Rod showed out at the D4 Moser Shootout in April. He’s been good everywhere he’s been too.

Ed Olpin Jr. – Utah racer makes finals out West on a consistent basis. He should be a player in Chi-town.

Super Street – 40 Car Field

Since Super Street is such a regional class, it’s usually difficult to nail down a winner. With all the top 10.90 racers in attendance, the Chicago picks may be a little easier than normal.

2018 Route 66 Super Street Final
2018 Route 66 Super Street Final

DragChamp picks to win:

Jonathan Anderson – This is an easy pick since all he does is win, win, win! Anderson is one of the most dominate 10.90 racers of the last few years.

Keith Mayers – I’ll take the Porsche for the W! Unique combination that wins consistently.

Top Sportsman – 34 Car Field

The story of the 2018 event was the Top Sportsman final between Lester Johnson and Don O’Neal. Don left first and turned it red. A race that was over at the tree until it wasn’t. Lester had a right front tire go down mid-run causing him to drift to the center line.

2018 route 66 Top Sportsman final
2018 route 66 Top Sportsman Final

After bringing his cool turbocharged ’55 Chevy to a stop on the track, Johnson was notified his header touched the 1,000′ cone. This resulted in a DQ handing the event win to O’Neal.

2018 route 66 Top Sportsman final downtrack
2018 route 66 Top Sportsman Final

With Johnson winning the JEG’S Allstars the day before, he was eligible for the double-up bonus. Ultimately he came within 320′ of collecting the bonus.

DragChamp picks to win:

JR Lobner – This should be a driver’s race and JR is one of the best in the class as evidenced by the #2 on his window.

Doug Crumlich – Already a two-time winner this season and looking for more. Crumlich won the Four Wide Nationals and the Fontana Lucas Oil event.

Top Dragster – 34 Car Field

Aaron Stanfield will look to improve on his runner up finish in 2018. He’ll face some tough competition from some of the best T/D racers in the country.

2018 Route 66 Top Dragster Final
2018 Route 66 Top Dragster Final

DragChamp picks to win:

Jeff Strickland – Jeff is a threat to win where ever he shows up.

Anthony Bertozzi – AB has been almost unstoppable in 2019. For example, his Top Dragster and Super Stock wins earlier this year came in back-to-back races.

Follow DragChamp daily for the latest news and drag race results from the Route 66 Nationals.

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