Chicagoland’s Jegs Route 66 Nationals continues it’s evolution to one of NHRA’s most reputed annual races….

The 21st edition event,  hosted at fabulous Route 66 Raceway near Joliet IL., featured a second straight victory of the season for one of Top Fuel’s most fan popular drivers – Clay Millican.

Robert Hight (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also winners in their respective categories at the ninth of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Millican piloted his Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster to 3.894-second pass at 289.32 mph to secure his third career win. He defeated Pat Dakin, Scott Palmer, Doug Kalitta and Leah Pritchett in the final round for his first career victory at Route 66 Raceway, the facility where Millican made his first career NHRA Top Fuel start in 1998.

“It took me 19 years to get that first (win), then less than a year to that second one and less than two weeks to get the third,” Millican said. “I like this trend. This place is really special and my team gave me such a good car. It wasn’t necessarily my best weekend, but it was certainly pretty cool to have the team pull together and just keep turning those win lights on.”

Popular Top Fuel driver Clay Millican earned his 3rd career NHRA event win.

With his second straight win, Millican moved to second in points behind No. 1 qualifier Steve Torrence, who was upset in the first round. Pritchett, who beat teammate Antron Brown, Kyle Wurtzel and Blake Anderson, climbed to third in the standings after her second final round appearance of 2018.

Robert Hight won his first race of the season in fuel FC.

Hight, the defending Funny Car world champion, powered his Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS to a pass of 4.073 at 310.63 to defeat 2016 world champion Ron Capps in the final round. Hight drove past Cruz Pedregon, points leader Courtney Force and Bob Tasca III to reach his fourth final round of the year. The victory was the first at Route 66 Raceway for Hight, a 42-time event winner.

“It was a great weekend,” Hight said. “We qualified 12th, which isn’t where you want to qualify, but when you have a team like this behind you, you never lose faith and you always believe in them. I always thought Chicago might have my number. This is my 14th time here and I had never won this race, but we finally got it done today and that’s big. As a driver, you want to win at every venue you go to, and there’s not a better place than Chicago.”

Capps defeated Jon Schriefer, Shawn Langdon and John Force en route to his first final round of the season and sixth at the facility. Courtney Force maintained her points lead over second-place Jack Beckman, while Hight moved to third.

Pro Stock’s Coughlin grabbed his 59th career victory and first since 2014 after going 6.574 at 210.67 in his Performance Chevrolet Camaro to beat No. 1 qualifier Greg Anderson in the final round. Coughlin, a five-time world champion, had gone 74 races since his last victory, but earned his sixth career win at Route 66 Raceway, the most for any NHRA driver.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to visit the winner’s circle quite a bit over the years and today is one of those days I won’t forget,” Coughlin said. “We’ve got an unbelievable team with Elite Motorsports and this year we’ve come onto a great stretch. I was aggressive and stayed consistent, my team gave me a great car and we were low E.T. four rounds in a row. I think we did it in grand style to break that ice.”

Jeg Coughlin ended a winning drought with a convincing win in Pro Stock

Coughlin beat Alex Laughlin, Matt Hartford and Tanner Gray to reach the final round. He also jumped to 10th in points, becoming the eighth different winner in Pro Stock through the first nine races of the season. Anderson, who was seeking his first win of 2018, grabbed the points lead over Vincent Nobile with his final-round berth.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, two-time world champion Smith earned his first victory of 2018 and 19th of his career with a run of 6.816 at 195.87 on his Victory Magnum in the final round. Smith bested Steve Johnson, Jim Underdahl, points leader and No. 1 qualifier Andrew Hines, and LE Tonglet in the final round to lock down his first career victory at Route 66 Raceway. Smith also moved to sixth in the points standings.

The Pro Stock Bike winner was Matt Smith

“We always run good here in Chicago and I knew we had a good bike,” Smith said. “We were the quickest bike every round and that’s just a testament to my crew. I’m just very excited. We were just trying to win a race and this was big for us.”

Jegs All-Stars Crowned!

Drag racing’s most prestigious annual date for it’s Lucas Oil level racers – the Jegs Sportsman All Stars event — was part of Saturday’s extensive event schedule.

The Goodguys from the NHRA South Central Division turned in a dominating performance to win the 34th annual JEGS Allstars overall team title.

The Division 4 crew built a sizable lead after five of their eight members advanced to the final round, and the knockout blow came early in the final rounds when third-generation star Aaron Stanfield claimed the Super Stock title over defending event winner James Antonette from Division 1. The final tally had the Division 4 team with 1,300 points to 1,000 for the defending overall champions from the host Division 3 team. In addition to their events winnings, each of the Division 4 members shared a $20,000 bonus. It was also the seventh time that the Division 4 team has won the title at the special event that brings together 80 of best Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series sportsman racers from across the country.

Alcohol Winners – The alcohol portion of the competition turned into a rout after Western Region racers Joey Severance and Shane Westerfield won in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car, respectively. Severance, who has won the last three national championships, earned his fifth-straight JEGS Allstars crown with a 5.249 to 5.326 win over James Stevens. Westerfield used a starting line holeshot to take out Doug Gordon, 5.522 to 5.518. Westerfield and Gordon finished first and second in last year’s Top Alcohol Funny Car points standings.

Shane Westerfield (TAFC) and Joey Severence (TAD) both had masterful event winnings. The defending NHRA Lucas Oil World Champions each “doubled up” with wins on Saturday and Sunday!

AllStar Winners – Stanfield drove his Camaro to the Super Stock title after Antonette red-lighted in the final round. Last year, Stanfield won the Route 66 Nationals title when he defeated his father, Greg, in the final round.

The Comp title went to Frank Aragona Jr. of the Division 1 team when he outran Division 4’s Craig Bourgeois in a battle of past national champions. Arangona won with a (-.627) 7.353 to a (-.487) 6.913.

Ryan Mangus, racing for the Division 7 team, won the Stock title when he defeated Division 6 racer Joe Sorensen. Mangus, driving Jeg Coughlin Jr.’s DragPak Challenger, picked up his first JEGS Allstars win after Sorensen red-lighted in his ’69 Camaro.

Ryan Mangus drove the Dragpak to victory in the Jegs All Stars Stock eliminator category.

Division 1 racer Mike Robilotto was nearly perfect in the Super Comp final with a .009 reaction time and an 8.901 on the 8.90 index to close out two-time national champion Austin Williams of Division 4. Williams ran an 8.921 for the loss.

As the defending event champion in Super Gas, Canadian Ken Mostowich was entered as the blocker for Division 7 but he was moved to the Division representative Randy Bowers broke before the first round of eliminations. Mostowich made the most of the opportunity and went on to defeat Jack Collier, 9.903 to a 9.879 breakout.

The host team from Division 3 also scored in Super Street after Phil Smida drove to a narrow 10.909 to 10.912 win against Division 1 racer Don Garbinski in the final round.

The Jegs All Stars S/ST winner was Phil Smile’s Chevy Cavalier

Lester Johnson’s ’55 Chevy was the quickest car in the Top Sportsman field and he closed the deal with a perfect 6.173 on his 6.17 dial to stop Division 4 racer Bob Gulitti, who broke out by a hundredth of a second with a 6.560 on his 6.57 dial. Johnson, like the rest of the champions, will be eligible to return next year as a blocker for the JEGS Allstars race.

The final champion crowned was two-time national champion Jeff Strickland of Division 2, who beat reigning national champ Lynn Ellison of Division 3 in the final round. Strickland ran a 6.501 on his 6.49 dial for the win after Ellison broke out with a 6.438 on his 6.44 dial.

Super skilled driver Jeff Strickland won in Jegs Top Dragster

The Lucas Oil Lowdown

Joey Severance and Shane Westerfield raced to victories at both the JEGS Route 66 NHRA Nationals on Sunday and the JEGS Allstars on Saturday earning the JEGS Double Up Bonus.

Severance, out of Woodburn, Ore., quickly disbursed of Dan Page’s holeshot, then continued to pull away posting a 5.249 second win at 275.06 mph to capture the Top Alcohol Dragster trophy. Pager clocked in at 5.347, 263.51. Severance also collected the JEGS bonus for the weekend double-up having beat out James Stevens in Saturday’s JEGS Allstars competition.

Westerfield also grabbed the JEGS Double-Up Bonus when he defeated Kris Hool in the Top Alcohol Funny Car final on Sunday with a lap of 5.470, 271.73. The win was his ninth, and third of the 2018 season. He knocked out Doug Gordon on a holeshot in Saturday’s Allstar final round for the first half of the double.

Defending NHRA Lucas Oil World Champion Justin Lamb win in Super Stock.

Justin Lamb and Koy Collier just missed the Sunday double in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series having advanced to the final round in two classes. Lamb first met up with Jeff Adkinson in Stock but left early with a red-light giving Adkinson his third NHRA national event career win. Adkinson, Damacus, Ga., drove his ’69 Camaro to a 10.055, 126.85 mph win. Lamb returned to the starting line to face off with David Dupps in Super Stock where he would not be denied, taking the early lead and the win for his 22nd of his career.

Jeff Atkinson won the Stock eliminator winner on Sunday with his high flying A/SA Chevy Camaro

Collier was also a little to anxious in his Super Comp final with Austin Williams as he went red by .009 seconds handing Williams, Waxahachie, Texas, his 13th win. Collier, Benton, La., then chased down Larry Bernshausen for the win in Super Gas. Bernshausen was out front early but broke out with Collier charging fast as the finish line. Collier went 9.898 at 163.49 to Bernshausen’s 9.878, 147.88.

Lousiana’s Steve Collier won in Super Gas (9.90)

Lester Johnson was coming off a JEGS Allstar win from Saturday and raced through the Top Sportsman presented by Racing RV’s field to battle Don O’Neal in Sunday’s final. O’Neal left a tick too quick but then Johnson got loose and crossed the centerline for a disqualification. The win was number two for O’Neal.

Top Sportsman went to Don O’Neal who prevailed for the second time this season.

In one of the closest final rounds of the day Kyle Seipel held off Aaron Stanfield in the Top Dragster presented by Racing RV’s. Seipel’s 6.728 second lap at 203.77 beat out Stanfield’s 6.190, 219.40 by about 12 inches as Seipel took a .001 second reaction time lead and was better at the strip by just .002 seconds for his 12th career win.

The Competition eliminator title went to Minnesota’s Mike Mans

Joining in on the winner’s circle celebration was Mike Mans in Comp Eliminator and Val Harmon in Super Street. Mans, Rogers, Minn., took a big lead off the start against Greg Kamplain and held on for his first win in Comp to go along with his three in Super Stock. Harmon, Boutte, La., was better at both ends of the track in out running Cole Cummings, Hammond, La., in Super Street.

Posted with files by NHRA Communications and Bruce Biegler
All Photos by Bruce Biegler

To view DragRaceCanada’s very extensive photo gallery from the Jegs Route 66 Nationals – click HERE