NHRA’s Route 66 Nationals has risen to become one of the top echelon annual events….

The 2019 edition and 22nd annual event featured a big win by Tommy Johnson Jr. piloted his Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car to victory. For the DSR team driver, that was his first win since the Auto Club NHRA Finals in 2017 and it was in fact an explosive finale for the event.

Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Deric Kramer (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also Pro winners in their respective categories at NHRA race 9/24 for the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

Johnson experienced an engine explosion just before crossing the finish line with a pass of 4.175-seconds at 229.86 mph. He defeated Robert Hight’s 4.438 at 202.55 to secure his 16th Funny Car win and second at Route 66 Raceway. On his way to victory he secured round wins against Paul Lee, teammate Matt Hagan and John Force.

Tommy Johnson’s win at Joliet was the 16th of his NHRA Funny Car career

“It felt good coming here,” said Johnson. “This is a track where we’ve had a lot of success. I think we’ve been in the finals four out of the last six years here. I’m not superstitious, but the way the weekend went, things just kept pointing to it. I felt good about it. I went up there for the final and really wasn’t even nervous.”

Hight defeated Jim Campbell, Cruz Pedregon and Jack Beckman before facing Johnson in the finals.

Steve Torrence drove his Capco Contractors dragster to a fourth consecutive victory this season defeating Mike Salinas with a pass of 3.763 at 326.32 in the finals. He defeated Terry McMillen, Richie Crampton and Antron Brown en route to his 31st career win in Top Fuel and second at Route 66 Raceway.

“These are the kind of conditions that we really do well in,” said Torrence. “(Crew Chiefs) Richard (Hogan) and Bobby (Lagana) excel in track conditions that are not the best. This place is great, but it was hot; it was humid. It was a little tricky to navigate and they did an exceptional job. I’ve got a really good team, a really great group of guys. I know I say it time and time again, but they really are the reason for the success that we have.”

Defending World Champ Steve Torrence has now gone undefeated 16 rounds in a row in NHRA Top Fuel racing.

Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier Salinas beat Scott Palmer, TJ Zizzo and Doug Kalitta to reach the finals.

In Pro Stock, Kramer powered his American Ethanol  Chevrolet Camaro to his first win of the season and third of his career when his pass of 6.532 at 210.70 defeated Erica Enders as she turned on the red light in the final round. He is only the third different winner in Pro Stock so far this season.

Racing his ever improving American Ethanol sponsored Chevy Camaro — Deric Kramer – was the Pro Stock winner at Chicago.

Kramer also turned on the win light against Rodger Brogdon, Matt Hartford and Alex Laughlin before facing Enders in the finals.

“It came down to not making any mistakes,” said Kramer. “That’s been our detriment basically ever since Brainerd last year. In Indy, through the countdown and even at the start of this year, we had more little mistakes. When you make mistakes, in this class, it’s so close, that you just can’t win.”

Enders defeated Val Smeland, team owner Richard Freeman and Greg Anderson.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, M. Smith became the third different category winner in the 2019 season with his run of 6.807 at 198.88 on his Elite Performance/DENSO Auto Parts/Stockseth EBR. He overcame Karen Stoffer’s .002 reaction time and run of 6.885 at 193.71 for his first win of the season.

Defending World Champ Matt Smith dominated in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

“Our Red Rocket showed up,” said M. Smith. “This DENSO Spark Plugs motorcycle was on kill today. We made a little blooper second round and slowed up just a little bit, but all in all, we were the quickest bike every round today. I can’t say enough about my guys, my crew, Angie, everybody who helps us. We had a good day.”

M. Smith beat Steve Johnson (in a bye run), Angelle Sampey and his wife, Angie Smith, to secure his second consecutive win at Route 66 Raceway. Stoffer defeated Ryan Oehler, No. 1 qualifier Eddie Krawiec and Hector Arana, Jr. on the way to her first final round since 2015.

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues to the Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties at Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kan. June 7-9.

The Lucas Oil Lowdown

Action was once again ferocious and relentless as NHRA’s backbone field of Lucas Oil level drag racers took to the track all weekend.

The Top Alcohol titles went to a couple of marquee names – both from the state of California. Chris Demke and Shane Westerfield – both former NHRA Lucas Oil World Champions – emerged with event titles.

Californian’s Shane Westerfield and Chris Demke won the Top Alcohol titles at Route 66 Raceway.

Demke won the TAD title when he roared to a final round 5.265 secs at 275.39 mph in his supercharged Pennrite-sponsored dragster to defeat current points leader Megan Meyer who slowed to a 5.594 secs 265.17 mph. Demke’s win was his 3rd at Route 66 Raceway and the 20th of his NHRA career.

Westerfield won the event for the second consecutive year in TAFC. In an all Chevy Camaro final he racing his car past
Doug Gordon winning with a time of 5.460 secs at 270.81 mph.

Greg Kamplain raced his C/DA dragster to the Comp title — his 8th in NHRA racing. Kamplain topped Van Puckett’s F/AA Chevy Cavalier in the championship round.

Vic Penrod won in Super Stock with his SS/CA Chevy Camaro and it was Randi Lynn Shipp prevailing is Stock with her high flying ’68 Firebird D/SA – winning over Jeff Lopez’s Camaro.

Vic Penrod won his 2nd career NHRA title in Super Stock.

Randi Lyn Shipp won for the 7th time in Stock with her meticulous Firebird.

The event’s index class title went to Dave Dahlem (Super Comp 8.90), Nathan Vrooman (Super Gas 9.90) and Rodger Sauder Plymouth Barradua took Super Street 10.90.

Racing RV’s.com presented the TD and TS classes which saw wins go to Jim Prevo (his first Top Dragster national event title) and to Lester Johnson’s very fast pro-charger powered ’55 Chevy in Top Sportsman. Johnson’s win came from the #2 qualified position.

Lester Johnson’s wicked fast ’55 Chevy – prevailed in Top Sportsman.

JEGS Allstars – Successful Title Defence

In an outstanding example of teamwork, the crew from NHRA’s South Central Division earned the $20,000 bonus in the JEGS Allstars competition by putting four of their eight members into the winner’s circle Saturday at Route 66 Raceway. It was the second-straight team championship for Division 4 and their eighth overall, tying the record previously held by the North Central Division team.

Based on a scoring system of 100 points-per-round win, the Division 4 team racked up 1,200 points to hold off Division 2, which earned 1,000 points, and the third-place team from Division 1, which earned 900 points.

The drivers who carried the load for Division 4 included Stock winner Jeff Lopez, Super Comp winner Christopher Dodd, Super Street winner Cy Hill and Top Dragster champion Darien Boesch. The rest of the winners included two-time world champ and Division 1 racer Frank Aragona Jr. in Comp, Division 3’s Jeff Dona in Super Stock, Division 2’s John Labbous Jr. in Super Gas and Division 3’s Kynon Dinkel in Top Sportsman.

The alcohol portion of the JEGS Allstars race went to the Central Region team in a tie-breaker over the West Region team. Ray Drew scored the deciding win in Top Alcohol Funny Car while Top Alcohol Dragster winner Joey Severance was the star for the West Region team.

Ray Drew raced his Ford Mustang to his first Jeg All-Stars TAFC title.

Heading into the trophy rounds, the battle was close between Divisions 1, 2 and 4. But the drama was short-lived after the Division 4 team went a perfect four-for-four in final rounds.

Lopez was first up in a crucial Stock final against Jeff Hairrington of the Division 2 team, where he drove his COPO Camaro to the win over Hairrington’s Mustang by less than a hundred of a second. Next up was the Super Street final where Hill scored a narrow 10.92 to 10.93 win against Division 1 racer Keith Mayers. The deciding run came in the next pair when Dodd defeated Division 2 racer Ray Miller III in an impossibly-close Super Comp final. Dodd won with an 8.908, crossing the finish line just .0002 seconds ahead of Miller. With the title secured, Boesch felt no pressure when he drove past Division 7 racer Ed Olpin to win the Top Dragster title.

Jeff Dona wheeled his high flying Pontiac to the Jegs Allstars Super Stock title.

NHRA announcer Lewis “Statman” Bloom did a great job as emcee of the Friday night party.

Aragona Jr. added to his impressive list of achievements when he stopped fellow Division 1 racer Doug Doll in the final of Comp Eliminator. Defending JEGS Allstars champion Aaron Stanfield had a perfect reaction time in the Super Stock final but it wasn’t enough to take out Division 3 racer Jeff Dona, who had a .005 light of his own in a double-breakout affair.

A pair of past world champions tangled in the Super Gas final with Labbous Jr. getting the best of Iggie Boiscesco in a 9.89 to 9.88 double breakout. In Top Sportsman, Dinkel joined Division 3 teammate Dona in the winner’s circle after defeating 2018 Allstars champ Lester Johnson in the final. Dinkel ran right on his 6.48 dial-in to take the win after Johnson broke out with a 6.38 on his 6.44 dial.

In Jegs Allstars Comp — it was Frank Aragona Jr. emerging the winner.

Joey Severance won the Top Alcohol Dragster crown at the JEGS Allstars for the fourth time when he stopped first-time finalist Rachel Meyer, 5.31 to 5.34. Meyer left the starting line first but came up just a thousandth of a second short at the finish line. Drew clinched the alcohol title for the Central Region when he drove his Mustang to a 5.50 to 5.59 win over Chris Marshall in the Top Alcohol Funny Car final.

2X defending World Champion Joey Severance scored in Jegs Allstars TAD

2019 JEGS Allstars Team Championship Final Standings

Division 4 1,200
Division 2 1,000
Division 1 900
Division 3 600
Division 7 500
Division 5 200
Division 6 200

Division 3’s Kynon Dinkel won in Jegs TS with his awesome Chevy Cavalier

About JEGS Automotive, Inc. — JEGS Automotive, Inc. (JEGS) is one of the largest e-commerce and mail order high-performance auto parts retailers worldwide. Founded in 1960 by racing legend Jeg Coughlin Sr., JEGS remains family-owned to this day and offers more than 1 million SKUs available for purchase. The JEGS corporate headquarters is located in Delaware, Ohio, and is home to a 225,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center, two state-of-the-art call centers, the Coughlin Family classic car and truck collection, the Team JEGS racing research and development facility and The JEGS Foundation.

For more information, call (800) 345-4545 or visit us at www.JEGS.com

About Team JEGS – Team JEGS is the official racing team of JEGS Automotive, Inc. (JEGS), and is fueled by the legacy of one of racing’s most winningest families, the Coughlin Family. Led by JEGS founder and International Drag Racing Hall of Fame Inductee Jeg Coughlin Sr. and his four eldest sons, John, Troy Sr., Mike and Jeg Jr., Team JEGS has claimed nine National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) World Championships, 17 divisional championships and 122 NHRA national event victories. Meet Team JEGS, follow the Team JEGS race schedule and results, and learn more about racing by visiting www.TeamJEGS.com

Posted with files by NHRA, Scott Woodruff and Bruce Biegler
All photos by Bruce Biegler

….And of course what would a trip to Chicagoland be without a very late night rendezvous at Portillo’s Hot Dogs?

To link to DragRaceCanada’s Route 66 Nationals event photo gallery visit our LMLCMedia presentation : HERE