Orlando Preview: Sportsman Lead the Way for NHRA into 2021

If you’re feeling like this is the winter that just won’t end, cheer up. The Sunshine State will welcome NHRA Sportsman racers for the annual Winter Warm-Up at Orlando Speed World Dragway in just a handful of days. The event will take place Feb. 4-6 and mark the beginning of a gloriously packed schedule of drag racing for the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series crowd.

The NHRA Southeast Division 2 event is the first of 46 for the Lucas Oil racers on the 2021 schedule, which should allow plenty of opportunity for racers to gather points towards divisional and national championships in their respective categories.

This weekend’s event is also one of just three races remaining to earn points towards the 2021 JEGS Allstars; it all comes down to this race and those at South Georgia Motorsports Park Feb. 18-20 and Gainesville (the Baby Gators) March 4-7.

Florida offers so much in terms of good racing, but one of the really cool things about this particular track is the history. Orlando Speed World Dragway is one of the oldest continuously operating dragstrips in Florida. Although the vibrant green paint on the walls is fairly fresh, the feel of the facility is historic. You drive through the gates and know the place has seen something spectacular.

The facility first opened in February of 1966 as Central Florida Dragway and has been hosting racing action since. Bonus: the quarter-mile dragstrip has an elevation of just 106 feet, nearly sea level, so it has the potential to be super-fast.

Thursday of the Winter Warm-Up is earmarked for parking, tech and registration, and test and tune. Time trials and qualifying begin on Friday at 9:00 a.m. EST for the big cars, with the Jr. drag racers closing out the day. Saturday’s on-track action begins at 9:00 a.m., and Super Street will lead off round-one eliminations.

Oh! One last cool thing before we hit send on this. The Winter Warm-Up at Orlando Speed World Dragway is to be shown on NHRA.tv at no charge to the viewer. Sign up for a free account on the NHRA.tv website and enjoy the race.

That’s our plan, too!

Scroll down to see who won the event in 2020, along with a handful of notes on how the strong start impacted their respective seasons.

Here’s who won the NHRA Southeast Division 2 Winter Warm-Up at Orlando Speed World Dragway in 2020:

Photo: NHRA

Comp Eliminator
Randy Daniels def. Doug Engels

Notable: Engels would go on to finish No. 2 in the Comp Eliminator national points and win the Division 5 championship

Super Stock
Mark Nowicki def. Mike Crutchfield

Notable: Nowicki’s strong start contributed to a top 10 finish (No. 9) in the national standings and the Division 3 championship; three-time Division 2 champion Crutchfield landed just outside the national Top 10 in the No. 11 spot

Terry Hembree def. Mark Lewis

Super Comp
Rusty Cook def. John Labbous Jr.

Notable: Labbous finished No. 8 in the national Super Comp points that year (and No. 7 in Super Gas)

Super Gas
Jerry Heffelfinger def. Rusty Cook

Notable: Cook, who nearly doubled at the event with a win in Super Comp and a runner-up in Super Gas, was No. 6 in the national Super Gas points at seasons-end.

Super Street
Scott Mackie def. Kevin MacNicol

Notable: MacNicol won the 2020 Super Street Division 2 championship

Top Dragster
Stanley Albritton def. Matthew Buck

Top Sportsman
Jackie Robison def. Derrick Brown

Novice Jr. Dragster
Tyler Nunez def. Victoria Beaner

Intermediate Jr. Dragster
Hailey Peterson def. Cooper Hancock

Advanced Jr. Dragster
Kimberly Vanlica def. Jackson Earwood

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