The curtain is about to drop on the 40th Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals, Atlanta Dragway’s final NHRA event, and it’s hard to land on which storyline is the best. There’s a lot going on here, and victory will mean a lot to whomever is fortunate and skilled enough to take it. We’ve pulled together a few notes ahead of Sunday’s action at this historic event.
Top Sportsman Semifinals
Sandy Wilkins vs. bye
Wilkins, a four-time division champion and the 2019 national champ, has won this race twice in Top Sportsman (2015 and 2017). Okay, Sandy. We see you. Overall, Wilkins has won four of the nine final rounds he’s participated in, all in Top Sportsman.
Dylan Stott vs. David Tatum III
The name David Tatum pops up on the scorecard five times in Southern Nationals final rounds. Tatum, the 2010 Super Gas world champion, won this race in 2005 in Super Gas. Stott hasn’t claimed victory here yet, but he was a runner-up here to Nick Folk in Top Dragster in 2012. In fact, Stott is more than likely quite hungry for a win. He’s been to four final rounds (three in Top Dragster and one in Top Sportsman) without cashing a ticket to the winner’s circle.
Top Alcohol Dragster Quarterfinals
Mick Steele vs. Rachel Meyer
Neither has a Southern Nationals win yet, but Rachel’s sister, Megan, was a finalist here in Top Alcohol Dragster in 2018. Rachel, the 2020 Central Region champion, has one national event win of her own in two final rounds in the category.
Jackie Fricke vs. Dan Dietrich
Neither has been to a final round here, but reigning East Region champion Fricke has four national event wins in eight final rounds.
Julie Nataas vs. Rich McPhillips
Rich McPhillips Jr. has yet to win a national event, unlike his father, five-time national event winner Rich McPhillips, a three-time regional/divisional champion in the Northeast claimed the trophy at this race in 2005. The 2019 North Central Region Lucas Oil champ, Nataas, is looking for her first Atlanta Dragway final round and a third TAD trophy.
Karen Stalba vs. bye
Stalba, the 2011 Division 1 Top Alcohol Dragster champion, was runner-up here in 2006 to Ashley Force (now Force Hood).
Top Alcohol Funny Car Semifinals
Tom Bogolo vs. Matt Gill
Neither have been to the final round at this race or any other national event. Bogolo is the 2017 North Central Region Top Alcohol Funny Car champion.
Bob McCosh vs. DJ Cox
This is a battle of division champions, folks! Defending Central Region Lucas Oil Series champion McCosh is looking to one-up his performance at the 2020 race in Las Vegas, where he was runner-up to Sean Bellemeur. The most recent final for reigning East Region champion Cox was at the 2021 Gatornationals in Gainesville, where he was also runner-up to that dang ol’ Bellemeur. Cox, a six-time finalist, won Top Alcohol Funny Car in Charlotte in 2016.
Super Gas Semifinals
Jonathan Anderson vs. Jeremy Mason
Neither have won this event or reached the final round here before, BUT…. Check this out: this semifinals meeting is a rematch between the two finalists at the 2018 JEGS SportsNationals in Bowling Green. Mason, the 2019 Super Gas Lucas Oil Series champion, won that one. Anderson has six wins in eight national event final rounds and has twice earned the Division 2 championship, both times in Super Street. Mason is a two-time finalist and has won both of them (he also claimed victory over Tim Gillespie in Super Gas at Norwalk in 2019).
Luke Bogacki vs. Jim Perry
Bogacki’s scorecard is certainly plump enough to make him a fearsome competitor – 14 wins in 21 final rounds at NHRA nationals and multiple division championships is certainly nothing to shake a stick at – and he has won this race twice in Super Comp: 2009 and 2017. He is the 2013 world champ in Super Comp and the 2014 series titlist in Super Gas. Opponent Perry, the 2009 Super Comp Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series world champion, comes into the semis with the idea of defending the title he won here the last time NHRA held a national event at Atlanta Dragway, though. And Perry, a two-time division champ, has six wins in 10 total final rounds in the Super classes. A round to watch, for sure.
Stock Eliminator Semifinals
Jeff Warren vs. Greg Rowe
Esteemed engine builder Warren was runner-up here in 2019 in Stock and was also a finalist at the Gatornationals in 1985. He’s on the opposite side of the ladder from Steve Foley, who just happens to be married to his daughter, Top Dragster standout Brooke. As for Rowe, he has two Atlanta Dragway wins – Super Stock in 2015 over David Rampy and Stock in 2014 over Jimmy Hidalgo – plus a win in Stock that he claimed in 1997 at Gainesville Raceway.
Steve Foley vs. Adam Davis
Davis, the 2016 Division 2 Stock champion, has two previous final rounds here – 2008 (runner-up to Lee Zane) and 2010 (runner-up to Anthony Fetch), both in Stock. In all, Davis has reached eight total final rounds in NHRA national event competition and has claimed four Stock Eliminator trophies. His most recent win was in Chicago in 2009, and he’s been to three finals since then without seeing the flash of that last win light. His most recent NHRA final was in Bristol in 2016. No final rounds here for Foley – yet. He has had a ton of success in his career as a bracket racer and has seen the winner’s circle at the division level, so keep watching. This round is gonna be fun.
Super Comp Semifinals
Chuck Trotter vs. Justin James
The win light here will send a driver to the final round for the first time.
Kent Hanley vs. Jenna Morehead
No final rounds here for either of these drivers, but Hanley (a three-time Division champion) has one previous final round at a national event; he was runner-up to Edmond Richardson at Bristol in 2003. He is also still in the hunt in Super Stock heading into Sunday.
Super Street Semifinals
Keith Mayers vs. bye
Mayers, the 2018 Division 1 Super Street champion, won here en route to that handsome title. He’s been to four Super Street final rounds in his career and has two wins (in addition to the Atlanta 2018 win, he also won Epping in 2015).
Kevin MacNicol vs. Tony Jones
MacNicol, the defending Division 2 Super Street Lucas Oil Series champion, has not yet been to a national event final. Neither has Jones, so we’ll see a first-time finalist emerge from this match.
Super Stock Semifinals
Michael Brand vs. Brett Candies
Brand is a six-time finalist with four wins on his scorecard, though he hasn’t reached the final yet in Atlanta. Division 4’s 2017 champ Candies has been to four previous national event finals in Stock, but he hasn’t yet sealed the deal.
Jeff Longhany vs. Kent Hanley
Longhany was runner-up here to David Rampy in 2017 in Super Stock. Hanley, a three-time Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series division champion, has not won in Atlanta but does have three national event wins – two in Super Comp (Epping 2013 and Englishtown 1998) and one in Super Stock (1994 Reading). Hanley is also still going rounds in Super Comp.