Don O’Neal is undoubtedly holding back mixed emotions, but the two-time NHRA national event winner is focused on an important task this weekend. He’s at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk to “#DoItForDi” and pursue the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals Top Sportsman trophy in honor of his wife, Diane O’Neal, who lost her battle with melanoma cancer two months ago.
“We have angels riding with us,” said O’Neal on Thursday morning before the day’s expected two rounds of qualifying.
O’Neal had planned to return to NHRA national event competition in Charlotte last month with his 2017 Chevrolet Camaro, but mechanical gremlins kept him home from his sponsor’s race, the NGK NTK NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. That setback only served to fuel the fire for O’Neal as he worked to get things sorted and return to the racetrack, where both O’Neal and his bride had both felt right at home.
O’Neal will compete this weekend with a Magnuson supercharged Chevrolet 427 LS engine prepared by Oakley Engine Performance in Norwalk, and the bright branding on the door of his Camaro represents the Litens High-Performance LS tensioning kit that O’Neal has been testing for the past year. VP Racing Fuels, NGK spark plugs, and NTK sensors will round out what he believes is a strong combination.
Ever the marketing enthusiast who is all about shining a light on those who contribute to drag racing, O’Neal is proudly fueled by NOS Energy Drink and Oh Snap Pickles as he seeks the third national event win of his career. O’Neal finished in the Top 10 in Top Sportsman points in both 2017 and 2018, and his first final round was at the prestigious U.S. Nationals in Super Comp in 2010. In addition to his victory in Charlotte, he also won Top Sportsman in Chicago in 2018.