It was an action packed one day event at Sydney Dragway last Saturday, for Gary Phillips and his Lucas Oils team. A recent change in the scheduling of the Nitro Champs, saw Gary compete in both the Pro Alcohol and Pro Slammer categories, and complete 8 runs in just one day, a feat not possible without the reliability of Lucas Oil Products.
“It was exhausting, but the results speak for themselves. I’m really proud of what our whole team accomplished, and to come away with the win in Pro Alcohol and the points lead is just fantastic”, Gary said.
From the very first qualifying run, Gary stamped his authority on the Pro Alcohol field with an off-the-trailer run of 5.636 at 262.90mph, in extremely smoky conditions that saw the Sydney Dragway quarter-mile blanketed with the remnants of control burning in the nearby mountains.
For the second qualifying session, Gary laid down the gauntlet with an impressive 5.407 second pass at 264.65mph.
“To be honest, it was the smallest tweak between the first qualifying run and the second, that cured the tyre shake and the need to pedal the car, to produce that 5.40. To out-qualify the #2 position by 0.26-seconds, is rarely heard of these days, and really shows the determination this Lucas Oils team has”.
Gary advanced through the first 2 rounds of eliminations to make the final against Robert Ambruosi, which saw extremely dewy conditions, coupled with a cold track temperature. This didn’t deter Gary from having a reaction time of .059, and winning the event as well as equalling his top qualifying effort of 5.407 seconds, this time at 265.27mph.
“We went into the final with a slightly backed down tune up, but still had to remain somewhat aggressive to prevent tyre shake. It was on the edge the whole run, with excessive tyre spin from the dewy conditions, and it was all over the track and far from a perfect run. A lot of people were stunned to see that number come up on the scoreboard at that time of night, but once it made it through low gear with the front wheels up, I knew it would be quick”.
Gary ran the table in Pro Alcohol, and claimed every single point available on the day, by qualifying #1, setting low elapsed time and top speed of the event, and claiming the win. In addition, he also reset the Sydney Dragway track record to 5.407 seconds.
Also returning to competition was the Lucas Oils 1953 Studebaker Pro Slammer, which qualified in the #8 position with a 6.166, before falling in the first round to eventual runner up, John Zappia.
“We were trying a few different ideas in the Studebaker this weekend, so the results weren’t our usual 5-second performances. It was kind of disappointing not to be able to make a run free of tyre shake, however we were finally able to lower our sixty-foot times, back down into the .99 second range, which we have been trying to achieve for quite a while”.
“This will be the eighth and final event for the season, which has seen Australia’s elite racers compete all around the country, and to be leading the points chase this close to the end is great. We are excited to be a part of this series, and are really looking forward to our home event”.
With the impressive points haul in the Lucas Oils Funny Car, Gary has catapulted into the lead of the 400 Thunder Pro Alcohol Australian Championship, with just one event remaining.
The Winternationals at Willowbank Raceway, on June 9-12, is the largest drag racing event held outside of the USA. Details can be found here.
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