BELLE ROSE, La. (March 18) – For the last six years, the date of the JEGS NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals has been circled on the calendars of sportsman drag racers across the country. One of three sportsman events backed by JEGS Mail Order, the Cajun SPORTSnationals annually attracts a field of more than 500 competitors to No Problem Raceway Park in Belle Rose, La.

The event continues a longstanding tradition of NHRA SPORTSnationals events, where competitors in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series are the stars of the show. At the end of the action packed weekend, champions will be crowned in Competition Eliminator, Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, Super Street and the Sportsman Motorcycle class. The Belle Rose event also features open competition in Top Sportsman and Top Dragster, two relatively new classes that are becoming tremendously popular with racers and fans alike.

Since No Problem Raceway Park is located in the heart of the NHRA South Central Division, it is home to some of the sport’s best Competition Eliminator racers including defending JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals champ Kevin Self, runner-up Scott Benham, and former SPORTSnationals winner Craig Bourgeois. Bourgeois, who claimed back-to-back Belle Rose wins in 2006 and 2007, will again be one of the favorites with his front engine dragster, which competes in the A/Nostalgia Dragster class.

One driver to watch in Super Stock is Houma, La., native Joe Teuton Jr., who opened the 2009 season with back-to-back final round finishes at Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series events and was a finalist at the 2007 SPORTSnationals. In order to win his first SPORTSnationals title, Teuton, who drives a vintage Hemi-powered ’68 Barracuda, must first fend off a challenge from former national champions Dan Fletcher and Kevin Helms, and James Caro, who is fresh off a final round appearance at last weekend’s AC Delco Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.

In Stock Eliminator, the biggest threat comes from the Texas-based Emmons brothers; Harvey Jr., and his identical triplet brothers, Gary, Jerry, and Terry. The Emmons family has had great success just about everywhere including Belle Rose where Gary grabbed back-to-back wins in 2007 and 2007. Another driver who has had a lot of success in Belle Rose is Jeff Strickland, who has reached the final round in three of the last four years, winning the 2005 event in Stock and the 2008 race in Super Stock.

The world class racers that populate the heads-up classes; Super Comp, Super Gas, and Super Street are too numerous to mention but it is likely that 2008 Belle Rose winners Charles Roth, Craig Anderson, and Trevor Land will all be back to defend their titles. It is not uncommon for the three Super classes to attract 80 or more participants each, which means that there are seven rounds of competition before a champion is crowned.

Some of the most exciting racing in Belle Rose will undoubtedly be in the Top Sportsman and Top Dragster classes which feature highly competitive side-by-side racing at speeds of over 200-mph. Both classes feature 32-car qualified fields which often produce bump spots in the seven-second range and it is not uncommon for the top qualifiers in the Top Dragster class to flirt with the five-second zone. Team JEGS own Mike Coughlin will be a part of the Top Sportsman field with his Chevy Cobalt. Coughlin won the Super Comp title at the 2005 Belle Rose SPORTSnationals and later claimed back-to-back Top Sportsman titles at the JEGS NHRA Northern SPORTSnationals in Columbus, Ohio in 2006 and 2007.

As an added bonus, the 2009 Belle Rose champions will also be eligible for the JEGS Crown, a special trophy that is highly coveted by sportsman racers because it is extremely difficult to win. The only way to win the JEGS crown is by winning two of the three JEGS SPORTSnationals events in a given year. Since its inception in 2005, the JEGS Crown trophy has been claimed just once; by Pro Mod racer Mike Ashley.

As many racers have discovered, the on-track action is only part of the appeal of the JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals as No Problem Track Operator Pat Joffrion and his staff have worked tirelessly to create a fun-filled event. Among the many special features of the Belle Rose race is the popular Saturday night cookout that features local fare including crawfish and shrimp. No Problem Raceway Park also features a sports tavern located in the bottom floor of the timing tower which is a popular after hours hangout. As one racer aptly put it, “The SPORTSnationals isn’t so much a drag race as it is a party that happens to take place at a dragstrip.”

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