CHICAGO (June 24) — An incredible field of the best NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series drivers from across North America will converge at Route 66 Raceway this weekend for the 30th annual JEGS Allstars competition.
This year's field includes 79 drivers representing 33 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. The group will compete for individual and team honors and a share of more than $120,000 at stake during the event, which will once again be held in conjunction with the Route 66 NHRA Nationals. Of special note, each qualifier and the 10 champions will be rewarded a newly designed trophy handcrafted by master sculptor Dan Dreisbach of Naked Sculpture.
The JEGS Allstars competition is a unique event that crowns individual champions in 10 separate eliminators, in addition to an overall team champion. Racers qualify for the prestigious event by earning points in their home divisions during yearlong battles in the following NHRA Lucas Oil categories: Top Alcohol Dragster, Top Alcohol Funny Car, Comp, Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, Super Street, and the exciting Top Dragster and Top Sportsman classes.
In 2013, the host team from the NHRA North Central Division pummeled the competition for a record-breaking seventh overall team title. Led by Top Dragster racer James Monroe and Top Sportsman racer John Scali, the North Central team accumulated 1,300 points, finishing well ahead of the Southeast Division team, which scored 1,000 points.
As defending champions, Monroe and Scali will have the opportunity to return and defend their titles. They will be joined by fellow returning champions Bill Reichert (Top Alcohol Dragster), Dale Brand (Top Alcohol Funny Car), Mike DePalma (Comp), Mike Crutchfield (Super Stock), Sherman Adcock Jr. (Super Comp), Kevin Moore (Super Gas), and Casey Grubb (Super Street).
When NHRA announced two years ago that Top Alcohol competition would be divided among four regions rather than the traditional seven divisions, JEGS immediately devised a plan to keep the popular cars in the Allstars competition. As a result, Top Alcohol teams will compete for a special "regional" trophy, also designed by Dreisbach.
The Alcohol Dragster field is stacked with former world champions Reichert and Randy Meyer leading the way along with former Allstars winner Chris Demke and rising star Brandon Booher.
With 10-time Allstars winner Frank Manzo enjoying a well-deserved retirement, the Top Alcohol Funny Car title is once again wide open with current defending champ Brand facing a lineup that includes Clint Thompson, Dan Pomponio, and Todd Veney, three drivers currently ranked in the top 10.
The Northeast Division team is tied with the North Central team with seven overall wins and will be looking to break that tie against a team anchored by world champions Frank Aragona Jr. (Comp), Byron Worner (Super Stock), and Ray Sawyer (Super Gas).
Perennial Allstar Adcock will be the cornerstone of a very competitive Southeast Division team that also includes three-time world champion David Rampy (Comp) along with second-generation racers Robbie Shaw (Stock) and Ray Miller III (Top Dragster). The Southeast Division team has a long history of success in the JEGS Allstars competition, having won six overall titles in addition to their runner-up finish last season.
The defending champions from the North Central Division boast a stacked lineup that includes world champion Ray Connolly, Top Dragster specialist Marco Abruzzi, and Super Stock ace Jeff Dona.
A solid South Central Division team includes Slate Cummings, who is racing in two classes (Super Stock and Stock) for the third straight year, and Super Comp rep Austin Williams, who is perhaps the hottest Sportsman driver in the country this season. Past world champion Jimmy Lewis also gives the South Central Division team a hope of collecting another overall championship.
Amazingly, the West Central Division team has never won the JEGS Allstars overall title but has the manpower to do so this year as their impressive lineup includes world champs Bruno Massel Jr. (Comp), Gary Stinnett (Super Comp), and Phil Unruh, who is making his second straight appearance in the Top Dragster class.
The team from the Northwest Division has a lot to prove after scoring just 300 points in last year's competition. A repeat would be almost unthinkable because the 2014 team includes veteran Comp driver Ralph Van Paepeghem, Joe Sorensen (Super Stock), and Casey Plazier (Stock). Historically, the Northwest Division has won two overall JEGS Allstars team titles (1988 and 2005).
The squad from the Pacific Division, who claimed the 2012 overall title, will be looking to regain the top spot, and there is no reason to think it can't with a team that features reigning NHRA world champions Alan Ellis (Comp), Justin Lamb (Stock), and Rick Beckstrom (Super Gas).
The JEGS Allstars program has been a breeding ground for some of today's best-known Mello Yello Series Pros. Reigning Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. has been an Allstars representative for the North Central division six times, winning the Super Gas class twice. Other past Allstars participants include Top Fuel drivers Morgan Lucas (Top Alcohol Dragster, 2003 and 2004; won in 2003), current Top Fuel champion Shawn Langdon (Super Comp, 2005-07; won in 2005 and 2006), and Spencer Massey (Top Alcohol Dragster, 2007 and 2008; won in 2007) as well as Funny Car drivers Tim Wilkerson (Top Alcohol Funny Car, 1995) and Jack Beckman (Super Comp 2004 and 2005; runner-up in 2004).
While the JEGS Allstars is a highlight competitive event, camaraderie between racers and their crews is evident, especially during Friday evening's racer appreciation barbecue, which is open to all of the JEGS Allstars competitors, their families, and crews.