JOLIET, Ill. (May 27) – For the thousands of racers who compete in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing series, the only thing better than qualifying for the JEGS Allstars team is winning a JEGS Allstars title, and that will be the goal of the 80 racers from across North America who are headed for Route 66 Raceway for the specialty event, which will be held on Saturday June, 5, during the NHRA United Association Route 66 Nationals.
Launched more than a quarter-century ago at Beech Bend Raceway in Bowling Green, Ky., and more recently moved to Joliet, the JEGS Allstars is an annual competition where drivers from each of NHRA’s seven geographic regions compete for individual and team honors. Racers can only qualify for the event by earning points in their home divisions during a yearlong battle in the following NHRA Lucas Oil Series categories; Top Alcohol Dragster, Top Alcohol Funny Car, Competition, Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, and Super Street. New this year, a pair of exciting new classes, Top Dragster and Top Sportsman, have been added to the mix, expanding the field to from 64 to 80 drivers. At the end of the competition, the overall winning team will share in a $20,000 bonus out of a total purse of more than $100,000.
Last year, the host team from the North Central Division (Division 3) won the overall team title for the sixth time, using a late rally to stave off the Northeast Division crew. With a roster that includes Ken Perry in Top Alcohol Dragster, Andy Bohl in Top Alcohol Funny Car and reigning NHRA national champion Ray Connolly in Super Gas, the North Central team once again figures to be a force to be reckoned with heading into the 2010 JEGS Allstars.
The Northeast Division (Division 1) team will also be looking a measure of revenge and its seventh overall team title and with 13-time Top Alcohol Funny Car champion Frank Manzo and former NHRA Comp champ Frank Aragona Jr., leading the way, they will once again be among the favorites. The Northeast Division squad also includes John Finke in Top Alcohol Dragster and recent Gatornationals winner Joe Santangelo, who will be racing in Super Stock.
Top Alcohol Dragster racer Duane Shields, who drove to victory at the most recent NHRA national event in Topeka, will be the cornerstone of a very competitive Southeast Division (Division 2) team that also features Mickey Ferro (Top Alcohol Funny Car) Arnie Martel (Comp) and 19-year old Ray Miller III, who will be doing double duty as a JEGS Allstars representative in Super Comp and Top Dragster. The Southeast Division team has a long history of success in the JEGS Allstars competition, having won six overall titles of their own.
The South Central Division (Division 4) has claimed five overall titles including the most recent one in 2003. The team that is headed for this weekend’s event in Joliet is formidable as it will include Malcom Whale (Top Alcohol Dragster), Burl Brown (Top Alcohol Funny Car), Adam Hickey (Comp), and veteran Gary Emmons (Super Stock).
Amazingly, the West Central Division (Division 5) team has never won a JEGS Allstars title but that could change this year as their roster includes Ed Schmeeckle (Top Alcohol Dragster), Roger Bateman (Top Alcohol Funny Car) and Matt Harris (Comp), as well as newcomers Josh Vettel and Clarence Mayo, who will be the team representative in Top Sportsman and Top Dragster, respectively.
The team from the Northwest Division (Division 6) team will be looking to rebound after a disappointing finish in 2009. This year, their hopes will be pinned to Shawn Cowie in Top Alcohol Dragster, Ken Webster in Top Alcohol Funny Car and former U.S. Nationals winner Doug Lambeck in Comp Eliminator. The Division 6 team also features the only female driver in the field, Jackie Alley, who has earned her spot in the Super Stock class. Historically, the Northwest Division has won two overall JEGS Allstars titles (1988 and 2005).
The squad from the Pacific Division (Division 7) is also looking for its first overall team title and this year’s line-up offers perhaps the best chance for a victory. Jim Whiteley (Top Alcohol Dragster) and Steve Gasparrelli (Top Alcohol Funny Car) will be joined by past national event winner Mike Depalma in Comp and Val Torres Jr., who finished the 2009 season as NHRA’s fourth-ranked Super Gas driver.
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. The barbecue is scheduled for 8 p.m., at the conclusion of Friday evening’s Pro Stock qualifying session at Route 66 Raceway.


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