Let’s just be honest and say it up front. Domination was the buzzword for Chevrolet racers following the conclusion of the annual Jegs Route 66 NHRA Nationals. Held at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois, just south of Chicago, this event is widely regarded as one of the premier stops on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season calendar.
The event’s Bowtie brand winning percentage was nothing short of amazing. While Robert Hight’s win in Funny Car and Jeg Coughlin Jr.’s win in Pro Stock, both driving Camaros, might have grabbed the media headlines, it was the grassroots Chevrolet drivers that collected most of the event’s hardware.
The event’s Lucas Oil class categories featured no less than five different winners in Chevy-bodied cars, highlighted by yet another win by defending NHRA World Champion Shane Westerfield’s Camaro in Top Alcohol Funny Car (TAFC). Shane was simply unstoppable at the event. Not only did he win the race—setting both low elapsed time (5.414 seconds) and top speed (273.66 mph)—he also doubled-up this weekend after winning the prestigious annual Jegs All Stars TAFC crown during Saturday’s event schedule portion.
Sunday’s Lucas Oil event titles also included Justin Lamb’s 2017 NHRA World Championship-winning SS/AM Cobalt in Super Stock and Jeff Adkinson’s high-flying A/SA ’69 Camaro in Stock Eliminator. A pair of invading racers from Louisiana took the Super Street (Val Harmon driving a Chevy II) and Super Gas (Koy Collier driving a Camaro) titles.
Top Sportsman featured a win by Indiana’s Don O’Neal wheeling his cool ’99 Lumina to victory in what had to be considered a bit of a weird win. O’Neal, who had won his very first career NHRA national event title at the NGK Spark Plug NHRA Four-Wide Nationals about a month earlier, red-light in the final round, but his opponent, Lester Johnson, racing his fan favorite ProCharger supercharged ’55 Chevy, had a centerline violation. Thus O’Neal was declared the victor based on drag racing’s traditional “first or worst” rule.
Saturday’s racing schedule included the 2018 Jegs Allstars event and that highly lucrative and prestigious race-within-a-race program also had a Chevrolet-jammed victory lane. In addition to Westerfield’s win in TAFC, second-generation driver Aaron Stanfield (from Louisiana) won Super Stock with his GT/IA ’87 Camaro, Philip Smida (from Ohio) prevailed in Super Street with his ’88 Cavalier, and Lester Johnson (the low qualifier) won in Top Sportsman with his ’55 Chevy. Calgary, Alberta, Canada’s Ken Mostowich, who was the defending 2017 Jegs Allstars Super Gas Champion, was able to successfully defend that title again this year racing his topless ’13 Corvette.
Jeg Coughlin’s win in Pro Stock was also notable in the fact that it ended somewhat lengthy drought for the Ohio-based racer, dating back to 2014. Racing the Jegs.com/Elite Performance Camaro, Jeg recorded his 59th career win, when his opponent and fellow Chevy driver Greg Anderson had a red-light foul in the final. For Jeg, it was the fourth time he has won at this particular Chicagoland event.
Please check out our extensive Jegs Route 66 NHRA Nationals photo gallery below.
Photos: Bruce Biegler