Phillips Earns 30th National Event Win, First of 2014
Las Vegas, NV: Tommy Phillips is one of the most successful competitors in NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series history. The Forney, TX based racer makes his living in the sportsman categories of NHRA competition, and owns an incredible resume that includes seven NHRA Division 4 championships, 31 Lucas Oil Division Series victories, and too many top-ten national points finishes to count. Last weekend, Phillips drove the Orteq Energy Technologies/K&N Filters/CBS ArcSafe/Buddy Wood Racing Camaro owned by Cody and Meghan Ortowski to the Super Gas victory at the NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas, NV. The win marked a milestone for Phillips: his 30th career NHRA national event crown. At the same time, the victory brought a sigh of relief: it was the first win of 2014 for Phillips, who has admittedly endured one of his most trying on-track seasons in recent memory.
“We have struggled,” Phillips said. “We started the season with two completely new race cars, and that’s always a challenge because every car is different. That put us behind the 8-ball, so to speak, and it took us awhile to recover. We’ve had some good outings, but I was beginning to question whether or not we’d get a win on the national level this season. Overcoming that adversity really make this victory feel good.”
Phillips, who also advanced to the fourth round of competition in his CBS ArcSafe/K&N Filters backed Super Comp machine, drove the Orteq Energy Technologies Camaro to an opening round win over Hollis Colleasure, setting up a matchup with good friend and sponsor Buddy Wood in the second round of competition. There, Wood fouled at the starting line, advancing Phillips into round three. He used a great .007 reaction time to knock out perennial Division 7 contender Steve Parsons, and earned a bye run into the quarterfinal round. In round 5, Phillips won a double-breakout decision alongside recent E.T. Finals champion Dave Meziere, and then advanced past a slowing Chad Langdon in the semi-finals. Alongside Bernie Polvadore in the final round, Phillips left little to chance. He took a significant starting line advantage with a .008 reaction time, and crossed the finish line first by a scant .001 of a second to run a near-perfect 10.056 on the altitude-adjusted 10.05 index for a great .014 package.
“I’m really happy to get this win for everyone involved with our team. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’ve got the best group in sportsman racing. From our team members; Jay and Linda Thornburg and Riley Ledbetter, to our marketing partners, the manufacturers that we rely on, and all of my friends, I’ve got a great supporting cast. They deserve to be a part of success like this, and I’m honored to be able to do my part to bring it to them.”
Despite the victory, Phillips’s trip to Las Vegas was not without issue. The engine in his venerable Freightliner hauler suffered catastrophic failure on the way to Nevada, and will need to be replaced before his team can return to their Forney, TX home.
“That wasn’t in the plans,” Phillips laughed. “This game is full of surprises. As much as I try, you just can’t be prepared for everything. Unfortunately, Sunset Performance Engines doesn’t specialize in diesel engines, so we’ll have to make do!”
Phillips will be back on track at this weekend’s LODRS event in Las Vegas before concluding his season at the NHRA Finals in Pomona, CA. Phillips recognized several partners who are vital to his team’s continued success: CBS ArcSafe, K&N Filters, Orteq Energy Technologies, Buddy Wood Racing, Lee-A Inc., APD Carbs, Capco Contractors, TNT Supercars, Sunset Performance Engines, Hughes Performance, Hoosier Racing Tire, JEGS, Aeroquip, Sullivan Motorsports, and Lucas Oil Products.
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