Topeka, KS: Tommy Phillips drove his K&N Filters/CBS Arc Safe/ Orteq Energy Technologies/Wood Racing dragster to victory in Super Comp on Monday morning at the weather delayed NHRA Kansas Nationals. The win is just the latest in an already hot stretch for the NHRA sportsman racing standout, who has opened the 2015 season on an absolute tear. Phillips began his NHRA season with a Super Comp victory at the NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Nationals in Las Vegas, and followed with a Super Gas title at the Division 4 LODRS in Ennis, TX. The Topeka triumph marked his third victory in as many NHRA appearances thus far in 2015. As if that weren’t enough, Phillips has also lit up the IHRA tour in early 2015, with four final round appearances in just two Pro-Am events.
“We’re off to a great start, no doubt,” explained Phillips. “I’m really fortunate to drive two incredible race cars, and thus far this season I haven’t let them down too often. Our success is a tribute to the support of our marketing partners: K&N, CBS Arc Safe, Orteq Energy Technologies, Wood Racing, APD, Sunset Performance Racing Engines, TNT Supercars, Capco, Hughes Performance, Hoosier Racing Tire, Smiley’s Racing Products, Lucas Oil, Sullivan Motorsports and all of the manufacturers whose products we depend on.”
Phillips opened Super Comp in Topeka with wins over Bub Miller and Ed Cooper. In round three, his .016-induced 8.909 kept eventual Super Gas winner Rustin Mayse from entertaining any thought of a double victory. Phillips then knocked off Larry Bernhausen in round four to earn a pivotal fifth round bye run.
“Anytime a bye run comes up on the ladder it’s a big deal,” emphasized Phillips. “The competition in these classes today is unreal, so we’ll certainly welcome any opportunity to get a free round. But that particular bye ended up being even more pivotal, because weather forced the conclusion of the race to Monday morning. So we opened Monday’s competition with a single, allowing us to get dialed-in without the pressure of a side-by-side run.”
Not that Phillips needed the break: on his bye run he posted a near perfect .002 reaction time and 8.911 E.T. That setup a semi-final matchup with Cal Belden, marking what Phillips would look back on as the critical round of eliminations.
“I had a slight reaction time advantage (.010 to .013). I knew I didn’t have much room as we approached the finish line, so I just tried to get back to .90 and make it as tight as possible.”
Phillips crossed the finish line first by a scant .003-of-a-second to earn the double-breakout victory as both drivers recorded identical 8.897 E.T.’s.
“If you put that run on paper and tell me that I need to take .003 or less or get behind, to be honest I don’t win that round very often,” Phillips explained. “But we were in the right place at the right time. That was probably my best effort of the entire race, and it just happened to come at the time we needed it the most. That’s when you know things are falling into place.”
Waiting in the final round was fellow South Central Division standout Steve Collier, driving his Manpower dragster. There, Collier would take the slight starting line advantage with a .008 reaction to the .014 of Phillips, but Phillips would record the 32nd victory of his illustrious career by holding off the 8.931 of Collier by .006-of-a-second with a 8.919 elapsed time.
“I just want to thank Jay and Linda Thornburg, Riley Ledbetter, Frank Kohutek, Heidi Robison, and all of our marketing partners for making this success possible,” exclaimed Phillips. “Our start to the season has been fantastic, and we’ll work to keep this momentum rolling.”
Phillips and his team will attempt to do just that as they make their way to Belle Rose, LA this weekend for the NHRA Division 4 LODRS event at No Problem Raceway.