Gary Phillips and his Lucas Oil Products team debuted a new engine combination in the best way possible, by clean sweeping every point available at last weekend’s Westernationals at the Perth Motorplex.
“It really could not have gone any better. From the time we put the new 502ci BAE Hemi into the frame rails of the Lucas Oil Funny Car, it has performed almost flawlessly. We’ve been wanting to make a big change for a while now, so we bit the bullet and finally tried this new combination”, Phillips said.
“Every time we serviced the engine throughout the meeting, it looked like it had not even been started. Of course, this is all because of the great range of Lucas Oil Products that we use”.
Wednesday testing saw the team perform 3 runs, with favourable early incremental times and planned early shut offs on the first 2, before the final full pass of a 5.454 at only 259.57mph.
“This new set up wants to sixty foot way harder than it did before. We were consistently in the .930s and .940s, so that’s definitely a positive sign”,
After stumbling on the set up in the opening qualifying session on Friday, Phillips and his Lucas Oil team rebounded in the second session and recorded an identical 5.454 to the test day, but this time at 265.40mph.
With the cooling conditions and rising humidity, the third session netted the team a personal best ET of a 5.420 with a speed of 266.79mph, to grab #1 qualifying spot.
When race day rolled around, Phillips continued the impressive performances despite less than desirable weather conditions, running 5.485 at 261.22mph in the opening round of eliminations. This was even after rolling the beams and deep staging, which slowed the incremental times by more than 4 hundredths.
In the semi finals, Gary had to pedal the car after experiencing tyre shake, and a 5.550 at 263.17mph was the result.
In the finals, Gary left the starting line first with a .059 reaction time, and shortly after, was again faced with tyre shake. He used every bit of his 46 years experience to drive through it and had to fight to keep the car away from the guard rail. The scoreboards lit up with a great 5.441 at 265.17mph, along with the all important win-light.
“This was an extremely tough race from the start. Pro Alcohol put on a great show, with John Cannuli and Craig Glassby also running in the 5.40s, and several other cars running in the 50s, we had to be on our game. We still haven’t done many runs with this new chassis, or the engine combination for that matter, but it looks like we’re starting to get a handle on it.
“There is definitely more in the car, we just have to find the sweet spot. To qualify #1, set low ET, top speed and win the race all with a new combination is just great. We’re all about big performances, and winning is a bonus, for us, Lucas Oil, Speedflow, Leanders Clutches and J Payne Race Engineering. A big thanks must go to the super crew for the job they did on the weekend. Deb, Cheyne, Steve, Leigh and Fred, great effort, thank you!”.
Gary and the Lucas Oil team head back to the Perth Motorplex with the Funny Car on February 19 & 20.