Fifteen time National Champion Gary Phillips has battled the South Aussie heat to top the field in qualifying and make it through to the finals of the ANDRA Drag Racing Series Top Alcohol round in Adelaide last weekend.
After topping the qualifying sheets straight off the trailer with a 4.905 second pass at 227.84 mph (366.6kph) for the 1000 feet distance, Phillips set about defeating Frank Intini in the first round (with a 4.907), before disposing of local racer, Gary Busch in the second round (with a 4.982), setting the Lucas Oils Funny Car in the final against former national champ, Wayne Newby.
“We’d performed really well considering the deal with the weather, with air temperature around 38˚C (100˚F) both days and track temperature peaking at 57˚C (135˚F) but it was always a gamble on a full asphalt surface, and to the track crew’s credit, who also fought these trying conditions all weekend, gave us both equal lanes. Unfortunately our car went up into shake for the first time over the weekend,” Phillips said.
Despite the less desirable runner-up result, Phillips still managed to extend his championship lead by 39 points over closest rival, Steven Reed.
“The overall performance of the car this season has been great. Over the first 3 races, there’s been 54 bonus points up for grabs for Low ET, Top Speed and Top Qualifying, and we have claimed 52 of those 54, so the car has a whole new level of consistency that’s making this championship very rewarding. Even over this weekend, we had four runs out of five that were within a tenth of a second, so that’s great for the team and for Lucas Oils, and is a testament to how well their products performed under these extreme conditions. The end result of the weekend was #1 Qualifier, Low ET, Top Speed and Runner Up.”
The Lucas Oils team now turn their attention to their home track of Willowbank in Queensland, where a revolutionary three round format will see the ANDRA Top Alcohol championship contest two separate rounds over two days over the last weekend of March.
“We’ll have our work cut out for us at the “Super 3 Extreme” event for sure. The pressure will be on with limited qualifying opportunities, so you have to be on it right off the trailer, but we’ve been good at that this season so hopefully it will pay into our hands.”