Racing in front of a track record crowd, Lucas Oil's Gary Phillips claimed victory at Darwin's Hidden Valley Drag Strip for the second consecutive year in his 1953 Studebaker Pro Slammer.
Gary qualified in the number 2 position with an off the trailer 5.721 at 251.91mph, which also doubled as a personal best elapsed time for the 47 year drag racing veteran, with 20 Australian Championships to his credit.
"The track crew at Hidden Valley did an outstanding job preparing the track. We took one look at the track and figured we would swing for the fence in the first run, and it definitely stuck. We were low ET for the round, and only got bumped down one spot in the later session", said Phillips.
After using the second qualifying session to test some ideas, which resulted in a personal best sixty foot time of .969 seconds, Gary and his Lucas Oil team would return to their recently found 5.70s tune up for the remainder of eliminations.
Gary proved that consistently quick runs are a winning combination and used a 5.77, 5.78 and 5.77 to eliminate his three competitors and once again claim the title of Nitro Up North event winner.
"Our 1953 Studebaker seems to love the Darwin facility. This is the third time since 2012 we have claimed the win (and our second in a row). We used our 5.30 funny car motor in the car for the event and learned a lot about car setup. It's been a dream to drive since installing the JRi shocks just two events ago, and has certainly displayed the results."
Using the event as a platform to thank departing sponsor Lucas Oil after 20 years of support, the team was thrilled to take home the victory in the final event in Lucas colours.
"We couldn't have thought of a better way to finish up our 20 year partnership. We won the first event with Lucas Oil on our car back in 1997, and also won the final one in 2017. It was a great way to book end one of the longest sponsorships in Australian history. A sincere thank you must go out to Forrest, Charlotte & Morgan Lucas, Tom Fredrickson, Bob Patison, Tom Bogner & Australian manager Jeff Pahlke, along with the entire staff at Lucas Oil Products for everything they have done for us over the past 20 years. They are like our family and will be friends for life."
"Unfortunately our future is uncertain at this time, as we are currently searching for a new major marketing partner, in order to keep two of the most competitive cars in Australia out on the track. After coming off the back of our recent event win, and our current position as leader of the Pro Slammer championship, we are hopeful that a new deal can be secured in the near future."
Check out the team's Facebook page at, www.facebook.com/GaryPhillipsRacing
Photo credit: Dave Reid / DragPhotos.com.au