Sportsman stars headline annual JEGS Allstars competition
Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The best Sportsman-level drivers from NHRA’s Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series will again converge on Route 66 Raceway this weekend for the highly anticipated JEGS Allstars competition.

Seventy-seven drivers representing 25 states will compete for individual and team honors plus a share of nearly $120,000 at stake during the event, which will again be held in conjunction with the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries.

The JEGS Allstars competition is a unique event that crowns individual champions in 10 eliminators in addition to an overall team champion from one of NHRA's seven divisions. Racers can only qualify for the prestigious event by earning points in their home divisions during yearlong battles in the NHRA Lucas Oil categories of Top Alcohol Dragster, Top Alcohol Funny Car, Comp, Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, and Super Street as well as the exciting Top Dragster and Top Sportsman classes.

Last year, the team from the South Central division (Division 4) rallied to win its sixth overall team title following individual wins by Slate Cummings in Super Stock and Tommy Phillips in Super Comp. Following an intense day of racing, the Division 4 team held off Division 1 to win by 100 points, or the equivalent of one round of competition.

As defending event winners, Cummings and Phillips get to return this season to defend their titles, and they will be joined by a stacked South Central Division roster that also includes Aaron Tatum in Top Alcohol Dragster, Tony Bartone in Top Alcohol Funny Car, Dick Maris in Comp, Jerry Emmons in Super Stock, Steve Evans in Super Comp, John Salter in Super Gas, Greg Parson in Super Street, Jimmy Arabie in Top Dragster, and past national champion Todd Stewart in Top Sportsman.

The Northeast Division team is the all-time leader in the competition with seven team championships and will be looking to add to that with a group anchored by 15-time Top Alcohol Funny Car world champion Frank Manzo. The nine-time JEGS Allstars winner will be joined by fellow champs Joe Santangelo, Frank Aragona Jr., and Sal Biondo.

Current Top Alcohol Dragster champion Duane Shields will again be the cornerstone of a very competitive Southeast Division (Division 2) team that also features Mickey Ferro in Top Alcohol Funny Car, Grant Lewis in Comp, and world champion Sherman Adcock Jr., who will be pulling double duty in Super Comp and Super Gas. The Southeast Division team has a long history of success in the JEGS Allstars competition, having won six overall titles.

The host team from the North Central Division (Division 3) also boasts a pair of world champions in Bill Reichert (Top Alcohol Dragster) and Bo Butner (Comp) as well as JEGS Mail Order’s own Mike Coughlin, who will be the team’s Top Sportsman representative. The Division 3 team also features past JEGS SPORTSnationals winner Brad Zaskowski (Super Stock) and a pair of blockers in defending JEGS Allstars winners Rusty Cook (Super Gas) and James Monroe (Top Dragster). The Division 3 team also has enjoyed a lot of success in the JEGS Allstars race, winning six overall titles, most recently in 2009.

The West Central Division (Division 5) team has never won the JEGS Allstars overall title but has the manpower to do so this year with an impressive lineup that includes four-time Super Comp world champion Gary Stinnett, past Top Alcohol Dragster world champion Randy Meyer, and former Comp champ Bruno Massel. With so much firepower, the team is almost certain to rebound from last year’s disappointing 300-point effort.

The team from the Northwest Division (Division 6) has a lot to prove this year after going winless in the 2011 JEGS Allstars competition. A repeat of that futility would almost be unthinkable as the 2012 team includes past world champs Jackie Alley (Super Stock) and Mike Ferderer (Super Gas) as well as former Allstars winner Mark Faul and the Top Alcohol entries of Joey Severence and Steve Gasparrelli. The Northwest Division has won two overall JEGS Allstars titles (1988 and 2005).

The squad from the Pacific Division (Division 7) is looking for its first overall team title, and this year’s lineup, which boasts 10 Californians, offers perhaps the best chance for a victory. Chris Demke and John Lombardo Jr. will appear in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car, respectively, and defending JEGS Allstars winners Jim Whiteley and Joe Roubicek will return as blockers in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Sportsman. The Division 7 team will also include Del Cox Jr., who has experience in Top Fuel but will be behind the wheel of his Top Dragster for this event.

Several of today’s NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series stars are former Allstars participants, including Top Fuel drivers Morgan Lucas (Top Alcohol Dragster, 2003-04; won in ‘03), Shawn Langdon (Super Comp, 2005-07; won in ’05 and ’06), and Spencer Massey (Top Alcohol Dragster, 2007-08; won in ’07) as well as Funny Car drivers Tim Wilkerson (Top Alcohol Funny Car, 1995) and Jack Beckman (Super Comp, 2004-05; runner-up in  ‘04). Pro Stock driver Jeg Coughlin Jr. also has been an Allstars representative for the North Central division six times, winning the Super Gas title twice.

Although the JEGS Allstars is extremely competitive, camaraderie between racers is evident, especially during Friday evening’s racer-appreciation barbecue, which is open to all of the JEGS Allstars competitors, their families, and crews. The barbecue is scheduled for 8 p.m., at the conclusion of Friday evening’s Pro Stock qualifying session at Route 66 Raceway.