FallNationals Super Gas Winner – Tommy Phillips
Photos Ron Lewis
When it comes to a win/loss percentage in national event finals, Tommy Phillips ranks right up there with the best. After his Super Gas win at the FallNationals at the Dallas Motorplex, he earned his 40th national event Wally in 51 finals, and if that isn’t enough, nine of those wins have occurred at his hometown track, the Motorplex.
Living close to the Motorplex has both its advantages and disadvantages. “It’s an extremely busy week for us,” said Phillips. “The week prior, we were at the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event in Oklahoma. Monday, we spent the day cleaning everything up and then Tuesday, we put on a special car show, meet and greet at the Children’s Hospital of Plano. It’s a very rewarding day, visiting with a lot of sick kids and helping to make their day better, a day that’s coordinated by Donna Watson and a number of other racers take part also.
“Wednesday, we all get involved in the Greg Morris Memorial Golf Tournament put on by the Drag Racers Benevolent Fund,” Phillips added. “And then we have a lot of family and friends who attend the race. Sometimes it can get hectic, but I don’t think I’d want it any other way.”
Racing both his Super Comp and Super Gas cars, time trials went along rather smoothly except for the last time run in the Super Gas car. “For whatever reason, it was just off more than I expected,” he said. “That kind of threw me for a loop and with the help of Jay and Linda Thornburg, we went over the whole car to make sure nothing was wrong. As happens sometimes, we didn’t find anything but it’s better to check it over. Proper preparation is the key to winning races and I didn’t want to overlook anything.
“Going into first round, I really wasn’t sure what the car was going to be on, but I needed to guard against going too slow. As it turned out, the last time run might have been a fluke but the car simply followed that pattern all throughout eliminations.”
With three cars left in the semifinals on Sunday, Phillips received the odd car bye run which helped to dial him in for the final, eventually against Jerry Debusk. “The weather changed drastically on Sunday and I collaborated with Craig Anderson and his car owner Joe Hessling, who were in the finals of Super Comp. I’m not sure what it is, but this track doesn’t react like other places when there are big weather swings. Maybe because of its all concrete surface, but it is different than other places.”
A .007 reaction time in the semis was cause for a little concern on Phillip’s part. “I wasn’t sure I hit it right and I knew that if I were to put more in the delay box, I might end up with a .020 or so reaction time,” he said. “I knew I couldn’t be .020 in the final and expect a win and I didn’t want to leave myself vulnerable like that.”
Eventually, he made the executive decision to roll some in the delay box and forgot about it from that point on. “I have a lot of confidence in myself and my cars, but I also wonder if sometimes it doesn’t really matter. I’m a firm believer that God is the one in control anyway and I do have a tendency to simply make a decision as to delay box and timer settings and once I put my helmet on, I forget about it all and just run my race.”
The race he ran in the final was a .013 reaction time coupled with a 9.916 on the .90 index was enough to turn back the two-time national event winner Debusk.
Besides the help he receives from the Thornburgs in addition to the support of his family, wife Carrie and daughter Autumn along with granddaughter Presley, Phillips is especially thankful for his major sponsor CBS Arcsafe and the friendship of the owner and his family, the Ledbetters. “I also have to thank K&N Engineering, Scoggin-Dickey, APD, Hughes Performance and Lucas Oil,” Phillips said.