Words and Photos by Phil Hutchison
In what were two of the best side-by-side races of the NED season, Rich McPhillips Jr and DJ Cox Jr won Top Alcohol Dragster and Funny Car respectively at the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, Northeast Division event at Virginia Motorsports Park.
McPhillips, son of former East Region Top Alcohol region champ Rich Sr. took a page out of Top Fuel Harley winning his race against Jackie Fricke with the front wheels dangling in the air until half track where it set down on his way to a 5.145 @ 276.63 MPH win over Fricke’s game 5.208 runner up effort.
Earlier in the semi finals, both drivers clocked 5.18 second runs virtually guaranteeing a great final and the pair did not disappoint.
After the race the Phoenixville PA racer said, “I gotta thank my pop, Charlie and Duke for doing what they do. These cars take a lot of work to run the way they do. The car has always been good and I was glad to finally win. The team is used to winning and I am happy I got to give them a win.”
“The 5.13 is my best and the second best the car has gone. Troy ran a 5.12 with the car last year so we are right there. After Troy didn’t come back this year, it was my time to drive the car. Originally I was slated to drive the car last year but when JEGS and Troy came up with a sponsorship, we had him drive. And we were very successful with Troy and got a lot of ink for the team.” McPhillips added, “So now it’s me. Matt Cummings is going to drive the car at the next two NHRA national events and we would like to get him a trophy too.”
When asked about the wild wheel standing final McPhillips said, “You know the car is up but you don’t know how high. You feel it in your ass. You can see the horizon and you hope it doesn’t go up any more. I could tell the car was going straight. If it wasn’t I would have had to lift. I knew the car was pulling, I had an ok light but I knew Jackie was out on me but once the front came down I caught her around 1000 feet. Once we looked at the time slip we realized the car tripped the 330 and half track speed clocks on the rear wheels.”
McPhillips ended with, “Jackie is a great competitor and she has been kicking my ass all year. I wanted a great final and we got one.”
With the runner up at VMP Fricke from Flemington NJ, is in control of the East Region in Alcohol Dragster with Boulder City NV racer Duane Shields in second.
Alcohol Funny Car champ DJ Cox Jr. from Whiteford MD needed to go one round on Saturday to claim his second East win and after he defeated the Monte Carlo of NC racer Chris Zgoda, the weight of winning the region was over. But the finals against former East Region champ, Dan Pomponio was still coming up and nothing in drag racing is a given.
Going into the finals both Pomponio and Cox had put down quick runs with Cox carding a 5.411 and Pomponio putting a 5.452 in his win over Brian Gawlik’s Camaro.
Cox said after his win, “The car ran good all weekend but racing Dan makes me nervous he is so good on the tree. The car was like a bracket car.” Cox adds, “I need to thank Shawn Pyle and DXI Construction DC Contracting, Insinger Performance, Stinger Race Fuels and Gary Cullum Heating and Air Conditioning, plus Lucas Oil, NGK and my family and my crew for the win.”
“The best thing about the day besides winning was wrapping up the 2020 East region. We locked it up winning the first round.”