In the midst of National Trail Raceway’s 50th anniversary celebration, the JEGS NHRA Northern SPORTSnationals, part of a trio of events designed to showcase the best drivers in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, will celebrate its 10th anniversary this weekend (Sep. 18-21) at the venerable southwest Ohio strip. The special event is expected to attract several hundred drivers from across North America.
The second of the three annual events designed specifically to showcase NHRA’s grassroots racers, the JEGS Northern SPORTSnationals will crown champions in Comp, Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, Super Street, Top Dragster, and Top Sportsman. There will also be a special Jr. Drag Racing League event held Sunday.
Since its inception in 2005, the Northern SPORTSnationals has become one of the most popular events on the NHRA calendar. Much like its companion event, the JEGS NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals in Belle Rose, La., the Hebron race successfully strikes a great balance between fierce on-track competition and friendly off-track camaraderie. Racers are also attracted by the wide variety of bonus features, including traditional class eliminations for drivers in Super Stock and Stock and the special DRAW/Racer’s for Christ Super Eliminator Shootouts presented by Moser Engineering for the top 16 qualifiers in Super Comp, Super Gas, and Super Street.
Last year’s event featured six first-time winners, including Steven Belanger (Super Stock), Chuck Beach (Stock), Leo Zynda (Super Comp), and Andy Johnson (Top Dragster). David Billingsley also scored in Comp, and former motorcycle racer Donnie Durenberger won in Super Street.
As one of the final national events of the 2014 season, the JEGS Northern SPORTSnationals will represent a late chance for competitors to earn points towards national and divisional championships. Among the contenders expected to compete at this year’s event are current leaders David Rampy (Comp), Peter Biondo (Super Stock), Edmond Richardson (Super Comp), and Luck Bogacki, who has all but clinched the Super Gas title.
The 10th annual JEGS NHRA Northern SPORTSnationals also will mark the second of three races in the ongoing battle for the coveted JEGS Crown. The prized award is a special trophy handcrafted by Dan Dreisbach of Naked Sculpture. The JEGS Crown is awarded to any driver who can win the same class in two of the three JEGS SPORTSnationals events in a given season. The winners of the JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals in Belle Rose, La., are currently eligible for the prize. Later this year, the winners of the Belle Rose and Hebron events also will have the chance to travel to Las Vegas for the annual JEGS NHRA Pacific SPORTSnationals, where they will be eligible for another chance at the JEGS Crown.
Three drivers who are possible contenders for the JEGS Crown are Rampy, Austin Williams, and Anthony Bertozzi, who won the Belle Rose event in Comp, Stock, and Top Dragster, respectively. Bertozzi is a past national champion who has previously been to the final round of the Hebron event, and Williams is one of the hottest drivers in 2014 with multiple wins in Super Comp and Stock. Should any driver win the JEGS Crown, he would become just the second racer to accomplish the rare feat, joining Mike Ashley, who claimed the prized hardware with a pair of Pro Mod wins in 2005.