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Justin Lamb rockets to Phoenix win on opening weekend in NHRA’s Pacific Division

Bob Johnson/NHRA Division 7 photos

Five-time NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series champion Justin Lamb fell right into form at the Pacific Division’s double-header this past weekend at Firebird Motorsports Park. Driving the efficient RAD Torque Systems Chevrolet COPO Camaro for Larry and Carol Stone there in Phoenix, Lamb wheeled his way to the Super Stock title for the 32nd divisional event win of his career.
 
“This is such a great way to start the season,” said Lamb, who adds the trophy to a pile that also includes 31 gleaming national event wins. “We’ve had a good amount of success in Super Stock, but to be able to put this COPO in the winner’s circle means a lot. Most of our previous wins in Super Stock have come in the Cobalt [Lamb’s SilverState Plumbing-branded championship-winning 2010 Chevrolet], and we’ve put so much work into figuring out this COPO. We’ve learned a lot, and there’s plenty more to learn – but I’m happy to end the weekend like this.”

Lamb, who won Stock Eliminator at the same event last season, got it done this time around in Super Stock with a final-round defeat of Evan Kowalski, a seasoned driver most commonly known as a threat in Super Gas. Lamb clocked a crisp .013-second reaction time to his opponent’s .025 in the final and threw down an 8.851-second pass on his 8.81 dial to Kowalski’s 9.113 (9.06).
 
It was not an easy win for Lamb, and the challenges began early. After ousting fellow Super Stock and Stock Division 7 racer Shelby Williams in a double breakout, 8.804 (8.81) to 9.880 (9.90), Lamb came up against Matt Hawk, who was a bold .000 as he left the starting line in his GT/QA ’72 Maverick. Lamb was able to get the win with a respectable . 026 paired with a winning 8.785 (8.77) to beat a breakout 11.603 (11.65).
 
Another heated match followed as the Henderson, Nev., native and his SS/AS COPO pulled to the starting line next to No. 1 qualifier Jared Jordan and his FSS/E ’11 Challenger. Jordan’s -.035 foul start set the win light flashing in Lamb’s lane, and he clocked a consistent 8.792 in his victory lap.
 
Lamb turned on another win light with a .026 and dead-on 8.811 (8.81) to send Jody George home on a .022 and 10.908 (10.88), and that set up a semifinals meeting with cousin Trey Vetter, whom Lamb had defeated in the Sonoma Nationals final round last season. Vetter was at the ready in his SS/FA ’68 Camaro with a .023, but Lamb’s .014 reaction was superior, and the two raced hard down the quarter-mile, each playing the finish line as carefully as they could.
 
Ultimately, Lamb broke out by less – 8.799 (8.81) to 9.683 (9.71) – to snatch a ticket to his first final round of the year in his first outing.
 
“We didn’t have the race we wanted in Stock in either of the events this weekend, and the first race was disappointing in Super Stock as well – but we had a really good test session, and then qualifying showed some progress, so we knew we had something to work with,” said Lamb. “At the end of last season, the COPO Super Stocker was showing us that it wanted to win, and to see that happen in Phoenix was satisfying. It’s a long season, and it’s only just started, but this is definitely a confidence-builder.”
 
Lamb, whose next NHRA event will be the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, races with the support of Stone Chevrolet, RAD Torque Systems, SilverState Plumbing, Matco Tools, Goodyear Race Tires, Liqui-Moly, Palmer Electric, Moser Engineering, Redback Boots, and A-1 Performance.

This story was originally published on February 27, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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