For the second year in a row, Chicagoland native Matt Sackman swept the NHRA North Central Region event at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois. Sackman qualified No. 1 in the Novak Electric/Gemini Farms/Hangsterfer’s Laboratories A/Fuel dragster and defeated Troy Coughlin Jr. in the Top Alcohol Dragster final round, claiming car owner and tuner Randy Meyer’s eighth win of the season in the team’s 13th 2019 final round.
“This weekend was pretty much a dream come true,” Sackman, 26, said. “I don’t get to drive an alcohol car very often, so to show up at my home track and drive a Randy Meyer car – he has the best cars in the country right now – it’s pretty incredible. I’m still kind of shocked that the weekend went the way it did. Just looking at the quality of the cars and drivers that were there, I knew it would be tough to repeat the win – and it was tough. We ran three good cars and we were able to take the win.”
Sackman’s 5.297-second pass at 275.67 mph in the first qualifying session put him in the No. 1 spot going into Sunday eliminations, where he started with a 5.407 at 273.77 to defeat Jared Dreher’s 5.468 at 248.43. The Channahon, Illinois, native recorded low ET of the event, 5.281 at 275.73, in his semifinal win over 2014 world champion Chris Demke.
Sackman went into the final round with lane choice over Coughlin, who was deadly consistent in prior rounds with a pair of .064 reaction times and 5.32 passes. Both drivers stepped up for the final round, with Coughlin in the JEGS-backed McPhillips Racing A/Fuel dragster leaving first with a .007 light followed by Sackman’s .025 bulb. Sackman drove through tire shake and edged past Coughlin by just .0001, winning with a 5.348 at 273.33 over Coughlin’s 5.366 at 274.11.
“I knew TJ would be good on the tree and I knew their car was going to run good,” Sackman said. “We lined up behind Sean Bellemeur and he knocked the tires off right in front of us in the Top Alcohol Funny Car final round. Randy was debating changing lanes, but we stayed there and I was prepared for anything. We just went 5.28 the round before and I’m sure that was on the edge.
“Fortunately I was able to go .025 staged shallow, so I was really happy with my light,” Sackman continued. “The thing took off and around 200 feet it started fast-shaking, so I grabbed the brake and hung on. I never saw TJ but I was kind of surprised when the win light came on after driving through the shake. TJ went by me as soon as the win light came on, so I knew he was right there the whole time. To win by one ten-thousandth, that’s the closest race I’ve ever been a part of. We were very fortunate to be on the winning side of that.”
Sackman was joined in the winner’s circle by his parents, Darren and Marie, and younger brother, Zach, who drove the family’s Hangsterfer’s Metalworking Lubricants Top Dragster at the race. Sackman also raced all weekend with support from local family and friends, including former competitors from his Jr. Dragster days at Route 66 Raceway.
“It was very special to win at my home track,” Sackman said. “Route 66 is the first track I ever got to make a pass down. I got my Jr. Dragster license there in 2005. People were coming by the pit to talk and cheer us on all three days. It definitely gives you a good feeling to have that support, plus the support of everyone at Novak Electric, Gemini Farms, Hangsterfer’s and Randy Meyer Racing.”
The next race for Sackman Boyz Racing is the Drag Illustrated World Series of Pro Mod, Aug. 9-10 at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colorado, where Matt Sackman will drive the Hangsterfer’s Top Dragster in the MagnaFuel ProStar 16 Shootout.