At the recent 50th Winternationals held at Queensland's Willowbank Raceway, Gary Phillips claimed enough points in his Lucas Oils Alcohol Funny Car to secure his 20th Australian Championship.
Gary also grabbed the #1 qualifying position in the first qualifying session with a 5.407 at an early shut off 260mph.
"We headed into the final event of the season leading a close battle in the Pro Alcohol standings where 4 of us could have claimed the championship. As it turned out, we were to face the 3rd in points in the first round, before the rain unfortunately ended the event", said Phillips.
"We came out swinging in the first qualifying run, knowing how important the bonus points were, and it worked in our favour. The data and incremental times actually indicated a 5.38 was the likely number to show on the scoreboard."
Gary was also competing in his Lucas Oils Studebaker Pro Slammer, where an electrical gremlin prevented the team from making the 8 car field.
"The 60ft and 330ft incremental times were extremely promising with indications of a pair of 5.76 passes, however, the ignition glitch was so bad that only a 5.94 and 5.95 were the result".
"We believe we have identified the issue now and are working to rectify it as we speak. The car has been running very strong since installing the new JRi Shocks last month and we can't wait to run the car again, and hopefully improve on our 3rd place finish nationally."
While Gary's 20th championship win was filled with celebration, there was a bittersweet feeling attached this year, as the Winternationals marked the final event with Lucas Oils as major partner with the team.
"It's been 20 wonderful years with the Lucas family. They truly are a part of our own family, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity we were provided by Forrest, Charlotte & Morgan, as well as the entire staff at Lucas Oil Products both here in Australia and the USA. It is extremely sad for us to say goodbye to them."
"We did have other plans in place following the Winternationals, but with the decision made to close their offices in Australia those plans have now changed. We, as a team must now look forward, and seek new opportunities as we still have the desire, and the talent to perform at the very top of the class."
"We have had Lucas Oil on the side of our cars for 16 of our 20 championships, countless event wins and numerous record setting runs, their world class range of products, we used, are second to none and they are one of the biggest reasons for our success. While the offices will no longer be here, Lucas Oil Products will still be exported from the USA, and available from outlets throughout Australia. A sincere thank you once again for putting your trust in us."
The team is currently evaluating future plans for racing, while the search for a new major marketing partner begins. If you would like to get involved with the most successful drag racer in Australian history, please contact either Gary or Cheyne through the team's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GaryPhillipsRacing
Photos by: Dave Reid / DragPhotos.com.au