HAMPTON, Ga. - In the penultimate week of the 2017 O’Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags season, it was crunch time in 18 different racing divisions, as drivers grasped at every last point they could capture leading into next week’s championship finale.
In the New Edge Division, like it sometimes does, the final race came down to Steve Shaffer and Jeff Nance, both of whom drive late-model Chevrolet Corvettes.
Both drivers are familiar to the fans in the grandstands for in their fast, bright-colored V-8 machines and to each other as two of the top drivers in the division – though there always seems to be a last-minute issue that keeps the pair from actually competing head-to-head on the drag strip.
On Friday night, though, it came down to Shaffer and Nance in the division final, and it was Nance, who makes the four-hour journey from his Southeast Tennessee hometown every week, ending up getting the better of Shaffer. But there’s a mutual respect between the two that makes the weekly competition something Nance looks forward to each of the other six nights out of the week.
“It’s entertaining,” Nance said. “He’s always got a colorful expression every now and then and plenty of energy. I finally got to race him. All season long, there’s been something keeping us from racing each other. We really enjoyed it. I thought he was going to beat me for a second.”
For Nance, a seasoned racer who wheels his Corvette at tracks all throughout the South and is competing for the first time at Atlanta Motor Speedway this year, drag racing is a lifelong passion he’s more than willing to make the drive for.
“I’ve been doing it a long time,” he said. “I went to the drag strip as a child, and I just loved it, so I started doing it as soon as I got my first car.
“But the reason I come down here and make the four-hour drive every week is because of the rules. No other track has the kind of rules where a car that can be driven daily can also come out and be competitive. So, I want to support the fact that they’re willing to make a set of rules that includes everyone. I certainly enjoy it.”
With Nance’s Friday night victory, he adds a fifth to his 2017 resume and moves comfortably ahead in the points in his racing class with next week’s season finale – and a likely championship trophy – less than a week away.
In the Harding Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Domestic Division, Chris Morgan secured his second victory of the season by beating out last week’s winner, Donnie Henderson. Meanwhile, Alan Kidd scored his first win in the Super Pro Division after getting the better of Robert Cheney and his American dragster in the final race of the evening.
David Clevenger continued with his winning ways in the Pro Division after edging Jimmy Jones with his 1986 Chevrolet Corvette. Clevenger extends his lead to five points over Oxford’s Dale Rodgers, all but wrapping up the 2017 Pro Division title.
Other notable winners Friday night include William Hunter in the Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman Division, Tyler Hatch in the Harbin’s Mechanical Sport Compact Division and Lamar Chambers in the MetroPCS Tuner Division.
Atlanta Motor Speedway’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags wraps up the 2017 season with the 16th and final week on Friday, Aug. 18. For more information, visit AtlantaMotorSpeedway.com.
Atlanta Motor Speedway – Hampton, GA
Friday Night Drags – August 11, 2017
Week 15 Results
Super Pro: Alan Kidd – Chevrolet Pickup
Pro: David Clevenger – 1986 Chevrolet Corvette
Sportsman: William Hunter – 1989 Ford Mustang
Domestic: Chris Morgan – 1966 Ford Mustang
Sport Compact: Tyler Hatchett – 1999 Honda CRX
Tuner: Lamar Chambers – Volkswagen Beetle
Street Modified: David Waksman – 1994 Chevrolet Camaro
Factory Street: Keith Shockey – 2015 Dodge Challenger
Street Outlaw: Rodney Bunn – 1973 Volkswagen Beetle
New Edge: Jeff Nance – 2015 Chevrolet Corvette
Street Performer: Jody Scott – 1995 Chevrolet Corvette
Diesel Truck: Brian Sparrow – 2005 Ford F-250
Truck: Ed Blanford – 1968 Ford F-100
Super Bike: Toney Freeman – 2007 Suzuki Hyabusa
Sport Bike: Toney Freeman – 2006 Suzuki Hayabusa
Motorcycle: Justin Goodman – 2007 CRB 600
Cruiser: Daniel Leath – 2014 Yamaha Bolt
ATV: Wayne Cline – ATV