ROCKINGHAM — Jeffrey Barker already has clinched his second Lucas Oil national championship, but he still has work to do if he wants to retain bragging rights on his home turf.
The Georgia native, by way of Kathleen, will square off one more time with arch rival Sandy Wilkins (Mount Ulla) when the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series moves to Rockingham Dragway this weekend, Oct. 27-29, with the Division 2 Top Sportsman Championship on the line.
Barker, who drove his 2006 Chevy Cobalt to victory in two NHRA national events this year, leads by eight points entering this week’s final race in the division. Wilkins, who likely will finish third nationally after another strong season-long performance at both the divisional and national level, has taken his 1969 Chevy to the final round in four of the seven previous divisional events.
Other notables in the field of standout sportsman drivers include Jeff Strickland (Red Bay, Ala.), Kevin Brannon (Boiling Springs, S.C.), Steven Furr (Harrisburg), Randy Daniels (Grantsboro) and Kevin Helms (Plant City, Fla.).
Strickland was crowned the 2016 national champion in both Stock and Top Dragster, Brannon won the 2015 national Super Comp championship, Furr is a former national champion, Daniels is former Pro Stock Truck winner and Helms is hoping to clinch another national championship in Stock Eliminator after last winning in 2015.
This year, Brannon will attempt to wrestle the divisional Top Dragster championship away from Strickland. The two are separated by just 20 points entering the Rockingham finale.
In addition to the racing in Top Sportsman, Top Dragster, Competition, Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, Super Street and three Jr. Dragster classes, the weekend also will feature the unique Moser Sportsman Shootout.
The Shootout is the most unique event in the sport, as two drivers from each of seven eliminator categories (all except Competition), plus two wild card entrants, will race against one another on the eighth-mile course in a dial-in/breakout format for a $15,000 cash purse including a $5,000 winner’s share.
The traditional racing program will be augmented by Terry Rosberg’s attempt to become the first jet car driver to break the 300 mile-per-hour barrier on The Rock’s quarter mile, and a special nitro motorcycle match race between Tyler Wilson (Walnut Cove) — last month’s ManCup Pro Fuel winner — and Jay Beasley (Winston-Salem).
Off the track there’ll be competition as well, with $50 Outback Steakhouse gift cards awarded in three Halloween decoration categories: “Best Halloween Pit Decoration,” “Best Halloween-themed Golf Cart” and “Best Kid’s Halloween Costume.” Allowances also have been made for trailer-to-trailer trick-or-treating Saturday night.
Division 2 NHRA point standings entering the Lucas Oil Series finale this week at Rockingham Dragway:
1. Kevin Brannon, Boiling Springs, S.C. (335)
2. Jeff Strickland, Red Bay, Ala. (315)
3. Bill Earnest, Wakeman, Ohio (283)
4. Steve Cohen, Trilby, Fla. (281)
5. Steven Furr, Harrisburg, N.C. (238)
1. Jeffrey Barker, Kathleen, Ga. (411)
2. Sandy Wilkins, Mount Ulla, N.C. (403)
3. Derrick Brown, Winston-Salem, N.C. (264)
4. Shawn Morrow, Piedmont, S.C. (242)
5. Scott Underwood, Madison, Ala. (230)
1. David Rampy, Piedmont, Ala. (424)
2. Chuck Haubiel, Gahanna, Ohio (317)
3. Allen Wilson, Kokomo, Ind. (252)
4. Jenny Treadwell, Mount Plymouth, Fla. (211)
5. Randy Daniels, Grantsboro, N.C. (202)
1. David Rampy, Piedmont, Ala. (385)
1. Tyler Caheely, Rock Springs, Ga. (385)
3. Chad Taylor, Sellersburg, Ind. (341)
3. Kevin Helms, Plant City, Fla. (341)
5. Michael Volkman, Campobello, S.C. (310)
1. Kevin Helms, Plant City, Fla. (416)
2. Daren Poole-Adams, Shelby, N.C. (319)
2. Jeff Strickland, Red Bay, Ala. (319)
4. Jeff Adkinson, Damascus, Ga. (309)
5. Jeff Hairrington, Kathleen, Ga. (298)
1. John Labbous Jr., White House, Tenn. (418)
2. Kevin Brannon, Boiling Springs, S.C. (319)
3. Rusty Cook, Cynthiana, Ky. (309)
4. Robert Houston, Newland, N.C. (300)
5. David Morris, York, S.C. (277)
1. Rusty Cook, Cynthiana, Ky. (396)
2. John Labbous Jr., White House, Tenn. (364)
3. Raymond Miller III, Spring City, Tenn. (341)
4. John Taylor, Naples, Fla. (331)
5. Frank Altilio, Apopka, Fla. (300)
1. Jonathan Anderson, Griffin, Ga. (364)
2. Ronnie Maggart, Carthage, Tenn. (278)
3. Matt Weston, Wellford, S.C. (268)
4. Leland Poppell, Odum, Ga. (258)
5. Stan Coleman, Tallahassee, Ala. (245)
Sandy Wilkins, a Mount Ulla native, will battle national champion Jeffrey Barker at the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series this weekend at Rockingham Dragway.