Far from being a stranger to the winner's circle, with numerous NHRA National event victories, K&N Vice President of Research and Development, Steve Williams still remained in search of a national win in Super Gas prior to the most recent NHRA National event in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Steve Williams is no stranger to the winner's circle
Steve Williams at NHRA National event in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Williams has made four previous trips to the Super Gas championship round during NHRA Nationals events, only to find himself on the wrong side of the win light due to many of the same scenarios that plague all racers from time-to-time.
"I've won in division Super Gas races, I've won four or five National events in Super Comp and seventeen to eighteen division races in Super Comp. But in Super Gas National event finals, and I've been in four of them, I've lost every one of them," admitted Williams. "It's just been some bad luck. I've had a broken transmission, where it broke right off the line. I've had a shifter that wouldn't shift in the final and the other two were just really close races where it would be by say only three thou."
K&N Vice President of Research and Development, Steve Williams
In addition to some fantastic driving, Lady Luck was also about to pay Williams a visit during the Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
"It was a really big event, I mean it was sold out, there were over a hundred and forty cars," noted Williams of the Super Gas entries. "There are still guys who are claiming national event points, but because it's close to the end of the year, I'm already claimed out. So I guess it was an easy time for me, I was more relaxed."
Due to the size of the much anticipated event, many of the Sportsman competitors completed all three of their times runs on Thursday, with first round of eliminations commencing Friday morning.
"It was just tough all the way through," noted Williams. "I ended up pulling a guy named Kelly our of division six and my day almost ended first round. When we rolled up, it was real dark. I had .029 delay in the box and there had been a couple of red-lights in front of us. For some reason, I just reached over and put another .002 in the box or I would have been .399 red first round. Then he broke out by a few thousandths, so that kind of got things going."
Williams moved on to second round, where he would not only better his opponent on the tree but be able to carry that through the stripe for a very close margin of victory.
"Third round I had Thomas Bayer," he continued. "He and I have raced each other for years. I had worked really hard to get close on the dial, we had had a lot of swing, a lot of weather changes. Mostly wind, from a head wind to a tail wind and it meant as much as eight to eleven hundredths shift. So it was pretty hard to dial. When it came down to it, I was .009 and he was .001 on the tree and he was under by one thou at the stripe and I was good by two thou."
"That was really the lucky round," he confessed. "That was the round that you know, you got to win those where it really comes down to a coin toss at the stripe. Once I won that round then I had a really good race with Pete Bothe and it was the only one where I really felt like I missed the tree."
It was once Williams made it to the following round, many things had changed for the racers and their way of thinking in how to set up their cars.
"The pros were finishing up and it started to get dark," reflected Williams. "In that fifth round I kept watching, since I was hanging near the back. Every round had redlights by people who don't normally go red. So I told myself, since I didn't know the guy I was racing, he was out of division five. So I added another ten to the delay and was then at .041 in the box and went .019 on the tree."
Williams's safe green was all he needed to head into the semi-finals when his opponent pulled up a .009 red on his side of the tree.
For the next round, the story was all told on the starting line as Williams had a nice .017 advantage and giving himself all he needed to play with at the stripe.
"We've probably raced each other twenty times," said Williams of his semi-final opponent Sheldon Gecker. "We're about 50/50 and it was just my time to win when he missed the tree a little bit."
Both drivers posted identical 10.053 ET's, but it was Williams taking the holeshot win and on to his fifth NHRA National event final in Super Gas.
The final round would find Williams and his K&N clad 1963 Corvette Worthy Roadster paired up with Stephanie Warn-Skaggs in her first NHRA National final.
"She wanted to stay in the right lane," noted Williams. "I had raced all but one round in the left lane. So, that was fine to stay where I had been."
Possibly with the added pressure of her first final, Warn-Skaggs missed the tree and gave Williams all the ammunition he needed right off the line. Williams was able to quickly put a wheel on her and carry it through the stripe for, what may have looked like to the untrained eye, a rather easy victory and his very first NHRA Super Gas National event win.
"I knew the minute we left the line that she was late. So from then on it was like don't get too cute down there and just make sure you are in front," said Williams.
"It's been great," he said of his first Super Gas National win. "Each year when I come to SEMA, people always ask how I did at the Vegas race and this year I got to say that I won."
Williams competes on both the NHRA National and Divisional level in not only Super Gas, but continues to campaign in Super Comp, as well.
"I couldn't do it without the support of K&N," he said. "Plus a lot of thanks go to a lot of people, one being Travis Hodges. He gets the truck and trailer to the races and if he didn't do that I couldn't race. Plus with the help of John, Ferderer, Boutte, they are all there helping me out."
"What is great about K&N is we have guys that work for the company that are involved in all kinds of motorsports. From drag racing to dirt track, NASCAR, motorcycle racing, just all types," said Williams. "But all these guys that race are also in product development for some area of the company, they are really the R&D staff in the field that bring back those ideas."
"For example, every Pro Stock car in the country now runs the K&N scoop," he continued. "That scoop was designed and built at K&N by people that race and you know that's why we do it. And of course, my car has a K&N scoop, the one that has the filter in it, along with our oil filter program."
Look for Williams to compete at his last event of the 2010 season, in both Super Gas and Super Comp at the 46th Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, slated to take place Nov 11-14 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.
Find K&N products for your vehicle using the K&N application search then use the K&N dealer search to find a K&N dealer in your part of the world.