Pressure generates an ambiguous dilemma, so the distinction between winning, and yet another rationalization, is so often determined by which side of the two-head beast you chose to embrace. The laws of psychics dictate that pressure can either weigh us down, or push us higher. Tommy Phillips, the Forney, Texas, Texan has clearly aligned himself with the latter.
Phillips said he intends on introducing his third team car around the U.S. Nationals event.
The All-Stars win at Route 66 Raceway added yet another ingredient to Tommy Phillipsâ€™ season to remember.
Over the course of his 20-plus year career, pressure has lifted Phillips to 23 NHRA national event titles and 27 NHRA Lucas Oil Divisional wins, along with his six NHRA Division 4 Championships. The K&N sponsored racer has finished in the top-ten an astounding 18 times, six of those come as the second place national finisher. The case can be made that Phillips competes with the ferociousness of a tiger, as depicted by his Tigerflow/K&N team paint scheme. Recently Phillips and his crew competed in the NHRA Route 66 Nationals in Joliet, Illinois; it was the team's sixth NHRA national event of the season, and when the smoke and rubber settled, the Tigerflow/K&N team stood tall, hoisting the Super Comp All-Stars gold.
With all that Phillips has accomplished thus far in his career, it's nearly incomprehensible to believe that 2011 is shaping up to perhaps become a defining season. What is it that continues to fuel Phillips to greatness, and why does he cuddle pressure with such affection? He claims its all luck. We think he's being respectfully humble.
How does it feel to get the round three win in the NHRA Full Throttle Series, does any one thing standout from the race, and what all went right to contribute to the victory?
"It felt great to get the win in the finals of the All-Star race. That is a very difficult race to even qualify for, and to win it is one of the most rewarding moments a sportsman racer can have in their career."
"There is a lot of pressure at the All-Star race, not only because the bonus money is very rewarding, but because you have teammates that are relying on you as well. The team concept is very unique in our sport, so I definitely wanted to have my 'A-game' with me, because I didn't want to let anyone on the team down. In qualifying for the race, we count all round wins within our LODRS events, with no waiver races. In other words, every race counts...good and bad. Even in the LODRS National Championship chase, we are allowed to take our best eight of 14 races, so the All-Star event is actually more difficult to win in some ways. It all adds up to a large commitment of time, effort, and financial obligation for each of the competitors that qualified for the event, and you have to be near perfect on one single day to reap the rewards. That's tuff! As a result, it was a huge relief and very rewarding, both individually and for our Division 4 team to leave Chicago as a 2011 JEGS All-Star Champion."
"As far as things going right for me to win - almost everything went right. My car has been really good all year and it was near flawless at this event as well. Gary Stinnett was having some mechanical gremlins that weekend, and didn't put down the run I would have expected, so I was able to take advantage and get the win light. I had some really good fortune in round two when, Sherman Adcock, broke on the starting line. He is a very consistently successful driver and drawing him at any event is no bargain at all. The fact that I got a free run when he broke was definitely a stroke of good fortune."
"The final really stands out because Michael Miller was the defending champion in Super Comp, a great racer, and I built the car he is driving. He and his family do an outstanding job with their race team, but that day it was just my time. It was a very close race and I was fortunate to get the win."
From your perspective how would you say your season is shaping up overall at this point?
"I am having a very good year so far and hope I can finish up. I am currently leading the LODRS national points championship in Super Gas, and fourth in Super Comp. There are several drivers that are right there with me though, so it will be a battle to the end. That's the best part of racing for a championship though, because I love it the best when it matters the most!"
What's up next for you and the team?
"I will introduce a third car to my team around the U.S. Nationals event. I am finishing up a 2005 Cavalier to run in Super Stock, which was prepared by Bret Voges, from Van Buren, Ohio. His stuff is always fast and flawless, so I am very excited to get my new car."
"In the meantime, I am off for three weeks, or so, and will spend that time with my family relaxing. I have a brand new granddaughter, Presley, and I am enjoying the time with her. She was born the day that I left for the All-Star event in Chicago. My next race will be in Cordova, Illinois for a LODRS Division 5 event, then on to Brainerd, Topeka, and Indy for the U.S. Nationals. I have 11 races in 14 weeks to close the year, plus four appearances at local vocational schools, so it will be a busy few months, but what a great and fortunate life I have to be able to do this!"
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