For the fifth time of his career, Steve Williams whittled his way through the competition to find himself in the winner's circle at a NHRA National Event, when he and his faithful K&N Filters 1963 Corvette roadster took the win in Super Gas during the 25th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park in Topeka, Kansas. The win marked his second NHRA national event Wally in Super Gas.
Steve Williams grabs Super Gas win at 25th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park in Topeka, Kansas
Williams was doing double duty in both his Super Comp dragster and 9.90 Corvette, but he's the first to point out he's not yet quite satisfied with the dragster's performance thus far in 2013.
"The dragster is still not as good as the Corvette," admitted Williams, V.P. at K&N Engineering. "It's got a problem where it's giving up a little more 60ft when the track gets hot and I haven't quite got that figured out, but I'm working on it. It's about eighty percent there."
"I don't race again until after the Fourth, so I'm going to go up to Bakersfield for a couple of days for a race there and just work on the dragster," he said.
K&N Filters 1963 Corvette Super Gas roadster driven by Steve Williams
While he was able to make it to third round in the dragster, it would be his Corvette that would carry him through the weekend to the win and for the Beaumont, California resident, it all started with sending Super Gas racer Doug Kohl home, right off the bat.
"I think we were both about the same on the tree," said Williams of his Super Gas first round match up with Doug Kohl. "They [NHRA] were going to run us all day on Saturday and we were out there that morning about nine. It was one of those breakout rounds and I knew I wasn't going to catch him, so I just dropped and he went under and I was a few over."
After the first round win, that would put Williams and his fellow Super Gas competitors on the ladder and he was pleased with where he landed. "Yeah, I was pretty happy with my spot," he said. "That paired me with Trisha Allen, who went red and third round I came up against Ricky Hill. He's another one of the local guys there. I was .025 on the tree and he was .014. It was just another bit of luck there, because he just barely broke out with his 9.896 and I knew I wasn't going to catch him, so I dropped to a 9.92."
Williams' win over Hill moved him on to the quarterfinals and a huge matchup with fellow K&N Filters racer, Tommy Phillips. Not just a battle of great drivers, but the winner would earn the all-important bye into the championship round.
K&N Vice Presendent Steve Williams outran Shawn Carter for the NHRA Kansas Nationals Super Gas win
"He went red by a couple of thou and that was pretty unusual for him," Williams pointed out of Phillips reaction time.
"From my perspective, I was probably a little too conservative with the delay box most of the rounds," he noted. "Because first round the track is a lot colder and a lot tighter. I was .014 with .024 in first round and then I left that in for the next three rounds, where I then stayed in the twenty's. So, I really think I was just too conservative with that part to start with. I took .010 out for my semifinal bye and was .007, then added .005 back in and was .014 in the final."
Williams pointed out that in most of his rounds, he was always the one doing the chasing with his high mile-per-hour Corvette roadster and its low 170 charge. "I think everyone else was like 164 mph and slower, but Carter who I ran in the final. I had run him in a time run, I think it was the third one on Friday and we both ran 9.88's. So I had a time slip that showed me exactly where he was and his track position."
"So I knew at 1000ft that I would outrun him by about a hundredth to the finish line," he continued. "We had identical 1000ft ET's. Even though he missed the tree pretty bad, I didn't see that. It was pretty dark with the crazy weather that we were having, so was really just trying to make sure I hit the tree good. But by the time we got to the 1000ft, he wasn't even at the back of my wheelie bar. I just ripped the throttle a few times to bring him up to my door and then when we crossed the stripe, I just tightened it up a little more."
"I didn't really have to make it very close, because I was pretty comfortable that I was well over [the index] by then," he added.
By doing his homework and visualizing the round before he ran it, Williams turned his knowledge, and his good size starting line advantage, into a NHRA Super Gas national event win by taking down Shawn Carter.
Williams' Super Comp ride is a TNT dragster, loaded up with a 622ci powerplant. "It's a new motor and makes a little more power than last year. At Houston, we ran over 190mph on the stop at 8.90. The car also has an A-1 converter and a Hughes transmission and I just started working with the guys at JRi and put their gas shocks on both cars. It's really tightened both of them up and made them much more predictable."
"The Corvette has a 565ci in it and with an A-1 converter and transmission in it," he added. "Both cars have the K&N composite scoops and air filters. I'm also using the brand new K&N billet reusable oil filter on both cars. That oil filter has so many benefits including, being able to quickly change the oil and just drop another stainless steel filter down in and then clean the other filter up when you get a chance. It really helps to encourage you to change the oil a little more often because the filter is so easy to just plunk it off and put another one on."
"I usually go to the division race at Topeka, because it's right before Indy [U.S. Nationals] and on the way there," he explained. "This was only my second time racing the national event there. I really like the race track and the people there. It's a great facility and there isn't a bad pit spot there."
"We just felt if we kept our heads down we were going to win one of these races," he said. "I think it was just really gratifying to finally punch one out. Last season was the first one in five or six years that I didn't win at least one race. So I think we were just really focused and realized that if we just kept plugging away that something good would happen."
Williams keeps a great group of folks around him and is always grateful to each of them for the roles they play in his on-track successes.
"Without the support of everyone here at K&N, I wouldn't be able to race. With Travis Hodges driving the truck and John Reed doing the motors, we do all of our engines in-house here," he said. "With Mike Ferderer, who set up the Corvette chassis, which thanks to him is just awesome. Really, just all the different manufacturers that help us out, JRi Shocks and Brodix, A-1 and many more. Without all those other manufacturers helping us out with great products, these cars wouldn't be capable of being so consistent."
"Maybe I'm biased, but it is just an absolute pleasure to get in that car," he said of his NHRA National Event winning Corvette roadster. "I think it's one of the best Super Gas cars in the country and feel that it is directly related to the people and the manufacturers that build the products."
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