Henderson’s Justin Lamb locks up Lucas Oil title, eyes another at LVMS

Updated November 2, 2017 - 3:30 pm

Justin Lamb clinched his third NHRA sportsman national championship during last weekend’s Toyota Nationals undercard at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and the Henderson drag racer could earn a fourth this weekend when the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Pacific Division completes its season at The Strip.

He is 30 years old in a sport in which drivers sometimes compete into their sixties.

But unlike most sportsman competitors, he has no desire to step up to the NHRA’s pro classes.

“No, there’s just not much interest,” said Lamb, a business analyst engineer for the City of Henderson. “(In the NHRA) it’s mostly about who has the best sponsor.”

In the sportsman ranks, cars are handicapped to provide a level playing field. So instead of money, it’s more about the technical ability to drive and set up a car, Lamb said.

Drivers select a “dial-in” time based on predicted elapsed time. The starting lights are adjusted to give the car and driver with the slower dial-in time a head start. In theory, if both drivers have equal reaction times and their cars run the predicted dial-ins, they should reach the finish line at the same time.

In reality, Justin Lamb often reaches the finish line first, because of that technical ability he spoke of. He clinched the Super Stock national title driving a Chevy Kobalt and will pursue the Stock championship in a 2017 COPO Camaro, which is nothing at all like a street legal Camaro.

He says his family owned race team (parents Chris and Carole) has a lot of money tied up in those cars, but nowhere close to what John Force and Don Schumacher have tied up in their Nitro-burning ones.

When pressed about the pro classes, he finally gave in a little. He said it might be fun to make a pass down the track in a Pro Stock car.

“I’d do that tomorrow,” Justin Lamb said.

Cruzin’ for the Raiders

NHRA Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon was flying the Raiders’ colors again at last weekend’s Toyota Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This time he wore a racing helmet that looked identical to Derek Carr’s, only with a painted-on face mask.

“I’ve been a Raiders fan since the days of Jim Plunkett. There was just an aura about the Raiders,” said the two-time Funny Car champion from Torrence, California.

During the NHRA’s spring stop at LVMS, the oil catch can on Pedregon’s car was painted silver and black with a Raiders-style shield that said CRUZER.

“It’s just everything about the Raiders,” he said, “and the fact they’re winning now is just icing on the cake.”

Pedregon was racing at LVMS when the Raiders were being humbled in Buffalo. So if the ET on his last statement was a bit off the mark, that would explain it.

The boss watching again

During the spring NHRA race at LVMS, in a small cubbyhole in the scoring tower, Toyota Racing Development president David Wilson was watching teenager Noah Gragson of Las Vegas hustle one of Kyle Busch’s Tundras to a fourth-place finish at Martinsville, Virginia.

“What he did in Martinsville is one data point, but that is a tough track for a rookie,” Wilson said.

During Sunday’s Toyota Nationals, Wilson stopped by to talk about Gragson winning his first Truck Series race the day before, also at Martinsville Speedway. He was impressed with the local youngster’s high-side pass for the win following a late restart.

So to use the boss’ vernacular, Noah Gragson now has two data points at Martinsville, and it’s always good when the Big Cheese comes by to sing the praises of the smaller cheeses.

It’ll be here in a Jiffy

It was announced at this week’s Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas that Jiffy Lube will serve as presenting sponsor of the March 4, 2018 Pennzoil 400 NASCAR Cup Series race Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The event formerly known as the Kobalt 400 will now be called the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube. That will be a lot to put on souvenir caps and T-shirts, but one suspects LVMS and NASCAR will figure it out.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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