Back-to-back wins extend historic streak for Justin Lamb on NHRA's famed Western Swing
Few racers in NHRA competition have been able to string together win after win, year after year, but for five-time Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series champion Justin Lamb, it's a streak he's been able to keep alive for 12 years running. Lamb swept in Seattle and Sonoma on NHRA's strenuous Western Swing to claim the trophy on back-to-back weekends, lengthening a streak that has seen at least one national event win in each season since 2012.
At the Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals at Seattle's Pacific Raceways, Lamb drove his RAD Torque Systems Chevrolet COPO Camaro to the 30th win of his career and seventh in Stock Eliminator. One week later, he raced his trusty Silver State Plumbing Chevrolet Cobalt to his 16th Super Stock win at the Sonoma Nationals. Lamb's 12-year national event win streak is only bettered in NHRA by Funny Car champion Ron Capps, who extended his own string of yearly victories to 15 earlier this summer in Bristol.
"I never would've dreamed of winning this many national events, and it's really special to be able to do so," said Lamb, who has only missed claiming national trophies in two seasons (2008 and 2011) since hoisting his first in 2006. "It's
pretty unbelievable to be able to extend the win streak to 12 years. It's definitely something I'm proud of, and it's something I hope to be able to continue for as long as possible."
In Seattle, Lamb ran a perfect 9.750 on his 9.75 dial in the quarterfinals to oust Jeff Lane, then defeated Brian Seaburg in a close race to gain admission to the 45th national event final round of his career. First-time finalist Greg Kielman slapped a .005-second reaction time on Lamb, who left shortly thereafter with a respectable .022. At the finish line stripe, Lamb and his RAD Torque COPO got the win light by .005-second, 9.814 (9.80) to 11.676 (11.64).
"The semifinal round was really difficult," said Lamb, who was better at the starting line with a .024-second reaction time to Seaburg's .050, then carefully wheeled his way to a 9.792 (9.74) to his opponent's 13.710 (13.67) to win by just .014-second. "It ended up working out, and the final was just a great, great race. [Seattle] is the closest national event for my sponsor, RAD Torque Systems, and Dan Provost. He wasn't here, but he's been a longtime supporter, and I was really happy to get the win for him at Pacific Raceways."
Lamb and his family, including wife Jeanine and children Jayce and Jovi, were joined on their Western adventure by fellow racer Dylan Hough and his parents, Brian and Mindy. The families vacationed together between events, and Lamb, who has become a mentor for the younger Hough, was ecstatic to see his friend reach the final round in both Super Comp and Top Dragster in Seattle.
Sonoma brought another storyline that fueled Lamb's fire to not only continue to strengthen his own skill as a driver, but also to encourage those around him. Lamb's cousin, Trey Vetter, recently entered the Super Stock ranks with his 1968 Camaro and was also on the Western tour with the family. Fatefully, Lamb and Vetter ended up on opposites sides of the ladder in Sonoma, and they each knocked out everyone in their path to meet one another in the final round for the first time. Vetter's impressive path included a perfect .000 reaction time in the second round and a double-breakout win in the quarterfinals to secure a bye run to the final. Lamb was dead-on an 8.91 with an 8.911 in the semifinals to reach a second-consecutive final round.
There, Vetter clocked a superior reaction time, .012 to Lamb's .022, but veteran racer Lamb was again dead-on, this time with an 8.976 (8.97) to defeat a 9.844 (9.81) and claim his 31st national event win.
"Trey is probably the only person on the planet I want to win more than myself," said Lamb. "He is such a great driver and an amazing person, and I'd love for him to win a national event. Trey puts in 100 percent effort every time he shows up, and he's only going to become a better driver. This one is bittersweet; I'm happy to win, but I want him to win, too."
The victory was particularly meaningful for Lamb as it happened at Sonoma Raceway, where good friend and racing partner Kyle Seipel had followed in his mother Georgia's footsteps as the track manager. Seipel, an acclaimed racer who earned four national event wins at Sonoma Raceway and reached many final rounds, succumbed to cancer at the age of 50 in 2021.
"This was the first time I've won there since he passed away," said Lamb. "After winning the week before, you think, oh, no pressure. But this is Kyle's house – there is no where I want to win more than Sonoma."
Lamb campaigned his championship Cobalt in Super Stock on the Western Swing, while the Larry Stone-owned COPO Camaro he's raced for the last couple of season gets dialed in with a new engine combination. Lamb expects to take a bit of time off from the NHRA circuit for a short while and return in the fall for the Lucas Oil Series double-header in Bakersfield – although he may bracket race locally before then to stay sharp and get his fix.
"These last two weeks have been a blast, but they've been tough," said Lamb. "It's very, very difficult to win because everyone out there is a great racer. I felt a lot of pressure in Seattle because I hadn't won in a while, so in a way, it was a relief. Winning never gets old, but it sure never gets easier."
Lamb expressed gratitude to sponsors RAD Torque Systems, Silver State Plumbing, Redback Boots, Goodyear Racing Tires, LIQUI-MOLY, Moser Engineering, Palmer Electric, Stone Chevrolet, Matco Tools, Lafferty Drilling and Blasting, and A-1 Performance Trans and Converters.