Mr Consistency Takes Steady iTEL Nationals Approach
During almost three and a half decades of drag racing competition there have been very few drivers to come close to rivalling the success of Brisbane's reigning ANDRA Top Alcohol Australian champion Gary Phillips.
The seasoned campaigner has laid claim to the longest running string of Championship wins with seven straight (1995-2001) and has amassed a total of 11 National Group One category crowns.
On New Year's Day Phillips is well poised to defend his iTEL Community Telco Drag Racing Nationals title at Queensland's Willowbank Raceway.
If successful it'll provide the perfect way for him to bounce back after suffering a rare finals defeat at the hands of the well credentialed Wayne Newby, during round one of the Championship in Sydney during September.
"We qualified number two during the originally scheduled November Event and with just the one round completed we were happy with the 5.81 second run," said Phillips.
"It's the same old story if you make the field you have as good a chance as any of taking home the spoils.
"With that in mind we didn't go out and thrash the Lucas Oils Dragster just pushed hard enough to be well placed among the field.
"Sure it was disappointing to lose the Championship round in Sydney but we'll now go back to the basics and count on things going better for us at Willowbank Raceway.
Phillips' overall dominance in the Top Alcohol category has been galvanised by a no-frills approach to his driving.
He has consistently endeavoured to set a high standard on the quarter mile strip, which has usually required his rivals to play catch-up.
By his own admission the intention during the crucial finals eliminator phase of the iTEL Nationals will be once again to stay a step ahead of the opposition.
"As the longest running event in Australian drag racing the iTEL Nationals has great appeal and prestige associated with it.
"For me the attraction of an iTEL Nationals Gold Christmas Tree will never be lost as this is the one Event where I've experienced consistent success during my career.
"For all racers the iTEL Nationals and Willowbank Winternationals double is something to strive for and to capture the first leg on New Year's Day will mark a great start to 2005."
A range of performance doubles may also present themselves for Phillips on New Year's Day if he has his Lucas Oils Top Doorslammer firing just as well as the dragster.
The carrot has been dangling for all drivers in the category for some time now, as each strives to break the magical class-legal five-second mark and become the first driver in the World to do so.
Many from within and outside the ranks are tipping Phillips to shine through and secure the mark on the back-end of his phenomenal achievements in Top Alcohol.
"That's exactly where the perception lies and it's quite humbling, but we're really talking chalk and cheese as they are two totally separate deals.
"Sure it'd be great to break into the fives especially after I secured the first five in Top Alcohol Dragster some time ago, so that'd be a nice double of achievements.
"The thing is close and it's just a matter of jagging it and having everything working in your favour.
"But you do need a lot of luck in Top Doorslammer because of the calibre of drivers and machines in the category.
"If there's one thing I have going for me it's that my goal in Top Doorslammer is to always be running the quickest whereas in Top Alcohol I'm shooting for the win.
"With those sort of motivators anything's possible.
"There are not many other milestones left to achieve in all the professional categories so everyone is chasing this."
The November 5-7 iTEL Nationals program was switched to January 1 following inclement weather conditions forcing the abandonment of all racing.
The 39th iTEL Nationals enjoys the continued support of the Queensland Government through Queensland Events.