Hailing from tiny Evans, GA, just 75 miles away from Atlanta Dragway, makes “Stevie Fast” Jackson a popular driver this weekend, especially when leading the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Series qualifying list after Friday’s two sessions at the 39th annual Arby’s NHRA Southernationals.
“We call this our home race and we have a pile of people here, probably 150 or more. I’m talkin’ about everybody from schoolteachers I had in high school, people I’ve worked with, fans, even guys I used to race against. It’s really cool to see racers out here that I used to compete against and tried to crush and to see them out here rooting for us, it’s crazy, man,” Jackson said.
Jackson drove his roots-blown ’17 Camaro to a 5.76 pass at 250.69 mph in Q2, just one-hundredth of a second ahead of Chad Green and his nitrous-fed 2019 Camaro. Alex Laughlin in a twin-turbocharged ’18 Camaro was third at 5.79 seconds and a class-leading 256.84 mph, while Erica Enders rounded out the provisional top 16 of 25 Pro Mod entries with a 5.99 pass at 254.62 mph over the Atlanta quarter mile.
“Somebody said to me that they thought the blower cars wouldn’t run good here because of the heat and humidity,” Jackson said. “But I told them, my car’s from Georgia and it’s used to breathing this humid, hot air; it likes the air here, feeds on it like a horse!”
Crew chief Billy Stocklin added that he was satisfied with the current number-one run, but couldn’t help feeling “there was more to be had.”
“You’re never going to look at a run and say that’s everything it’s got,” he said. “We’ve put together some pretty good runs this year, but it’s always coulda’ done this, shoulda’ done that. You’re never satisfied.
“But we’re most concerned about what’s going to happen on Sunday and I’m certain that will keep us in very good shape. The number-one goal in qualifying is, well, first of all to qualify, but then to have lane choice going into the first round and I feel confident that will get us both qualified and have lane choice. After that it’s all gravy, so I’m happy.”
Jackson emphasized the “great job” Stocklin was doing on the tune-up, but also praised the rest of his crew, including Robert Johnson on engines, longest-serving crew member and car chief Jack Barbee, Robbie Lowry, and father-and-son teammates Drew and Austin McClure.
He also said he loves his own job, though somewhat surprisingly admitted driving “The Shadow” was not his favorite part of time spent at the track.
“Hanging out with the fans is the most fun part of my job,” Jackson stated shortly after a brief, impromptu autograph session. “I mean, I really enjoy it. There was a kid whose momma said I was his idol and he wears a ‘Shadow’ shirt on backwards so that everybody sees the car first. How awesome is that? When I hear that, I just think what could possibly go wrong with the race car to make me have a bad day? I mean, that’s as good as it gets.”
Two more rounds of Pro Mod qualifying are scheduled for Saturday at the Southern Nationals, at approximately 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., weather permitting.
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) January 4, 2019