Barker is first NHRA Top Sportsman national champion

NHRA Drag Racing

Jeffrey Barker has earned the national championship and a little bit of NHRA history as the veteran Southeast Division driver has locked up the inaugural NHRA Top Sportsman championship.

Earlier this year NHRA announced the formation of the national championship title for both Top Sportsman and Top Dragster, and while the Top Dragster title along with the championships in all seven classes in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series are still up for grabs, Barker has clinched the Top Sportsman title on the strength of four wins in seven final rounds on the season.

Barker went on a hot streak early in the year taking wins at both divisional events at Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville, Fla. He then scored runner up finishes at the national events in Gainesville and Atlanta, and a win in Rockingham, NC.

The Kathleen, Ga., resident has racked up 655 points and a 68-point lead over Ed Olpin and more than a 100-point lead over the rest of the field. Olpin, racing out of Pleasant Grove, Utah, and the NHRA Pacific Division, also got out to a fast start picking up two wins at the back to back Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series national and divisional events at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz., but then followed with a pair of early-round losses.

In the race for the Lucas Oil Championships in Top Alcohol Dragster and Funny Car, Joey Severance and Annie Whiteley lead the charge with Severance in the driver’s seat over reigning Top Alcohol Dragster National Champion Chris Demke.  Severance leads by just 11 points but has two more events left to claim than Demke.  Whiteley leads Jonnie Lindberg by 21 points with both drivers having several events still to claim toward the national championship.  Whiteley has four wins in seven final rounds to Lindberg’s three in five final rounds.

All nine that clinch 2015 NHRA National Championship will be recognized at the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Awards Ceremony at the world famous Hollywood and Highlands, OHM Nightclub, Monday, Nov.16. (AutoImagery photo)