With 2023 in the rearview mirror, five-time NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series world champion Justin Lamb is spending hour after hour in his new race shop at his home in Henderson, Nev., preparing for an even stronger go in the new year. A somewhat challenging season in Super Stock was somewhat assuaged by the satisfaction of a championship-contending year in Stock that culminated in a top 10 finish, and the Las Vegas-area businessman believes there is plenty more to reach for in 2024.
For the bulk of his career as a Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series competitor, Lamb has finished in the Pacific Division top 10, and last season marked a seventh consecutive top 10 finish as he claimed third in the Stock Eliminator championship chase. Lamb has finished third or better – and earned three division titles – each year since 2017. Overall, he’s a seven-time Pacific Division champion, including two in Comp Eliminator, three in Stock, and two in Super Stock. He also won the ET Finals division championship in the Pro category in 2023. In his most prolific season – 2017 – Lamb was the division champ in both Stock and Super Stock.
While the first-generation drag racer and former Jr. league champion doesn’t take success at the division-level for granted, he has, historically, kept a tighter focus on national achievements. Lamb has 12 top 10 finishes across three categories at the national level, and in 2023, he claimed the No. 5 spot in Stock.
“We had a good season in Stock,” said Lamb. “We felt like it was going to be a decent year after we won the Phoenix division race in February, and by the time we got to the Western Swing, we thought there was another win coming.”
The win most certainly did come, and it happened during Lamb’s most productive two weeks of the year. In Seattle, he claimed the victory in Stock, and one week later, he earned the 31st national event win of his career at the Sonoma Nationals in Super Stock. The triumph came in Lamb’s reliable, championship-winning Chevy Cobalt while the Super Stock COPO was getting dialed in back at the shop.
At the In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals, the Larry and Carol Stone-owned RAD Torque Systems Super Stock COPO was effective and right on target, and Lamb was as well. After fortune fell his way in the first round at the Pomona season-closer, Lamb became nearly unstoppable. His ultra-steady .010 reaction time in the second round was replicated in both rounds three and four, and each time, he paired the swift start with an incredibly well-predicted number.
In the first round, he clocked an 8.829 on an 8.81 dial, and in round two, he was dead-on the number with an 8.818 (8.81). Round three came with an 8.858 on an 8.85 that knocked out pal Brad Burton’s 9.467 (9.48), and in the semifinals, Lamb was again spot on with an 8.895 on an 8.89. The trouble, though, was that fellow Division 7 standout and the gentleman who had just claimed the Stock national championship was in the other lane. It was an incredible and intense race, and Kyle Rizzoli was .001 at the starting line with a 9.062 on his 9.05 to win by mere inches.
Even still, Lamb was elevated by the performance of the Super Stock COPO that has been unpredictable and challenging over the past two seasons. The reliability of the Stocker and the awakening of the Super Stocker have Lamb eager to get back on track in the new year.
“I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish over the years,” said Lamb, whose first of now 31 national event wins came in 2006 (in Top Comp). “It’s never easy, and my dad and I have put a lot of effort into this program for a long time. To finish in the top 10 is great, and I’m very confident in the Stocker. The way it’s running, we’ll really only have to do some maintenance in the off-season.
“But what I’m really happy about is that all we wanted was one good race in Super Stock, and we finally got it at the world Finals. I was hoping to do better with it sooner; I worked so hard on that car for two years and gave up being competitive, in a way, so that I could figure it out. To end last year on such a positive note, that’s a good feeling going into this new year. I don’t go racing just to go racing. I race to be competitive, and that’s what I’m looking for this season.”
The Justin Lamb Racing (JLR) team has expanded in recent years to include Lamb’s son, NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League competitor Jayce Lamb. The two-time Race of Champions winner will lead off for JLR in late January as he makes his season debut. The up-and-comer graduated from the Jr. league’s 8-9 age division to 10-12 in the off-season, and with that move, Jayce will be permitted to go as quick as 8.90-second in the eighth mile. That’s quite a jump from the 11.90 he’s been racing.
“I’m excited for that, and Jayce is, too,” said Lamb, who’s youngest child with wife Jeanine, daughter Jovi, is the official shop helper until she decides racing is something she wants to do as well. “This is a family thing for us, and it has been since my parents gave me my first Jr. dragster for my eighth birthday. To see my kids taking interest in this is really special. Drag racing is a great sport, and it isn’t something you just pass down to the next generation – you get to live it right alongside them. There isn’t anything like it, and we’re all eager to get back on track in 2024.”
Lamb intends to start his own race season with the double divisional event in Phoenix in February. In addition to a strong slate of national events, he plans to compete at the Spring Fling Million bracket race in Las Vegas in April.
The Justin Lamb Racing team competes with the support of RAD Torque Systems, SilverState Plumbing, Stone Chevrolet, Matco Tools, Goodyear Race Tires, Liqui-Moly, Palmer Electric, Moser Engineering, Redback Boots, and A-1 Performance.