DINWIDDIE, Va. — When the 2010 IHRA season began, Steve Nichols was just like everyone else in the new Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car class. He was the new guy in a new classroom just looking to find his footing.
Now, eight months and nine events later, Nichols has risen to the head of the class and looks poised to claim his first funny car championship when he takes his Mill Road Boys 1970 Camaro to the World Finals Nitro Jam Oct. 15-16 at Virginia Motorsports Park.
“We certainly knew we had a car that could be competitive this season, but what we didn’t know was whether or not we could put it all together and stay out front,” Nichols said. “Obviously we started the year strong and ended it even stronger and now we are just one weekend away from winning the inaugural Prostalgia championship with the IHRA. It is a pretty neat deal.”
And what a year it has been for the Mill Road Boys team.
Nichols began the season with a victory in the new class at the season-opening Palm Beach Nitro Jam in Florida and followed that up with two more wins during the months of July and August. He then peppered in half a dozen more final-round appearances to essentially run away with the inaugural Prostalgia title. Nichols was also aided by a strong showing during the Nitro Jam western swing to help him gain valuable points over the competition.
Thanks to those three wins and a good showing out west, Nichols has been able to hold off a hard-charging Peter Gallen, who has done everything in his power to make up the now 54-point gap between himself and Nichols. After missing the trip west, Gallen has won three of the last eight races and added another three runner-up finishes to close in on the championship lead he once held, but the bonus points Nichols earned out west could essentially seal his fate.
Gallen has won a class-leading six times this year and holds an impressive 21-6 round win-loss record, unfortunately of those six losses three have come to Nichols. Still, Gallen has had a tremendous year with nine final-round appearances in 18 races and should prove to be a factor once again at the IHRA season finale at VMP.
Nichols, on the other hand, has been to seven finals with three wins and has a 24-12 round win-loss record. And with another strong showing in Virginia, Nichols will lock up his first championship after seven years driving his ’70 Camaro. He made his debut in the Mill Road Boys entry in 2004 and went on to set several records, including being the first driver to record a five-second pass in a Chevy-powered nostalgia funny car.
Since setting that record, Nichols has switched back and fourth between the Chevy engine and his new Hemi this season with mixed results. Despite the varied success, Nichols has been able to stay out front all season long and it appears that success will finally pay off in Virginia.