It was a familiar scene in an unfamiliar setting. The announcer informed the crowd that Justin Lamb of Henderson had won another final at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Mom and dad hugged and high-fived a small throng of well-wishers while younger sister Ryen took photos. What made this day different from any other at The Strip at LVMS was the fact that the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) senior had just become the first-ever local driver to win his class during an NHRA national event at the Clark County quarter mile.

Southern Nevada-based racers had won NHRA national events at other tracks, but Lamb was the first to do so at home.

At the conclusion of Sunday’s NHRA Nationals, Lamb posed for photos on the winners’ podium, the coveted Super Stock “Wally” trophy clenched tightly in his fist.

“I guess I made history today,” said the 22-year-old Lamb, who had just won his seventh NHRA national-event title. “It’s (his Las Vegas win) never as good as your first – none of them are – but this is definitely right up there. The car is the Sunstate Companies Cobalt I’ve had for about three years now. I run it in Comp Eliminator and Super Stock.”

Up in the press room, Justin was asked if racing in Las Vegas – in front of the home fans – placed added pressure on his efforts.

“I don’t think racing at home puts more pressure on you. All of the races are so tough that there’s a lot of pressure, no matter where you’re at. You have to be on your game every round. Every car and every driver in Super Stock is tough to beat.

“This is a great start to the year,” Lamb continued. “I was runner-up in Super Gas here last year, but I hadn’t won the big one here at the Strip, so that’s a special treat for me, my parents, and our family. I want to recognize Rick Gruber and his Sunstate Companies, our partner V. Gaines and all of our great marketing partners – they make our success possible and they’ve all been so great to work with.”

Lamb has been racing and winning at The Strip at LVMS since his NHRA Jr. Dragster days.

“It was fitting that on a day that we recognized our Short Line Express Markets Jr. Drag Racing Series by introducing our drivers on stage – and executed a huge promotional push for new racers – that Justin would take the win,” said Chris Blair, LVMS’s vice president of racing operations. “Justin is the poster child for junior drag racers in Las Vegas. He honed his skills here at The Strip, worked his way up through the local and divisional programs and quickly became one of the top Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series stars. Seeing him take the win on Sunday was exciting for all of us at LVMS.”

To reach the final in the Super Stock class, Lamb had to defeat fellow local Skip Loefler in the first round. (The competition was so fierce that perennial favorite and many-time national champion  Dan Fletcher was eliminated in the first round.)

In the second round, Lamb posted a much better reaction time than his opponent and put Rob Youngblood of Nampa, Idaho, on the trailer.

Up next was heavyweight Jimmy DeFrank (Chatsworth, Calif.) and Justin sent him packing in the third round. Jackie Alley of Eagle, Idaho, went home early thanks to Lamb’s orange Chevrolet in the fourth round. James Butler of Prescott, Ariz., fouled on the starting line, handing the fifth round – and entry into the finals – to Lamb.

In the Super Stock finale, Lamb faced Brad Plourd of Maple Valley, Wash., and beat him 9.210 sec./147.07 mph to 8.892 sec./148.92 mph, although his opponent posted a better reaction time (.016 to Lamb’s .023).

Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another 10 years for a Las Vegas-area driver to win an NHRA national event at The Strip at LVMS.