Dylan Stott's Ford took top honors Sunday at the NHRA Southern Nationals (photo courtesy Robbie Stott)

Dylan Stott can remember perching on his dad’s shoulders as a young boy to get a glimpse of drag racing legends at Atlanta Dragway.

John Force, Kenny Bernstein, many of the sport’s greats – Stott watched them all rumble down the famed Atlanta strip.

Sunday afternoon, Stott added another memory to that list, one he’ll be proud to share for years to come.

In the final National Hot Rod Association event at Atlanta, Stott left a champion, winning the Top Sportsman competition at the NHRA Southern Nationals.

Stott defeated top qualifier Sandy Wilkins Jr. in the final at the track known as Georgia’s House of Speed. Atlanta Dragway is for sale and the NHRA announced earlier this year that the April event would be its last competition after 40 years at the track.

“I have been going to Atlanta Dragway since I was three years old,” Stott said. “We have done well over the years at this race, (but) just never could seem to quite finish it off.

“To win the last Southern Nationals and be the last Top Sportsman driver to walk away with a Wally is unbelievable. To have my dad and grandpa there with me to celebrate topped it all off. It was a great weekend for sure.”

The race was the fifth of the 2021 season for Stott, but his first final after being eliminated in the second and third rounds in his opening three races in Florida earlier this year.

“When we left Gainesville (in March), I really was not happy with how the car was performing,” Stott said. “So we came back, stripped it down and basically started fresh.

“I had my struts and shocks redone before our last race in Valdosta and did not get to test before that, so that was pretty much a test session trying to get the car ironed out for Atlanta this past weekend. It worked out perfect.

“It has been a good start, but I feel like we have left a little on the table. We have had some freak parts breakages that knocked us out of a couple races. So hopefully now that we have the monkey off our backs, we can start heading in the right direction, and this weekend was the first step.”

Stott’s win moved him into the lead in the national Top Sportsman standings in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, his 282 points currently 52 better than second-place Doug Gbur. It’s a step in the right direction toward winning a world championship, but Stott knows there is much to do before he can begin thinking about lifting a trophy.

“Leading at this point feels really good, but it’s still very early in the season and the guys out west are just getting their season started, so we have a long way to go,” he said. “We’ve just got to put our heads down and go to work.

“I was not really planning on chasing points this year, but after the start we have had, I’m probably going to shuffle my schedule around and mainly race on the East Coast and save a few races for out west at the end of the year.”