The 2018 O'Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags season at Atlanta Motor Speedway played host to tough, thrilling competition over the course of the summer.

Throughout the year competitors were challenged to find more speed to rocket their rides down the 1/8-mile pit lane drag strip faster than anyone else and fans were rewarded with close, exciting races.

"Around here you have to be consistent because everybody's competitive. If you aren't doing something each week to your car to make it faster those people out there are going to beat you," Harding Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Domestic division champion David Smith, of Jackson, said.

This year Smith outdueled fellow domestic division competitors to earn his first Friday Night Drags season championship. In ordinary circumstances it's an achievement to be proud of, but for Smith winning the title carries a far greater meaning.

"My dad passed away February 7 this year," Smith said. "So I dedicated this whole year to my dad. That's what it's all about because he always came out here and loved racing.

"I love my dad. I did it for him and no one else."

Smith said his father would join him in his garage as he worked on his Isuzu pickup, giving him pointers on how to make it go faster; to this day Smith says he still feels his father's presence.

"I feel he's sitting in the passenger seat every time I hop into that thing," Smith said. "I can hear him when I win a race saying, 'Good job son.'"

With a successful 2018 season in the books, Smith says he's already planning ahead to 2019.

"There's some things I want to do to the truck to make it go faster for next year," Smith said.

During the season competitors tweak their high-performance vehicles weekly looking for more speed, but the offseason is an opportunity to explore even more.

"We can't always come out with the same pair of shoes on," QuikTrip Pro division champion Kevin Mayo, of McDonough, said. "There's gotta be something new."

Competitors will test those new approaches when O'Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway's pit lane drag strip on May 10, 2019.

2018 O'Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags division champions:

Super Pro: Robert Cheney (Jonesboro); 2014 American Dragster

QuikTrip Pro: Kevin Mayo (McDonough); 1969 Chevrolet Nova

Harbin's Mechanical Services Street Outlaw: Wayne Harris (Griffin); 1968 Chevrolet Camaro

Summit Racing Equipment Sportsman: Richard Corcoran (Locust Grove); 1986 Ford Mustang

New Edge: James Walker (Fayetteville); 2016 Dodge Challenger

Street Performer: Brandon Sampler (Griffin); 1995 Chevrolet S10

Harding Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Domestic: David Smith (Jackson); 1990 Isuzu

Diamond Resorts Factory Street: Chad Greenway (Conyers); 2001 Pontiac Firebird

Street Modified: Kelly Morgan (Jonesboro); 1968 Ford Mustang

Starfire Automatic Gates Truck: Ed Blanford (McDonough); 1968 Ford F100

Tuner: Steven Mallet (Marietta); 2004 Subaru WRX

Sport Compact: Heather Utt (Fayetteville); 2014 Ford Mustang

Super Bike: Robin Malcolm (Lithonia); 2003 Busa

US Marines Motorcycle: Keith Stamps (Tyrone); 2002 Honda

ATV: Wayne Cline (Griffin); Yamaha Banshee