Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals Sportsman champion highlights

Garrett Bateman won a Top Alcohol Dragster event in Las Vegas for the third consecutive season, and Shane Westerfield picked up his second Top Alcohol Funny Car title of 2017 to lead the list of winners at the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals.
10 Apr 2017
Posted by staff
Garrett Bateman in the Las Vegas winner's circle

Garrett Bateman won a Top Alcohol Dragster event in Las Vegas for the third consecutive season, and Shane Westerfield picked up his second Top Alcohol Funny Car title of 2017 to lead the list of winners at the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals. The rest of the champions represented a diverse group of veterans and first-time winners with Alan Ellis (Comp), Mike Loge (Super Stock), Chris Hall (Stock), Ryan Herem (Super Comp), Rick Cates (Super Gas), Chuck Phelps (Top Dragster), and Dean Hall (Top Sportsman) all claiming victories.

Garrett Bateman
Bateman, last year’s seventh-ranked Top Alcohol Dragster driver, powered to a 5.384 in the final to defeat Casey Grisel, who smoked the tires just off the starting line. Bateman entered eliminations as the No. 2 qualifier and beat John Leach, Norway’s Fred Hanssen, and reigning, two-time national champ Joey Severance. Bateman won the semifinal-round bout with a 5.368 after Severance also had problems getting down the track. Grisel made it to his first national event final following an upset win against low qualifier Johnny Ahten in the second round. [Watch video]

Shane Westerfield
Westerfield led from start to finish in Las Vegas after qualifying No. 1 in the Top Alcohol Funny Car field with a 5.521 in his CP/Carillo Camaro and then driving to race-day wins against Robert Turner, Nick Januik, and Doug Gordon, who ended the final prematurely when he rolled through the staging beams and red-lighted. It was Westerfield’s second consecutive national event win following his victory at the Pomona season opener. A round earlier, Gordon stopped John Lombardo Jr., 5.587 to 5.774, in a battle of West Coast heavyweights. [Watch video]

Alan Ellis
Ellis, the 2013 Comp champion, drove his swift A/AA ’23-T to a final-round win over Tony Mandella in a rematch of the 2015 spring Las Vegas final. Both drivers were ready in the final with Ellis taking a slight .004 to .008 lead at the start before claiming the win with a (-.605) 6.535. Ellis had previously lost .012-seconds in Competition Index Control penalties but was able to hold off Mandella, who recorded a (-.560) 8.490 in his C/TA S-10. [Watch video]

Mike Loge
Veteran West Coast Stock racer Loge is now a perfect three-for-three in finals after driving his SS/LA Barracuda to the title-round win in Super Stock against fellow Mopar driver Tim Hall. Loge won the race, along with the Dodge/Plymouth Top Finisher award, after Hall fouled. Loge did not have an easy time reaching the final with tough races against past national champions Ryan McClanahan and Brad Burton. [Watch video]

Chris Hall
Utah’s Chris Hall picked up his first national event title when Phil Mandella Jr., the younger brother of Comp runner-up Tony, fouled in the Stock final. Hall would have been tough to beat regardless after a perfect .000 reaction time in his B/SA ’70 Camaro. Hall needed to be sharp throughout the event with matches against Brian McClanahan and Brian Seaburg. [Watch video]

Ryan Herem
The final of Super Comp featured two-time national champ Luke Bogacki and hired gun Herem. After an even start, Bogacki crossed the finish line first but paid the price with a 9.049 breakout on the altitude-adjusted 9.05 index. Herem, driving the dragster owned by his fiancée, Whitney Shields, turned on the win light with a 9.056. Herem has now won five national event titles, including the 2011 Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. [Watch video]

Rick Cates
The fifth time was the charm for emotional Super Gas winner Cates, who completed a lengthy quest to win his first national event Wally by outrunning Tim Parker in the final round. Cates produced a time slip suitable for framing in round three when he bested six-time world champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. with a .001 light. He later stopped Super Comp winner Herem and then benefitted from some extraordinary luck when his next three opponents, including Parker, did not get down the track under power. [Watch video]

Chuck Phelps
The Top Dragster presented by Racing RVs class also featured a lot of great side-by-side racing, including the final round, where Phelps bagged his first national event win at the expense of multitime division champ Kyle Seipel. Phelps got off the starting line first by a slim margin, .001 to .006, and held on for the win with a 6.603 on his 6.57 dial while Seipel was .013-second behind with a 6.941 on his 6.90 dial. [Watch video]

Dean Hall
Dean Hall’s win in Top Sportsman presented by Racing RVs was a thing of beauty that was highlighted by a rare perfect run in round two. Hall was never worse than .012 on the Tree as he drove his Korbel-backed Corvette to his third national event title. In the final, Hall defeated the red-hot Ed Olpin with a .006 light and a 7.295 on his 7.26 dial. Olpin already has a pair of wins on the young season, including a Top Sportsman win at the Pomona season opener. [Watch video]