NHRA SpringNationals Sportsman champion highlights

Four-time NHRA Stock national champ Kevin Helms came up one round short of his second career double to lead NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series action in Houston.
11 May 2017
Posted by staff
Kevin Helms

Four-time NHRA Stock national champ Kevin Helms came up one round short of his second career double in Houston. Helms recorded career win No. 25 in the Stock final over Austin Ford, then returned a few minutes later for the Super Stock final, where he dropped a close battle with first-time winner Norvell Bowers. All told, Helms won 11 of 12 possible rounds in Houston and has emerged as the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series points leader in both Super Stock and Stock.

Kevin Helms
Helms has been on fire this year in Stock, and he won his third event of the young season after Ford broke out in his SAM Tech Cobra Jet Mustang, running a 9.63 on his 9.69 target. Helms, who had a .031-second advantage on the starting line, turned on the win light with a 10.09 (10.08). [Watch video]

Norvell Bowers
The only driver to rain on Helms’ parade was Super Stock winner Bowers, who used a pair of near-perfect reaction times to reach his second career final round. Against Helms, Bowers broke out with a 10.587 on his 10.59 dial, but Helms was under his dial by seven-thousandths. [Watch video]

Joey Severance
The crowd at Royal Purple Raceway was treated to a special champions battle in the Top Alcohol Dragster final round, featuring Joey Severance and Mia Tedesco. Severance, the reigning TAD champ, won the bout with a 5.20 to stop 2016 Super Gas champ Tedesco, who trailed with a 5.445 in the Hirata family entry. Severance has now won 18 national event titles, including eight since the start of the 2016 season. Megan Meyer, who lost to Tedesco in the semifinals, made the quickest run of the event with a 5.168. [Watch video]

Doug Gordon
California-based veterans Doug Gordon and Jay Payne squared off in the Top Alcohol Funny Car final round. Gordon grabbed the starting-line advantage, then made his quickest and fastest run of the weekend with a 5.428, 272.12 mph for the win, while Payne, who has enjoyed a resurgence since hiring two-time national champ Jonnie Lindberg as a tuning consultant, shook the tires and slowed in his Peak Camaro. Gordon, who now has eight career wins, got progressively quicker in each elimination round with runs of 5.481, 5.442, 5.430, and his final-round 5.428. [Watch video]

Alan Savage
Alan Savage scored his second national event title in Super Comp when he drove past Britt Cummings and his Moser Engineering dragster in a double-breakout final round. Savage had the better light in the final and used it to his advantage to claim the win. Savage’s other national event title also came in his home state of Texas at the 2014 Dallas event. [Watch video]

Steve Collier
Steve Collier did everything he could to make sure he didn’t lose the Super Gas final, and that included posting a nearly perfect run that opponent Roger Warren could not match. Collier won the Houston event for the third time in the last four years with a package that featured a .008 light and a perfect 9.900. Warren was competitive with a .018 light and an 8.899 run but couldn’t do much against Collier. [Watch video]

Chris Vang
Chris Vang made the long trip to Houston from his home in Parker, Colo., pay off with his first national event victory in Super Street. Vang wheeled his ’67 Chevelle to the title following a frustrating -.001 red-light by final-round opponent Val Harmon. Vang was sharp in every round, including the second round, where he had a perfect .000 light against Chanse Bullock. [Watch video]

J.R. Baxter
In his last three appearances at Royal Purple Raceway in the Top Dragster presented by Racing RVs class, J.R. Baxter has yet to see anything other than a win light in his lane. After winning the Top Dragster class in Houston in 2015 and 2016, Baxter completed the ultra-rare three-peat when he topped fellow Texan William Kruse in the final round. In a rematch of the 2015 Houston final, Baxter ran his winning streak to 15 consecutive rounds after Kruse fouled by .004-second. On race day, Baxter’s dragster was solidly in the 6.1s, making it one of the quickest cars in the field. [Watch video]

Keith Raftery
A pair of Division 4’s best met in the final to decide the title in the Top Sportsman presented by Racing RVs class. Keith Raftery caught a tremendous break in the semifinals when he was late against Arlie Boggs, but he survived to make the final, then downed Vince Hoda with a 6.479 on his 6.46 dial. It was Raftery’s fifth national event victory but his first outside of the JEGS NHRA Cajun SPORTSnationals in Belle Rose, La. [Watch video]