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Auto Club NHRA Finals Sportsman Highlights

Shawn Cowie, Shane Westerfield, and Doug Lambeck led the list of Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series winners at the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona.
27 Nov 2019
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
News
Shawn Cowie

All but one NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Sportsman world title was decided ahead of the final day of the Auto Club NHRA Finals, but that doesn’t mean the traditional NHRA season closer lacked for drama. Vic Penrod claimed the championship in Super Stock on the final day of the season when Kyle Rizzoli, his closest pursuer, came up two rounds short of a much-needed victory. 

Pomona titles went to Shawn Cowie and Shane Westerfield, who scored in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car, respectively. Cowie won his 10th race of the season en route to a second-place finish, and Westerfield finished third following his fourth win of the season. Cowie and Westerfield are both past world champions, and the same goes for Pomona winners Jeff Taylor (Stock), Ryan McClanahan (Super Comp), and Steve Williams (Super Gas). They were joined in the winner’s circle by Doug Lambeck (Comp) and Jeff Dona (Super Stock).

Cowie, who was in the fight for his first Top Alcohol Dragster world title until the final weeks of the season before Megan Meyer pulled away, earned his 10th Wally of the season after stopping Chris Demke in the Top Alcohol Dragster final round. Cowie, who earlier beat Jackie Fricke, James Stevens, and Casey Grisel to advance, won the final with a solid 5.275 run after Demke fouled by four-thousandths of a second and shut off. Julie Nataas was the low qualifier with a 5.138 but suffered a tough holeshot loss against Demke in the quarterfinals. [video]

Westerfield, the  Top Alcohol Funny Car winner in Pomona a year ago, successfully defended his title with a 5.493 to 5.627 win against Mike Doushgounian in the Top Alcohol Funny Car final round. Westerfield, also a winner in Chicago and Brainerd this season, came from the No. 3 qualifying spot to beat Chris Marshall, Steve Gasparrelli, and Ulf Leanders on his way to the final. After clinching his second world title earlier this season, Sean Bellemeur was the low qualifier, but his chances to end the season with a win ended with a narrow loss to Doushgounian in the quarterfinals.  [video]

Following his victory in Comp, Doug Lambeck now has 15 national event titles to his credit, and six of them have come in Pomona. Lambeck drove his D/SMA Pontiac to a (-.606) 8.324 in the final to stop 100-time national event winner David Rampy, who closed out his Hall of Fame career with a (-.545) 7.205. Rampy has announced that the Pomona race was his final event as a touring NHRA Sportsman driver. As for Lambeck, he finished the season with national event wins in Las Vegas and Pomona, in addition to three runner-up finishes.  [video]

The battle for the Super Stock world title ended in the semifinals when contender Rizzoli lost a tough battle to 104-time national event winner Dan Fletcher, who in turn lost the final to Jeff Dona. Fletcher was nearly perfect off the starting line with a .001 reaction time, but the win light came on in Dona’s lane following a double breakout. Dona, appearing in his second final of the season, won with a 9.750 on his 9.78 dial, and Fletcher, attempting to tie Frank Manzo with national event win No. 105, took the loss with a 10.088 on his 10.12 prediction. With the win, Dona wrapped up a top-10 finish in Super Stock. [video]

Rizzoli also made the final round of Stock, where he red-lighted to Taylor, who won his 48th career national event title by driving Jim DeFrank’s COPO Camaro to a 9.216 on his 9.19 dial. Taylor, who now has six wins in Pomona, also drove to wins against Ryan Mangus, Phil Mandella Jr., and John Shaul. The win was Taylor’s second of the season following his recent victory at the JEGS SPORTSnationals in Columbus. [video]

After eight national event wins in Stock and Super Stock, McClanahan picked up his first victory in the Super Comp category by driving his dragster to a win over Allison McKoane in the final. After an even start, McClanahan won with an 8.933 after McKoane broke out by three-thousandths. McClanahan’s only other appearance of the season in the 8.90 category was a round-two loss at the season opener in Pomona. McKoane reached the final round for the first time since her breakthrough win at the Phoenix Division 7 Lucas Oil Series event in 2017.  [video]

Williams, the 2018 Super Comp world champ, grabbed the title in Super Gas after a 9.870 to 9.852 double-breakout final against Steve Parsons. Williams, who now has 13 national event wins since 2003, reached the final by stopping past Pomona winner Brad Pierce and Ken Mostowich. Parsons earned his spot alongside Williams with a 9.905 to stop Super Gas pioneer Ted Seipel, who won his first national event in Pomona in 1983.  [video]