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Dodge NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil Sportsman Highlights

14 Nov 2019
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
News
Las Vegas

Ray Miller III continued his march toward possible championships in Super Comp and Super Gas, and Duane Shields and Sean Bellemeur earned titles in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car, respectively, during the Dodge NHRA Nationals Presented By Pennzoil. The rest of the winners crowned in Las Vegas included Cody Lane (Comp), Jason DeForrest (Super Stock), Craig Maddox (Stock), and Vernon Rowland (Super Comp).

Miller won his fourth national event title of the season when he defeated Evan Kowalski in an incredible Super Gas final round. Kowalski was nearly perfect with a .002 reaction time and a 10.056 on the 10.05 altitude adjusted index. The trouble for Kowalski is that he left too much room for Miller, who was even closer to the bullseye with a .001 light and a 10.053 for the win. Miller is the points leader in Super Comp and has an outside chance to win the world championship in Super Gas. [video]

Shields won his 23rd national event and first since Reading in 2015 when he defeated Julie Nataas in the Top Alcohol Dragster final round. Both drivers red-lighted, but Nataas left first, negating a solid 5.22 run to Shields’ 5.26. Earlier, Joey Severance made the sport’s quickest supercharged alcohol run at 5.121 seconds. Shields was the No. 9 qualifier in the competitive field but ran nothing but 5.2s on race day in his wins against Josh Hart, reigning world champ Joey Severance, and Kim Parker to advance to the final. Earlier in the event, Severance made the sport’s quickest supercharged alcohol run with a 5.121. [video]

Bellemeur locked up his second straight Top Alcohol Funny Car championship a few weeks ago and won his fourth consecutive race and eighth overall this season when he topped Steve Gasparrelli in the final round. Bellemeur ran as quick as 5.409 in eliminations and finished the job with a 5.447. Bellemeur’s path to the final included wins against Robert Turner, Terry Ruckman, and former champ Shane Westerfield. [video]

Less than a year after the Hancock & Lane Cobalt was heavily damaged in a crash in Pomona, Lane completed the comeback by winning the Las Vegas Comp title over Tony Mandella. Lane, the No. 1 qualifier, reached the final with wins against Josh Lee, Howie Stevens, and Tom Mettler. He finished the job with an (-.504) 8.136 that was enough to take out Mandella’s (-.447) 8.033. The win was the sixth of Lane’s career and his first in Comp. He has also won three times at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. [video

Over the last six seasons, DeForrest has won the Super Stock title three times at the Dodge NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas. This time, DeForrest drove his GT/CA Cavalier to a final-round win over Division 3 racer Matt Alvey in a battle where both drivers fouled at the start. Alvey left first and drew a -.006 light to DeForrest’s -.002 light. DeForrest also defeated Alvey’s brother, Mark, as well as Bob Cruzen, former word champ Ryan McClanahan, and Division 1 racer Todd Hoven to reach the final round. DeForrest, who also has a win and a runner-up this season, moved into the top 10 nationally following his latest victory in Las Vegas. [video]

Maddox, a two-time runner-up in Super Gas, drove his Drag Pak Challenger to the Stock win after Knudsen fouled in the final with his four-speed Camaro. Maddox turned in his best performance in round four, where he stopped a dangerous opponent in Jeff Jerome with a .010 light and a 9.456 against his 9.45 dial. Maddox also topped past Division 7 champ Leo Glasbrenner to earn a bye run into the final round. Maddox, coming off a runner-up at the Division 3 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event in St. Louis, still has a shot to earn a top-10 finish, and Knudsen now has two wins and two runner-up finishes in 2019. [video]

Following a win in Houston and a runner-up in Topeka, Rowland capped off one of the best seasons of his career with another Super Comp victory in Las Vegas. Rowland took on 104-time national event winner Dan Fletcher in the final round and came away with a 9.050 to 9.073 victory. Rowland, who now has three national event titles this year, including his Super Gas win in Brainerd, topped Kevin Wright with a .001 reaction time in the fourth round and then earned a bye into the final by stopping Travis Theobold in the quarterfinal round. Fletcher has now appeared in 155 national event finals since 1994. [video]