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Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Sportsman Highlights

Shawn Cowie scored a key win in his bid for a second national championship in Top Alcohol Dragster, and Shane Westerfield claimed his third win of the season in Top Alcohol Funny Car to highlight the champions at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd.
05 Sep 2019
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
News
Shawn Cowie

Shawn Cowie scored a key win in his bid for a second national championship in Top Alcohol Dragster, and Shane Westerfield claimed his third win of the season in Top Alcohol Funny Car to highlight the champions at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd. The event was also historic for four-time Super Comp world champion Gary Stinnett, who won the 25th national event title of his Hall of Fame career. The other champions crowned at scenic Brainerd Int’l Raceway included Jim Greenheck (Comp), Brett Speer (Super Stock), Chris Knudsen (Stock), Vernon Rowland (Super Gas), Henry Wiebusch (Top Dragster), and Larry Demers (Top Sportsman).  

In Top Alcohol Dragster, Cowie scored a crucial win against his biggest championship rival, Megan Meyer, who fouled in the final round. The No .9 qualifier, Cowie defeated Julie Nataas, Gord Gingles, and Jackie Fricke to reach the final. He posted a 5.244 in the semi’s and returned with a 5.252 in the final after Meyer left early. Meyer set low e.t. of the event with a 5.203 in her semifinal win against Chris Demke. [video]

Westerfield won his second national event and third title of the season when he defeated Doug Gordon in the Top Alcohol Funny Car final. Westerfield, coming off wins against Annie Whiteley and Brian Hough, won in the final with a 5.755 after Gordon shook the tires and slowed. Gordon earned a bye in the semifinals after beating Kris Hool. [video]

It took much longer than anyone expected, but Greenheck finally joined the ranks of NHRA national event champions when he drove his D/AA Camaro to a final-round victory in Comp against Shaun Vincent’s C/TA S-10. Coming off a perfect .000 light in the semi’s, Greenheck kept the pressure on with a .007 in the final and ran a (-.587) 7.543 for the win over Vincent’s quicker (-.592) 8.388. Greenheck had previously been a runner-up twice in national event competition, both times against Greg Kamplain. [video]

Speer came within one round of a double when he earned a win in Super Stock and a runner-up in Stock at his home event in Brainerd. Speer got the job done in Super Stock when he defeated low qualifier Jason DeForrest in the final round. Speer’s .02-over 10.16 turned on the win after DeForrest broke out by .011-second in his GT/CA Cavalier. Speer punched his ticket to the final after Dan Zrust fouled. [video]

The lost art of four-speed driving isn’t lost on Knudsen, who shifted his way to his first national event title behind the wheel of his C/S ’69 Camaro. Knudsen ended Speer’s hopes for a double in the Stock final with a solid package that included a .002 light and a 10.608 on his 10.59 dial. Speer broke out by .011-second for the loss. Knudsen, whose late father, Roger, won the Brainerd race in 1998, stopped Ryan Hutar in the quarterfinals. [video]

Stinnett may have needed some good fortune to get through six tough rounds, but his talents were also on display, particularly in the Super Comp final, where he was nearly unbeatable with a .007 light and an 8.910. Opponent Tyler Bohannon, the 2016 JEGS SPORTSnationals champ, was on time with a .012 light and then broke out with an 8.894. Stinnett’s 25 career wins have come in Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp, and Super Gas. [video]

When Rowland staged for the Super Gas final and saw his opponent was 2017 Pro Stock world champ Bo Butner, it didn’t do a thing to change his mindset. Rowland held on for the win in a close double breakout, 9.876 to 9.871. Rowland, who won the Super Comp title earlier this year at Houston Raceway Park, was even more impressive in the semifinal round, where he used a .000 light to take out Robert Rowan. [video]

A decade after winning the Super Comp title, Wiebusch returned to Brainerd to capture the win in Top Dragster presented by Racing RVs. Wiebusch was behind Luke Bogacki at the start but turned on the win light with a 7.159 on his 7.15 dial to a .019-over 7.36 for Bogacki. Wiebusch also beat low qualifier Phil Dion, and Bogacki topped John Biagi in the semifinals. [video]

Demers rebuilt his Cobalt following an on-track incident in 2018 and drove it to the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals victory in Top Sportsman presented by Racing RVs. Demers got off the starting line with a .009 light and powered to a 7.063 on his 7.05 dial against Curt Fredrich, who wasn’t far behind with a 6.701 on his 6.68 prediction. Demers was fantastic in the semifinals with a .017-second package that held off low qualifier Jeff Connelly. [video]