Using a string of near-record elapsed times, Shawn Cowie successfully defended his Top Alcohol Dragster title at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com. Cowie used a 5.16 and a pair of 5.15 runs in the final three rounds to seal the win.
In the final, Cowie stopped Matt Sackman, who was driving for the Meyer family. Sackman was solidly in the 5.2s, but that wasn’t enough to keep pace with Cowie, who won for the 14th time in his career. Cowie’s runs were the quickest to date for a supercharged, methanol-burning Top Alcohol Dragster. [Video]
With two-time class champion Jonnie Lindberg assisting with the tune-up, Brian Hough recorded a career-best 5.39 in qualifying in Top Alcohol Funny Car and then ran the table on race day with a string of 5.4s, including a 5.41 in the final that held off Doug Gordon’s 5.49. Hough, who also defeated Shane Westerfield and Brett Williamson, now has nine national event wins, including the 2014 Pomona opener. [Video]
Other Lucas Oil Series champs crowned during Monday’s rain-delayed final rounds included Scott McClay (Comp), Ryan McClanahan (Super Stock), Doug Gibson (Stock), Kevin Wright (Super Comp), Pete Zak (Super Gas), John Taylor Jr. (Top Dragster presented by Racing RVs), and Bart Smith (Top Sportsman presented by Racing RVs).
In the final round of Comp, McClay defeated Doug Lambeck, the same driver he raced the last time he won a national event Wally in 2011. By the time they reached the final, McClay had lost .16-second to Competition Index Control penalties, and Lambeck was only slightly healthier with a .11-second reduction. McClay was quicker at the start by three-hundredths and powered to a (-.469) 7.721 for the win while Lambeck slowed to a (-.381) 8.449. [Video]
McClanahan, the 2010 Super Stock national champion, went winless at national events last season, but now has eight career titles after downing Rick McKinney in the Super Stock final round. McClanahan overcame a near-perfect light by Don Keen in the quarterfinals and then topped McKinney’s Oldsmobile in a final round that was decided by just a thousandth of a second at the finish-line stripe. [Video]
Gibson joined the ranks of first-time NHRA winners in Stock after besting Duane Dickens in the final round. Gibson, in his clean D/SA ’67 Camaro, grabbed a four-hundredths lead over Dickens to start the final, and that was more than enough to ensure a victory with a 10.702 on his 10.67 dial. [Video]
Less than three months after winning the NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas last November, Wright struck again in the Super Comp class and now has four wins to his credit. Wright was nearly unstoppable in the final round with a .001 light and an 8.908 on the 8.90 index, a run that opponent Val Torres Jr. could not match despite a solid 8.916 effort. Wright is now a perfect 4-0 in national event finals. [Video]
At the end of 2013, Zak drove to his first national event title in Pomona, and he returned to Auto Club Raceway at Pomona to open 2019 with a second title in Super Gas. In his ’27-T Ford roadster, Zak motored to the winner’s circle with a slowing 10.73 after final-round opponent Evan Kowalski fouled by a slim four-thousandths margin. The semifinal battle between Zak and Mike Wiblishouser was easily one of the best races of the weekend regardless of class with both cars separated by just .0005-second at the finish line stripe. [Video]
Taylor made the long trip from Pennsylvania to Pomona pay off with a victory in Top Dragster presented by Racing RVs. Taylor was outstanding during the five-round battle with no reaction time worse than a .015, including a .007 in the final that he used to get the better of Zach Sackman. Taylor won the bout with a 7.105 on his 7.05 dial while Sackman, wheeling one of the quicker cars in the field, was just two-thousandths of a second behind at the finish. Sackman’s brother, Matt, reached the final round in Top Alcohol Dragster. [Video]
Two years after winning his first national event title in Sonoma, Smith returned to drive his Monte Carlo to a second title in Top Sportsman presented by Racing RVs. Smith was also on top of his driving game, including a near-perfect .005-second package in the quarterfinals to top two-time Pomona Comp winner Jeff Gillette. Smith had to face Mike Ferderer in the final and came away with the win by just seven-thousandths thanks to a 6.976 on his 6.96 dial. [Video]