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Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals Sportsman highlights

Shawn Cowie won Top Alcohol Dragster for the third straight year and Sean Bellemeur continued unchecked this season in Top Alcohol Funny Car to the lead the list of champions at the NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties.
25 Jun 2019
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
News
Sean Bellemeur

For the last three years Shawn Cowie won the Top Alcohol Dragster title in Topeka and this time, he was joined in victory by seven other Lucas Oil Series sportsman standouts, all of whom are previous national event champions. Like Cowie, Top Alcohol Funny Car national champ Sean Bellemeur has already won a race this season. They shared the stage with Bruno Massel (Comp), Gene Mosbek (Super Stock), Chris Chaney (Stock), Kyle Fickler (Super Comp), Shawn Carter (Super Gas), and Trevor Larson (Super Street). The wins were especially gratifying for Fickler and Carter, who both have waited more than a decade to get their second wins.

The Topeka Top Alcohol Dragster field was stacked with talent, but Cowie managed to successfully defend his 2017 and 2018 titles. After qualifying No. 3, he powered to the final where his 5.213, 279.15 was more than enough to defeat Troy Coughlin Jr., but also quick enough to set low E.T. and top speed of the event. Cowie also defeated Jerry Powell, Robin Samsel, and Garrett Bateman to earn his 15th career win. [video]

Bellemeur now has 13 wins after wheeling the Hussey Performance Camaro to a win over veteran Jay Payne in the Top Alcohol Funny Car final. Bellemeur was solidly in the 5.4s on  race day in his wins against Scott McVey, Lance Van Hauen, and Nick Januik before running a 5.446 to seal the deal against Payne in the final. [video]

Two-time national champ Massel also has 13 national event wins after driving his turbocharged Blackfire I/Dragster to the Comp title. Massel qualified No. 5 and avoided a significant index hit on his way to the final. The indexes became somewhat irrelevant after Massel grabbed a huge lead at the start with a .005 light against Shawn Vincent and powered to the title with a (-.486) 6.764.  [video]

Mosbek, celebrated his 65th birthday in style with his sixth career national event win in Super Stock and second in Topeka. Driving his rare ’64 Plymouth, Mosbek saved his best performance for last with a .001 light and a 10.234 on his 10.22 dial to cool off Chicago winner Vic Penrod. Mosbek raced some of the toughest opponents on the property on his way to the final including Super Comp ringer Christopher Dodd, recent Houston winner Jacob Pitt, and past Division 5 champ Michael Mans. [video]

Reigning Division 5 champ Chaney won the Stock final with a 10.215 on his 10.21 dial but avoided having to make a decision at the finish line after opponent Scott Libersher fouled by two-thousandths. Chaney had a bye in the semifinals but earlier drove past five-time world champ Justin Lamb and past national event winner and National Dragster columnist Brenda Grubbs. Chaney now has four national event wins including the 2011 Topeka Super Stock title. [video]

Fickler, a member of the SEMA Board of Directors, created another lasting memory when he drove his Super Comp dragster to a close final round win over Vernon Rowland to win for the first time since 2003. Rowland was four-thousandths of a second quicker at the start but broke out by a thousandth of a second while Fickler won with a safe 8.913. Fickler also stopped Topeka Super Street winner Trevor Larson and Mark Grame, last year’s No. 4 ranked driver en route to the victory.  [video]

Much like Fickler, Super Gas winner Shawn Carter also broke a lengthy winless drought in Topeka when he defeated Collin Becker in the final round. Carter’s last national event win came at the 2007 Dallas race. Driving his ’05 Cavalier, Carter was wheel to wheel with Becker in the final and survived a close 9.896 to 9.888 double breakout. Carter prepared for the final round with wins against two-time Topeka winner James Kunkel, Norman Brungardt, George Meyer, and Shannon Brinkley. Ironically, the Heartland Nationals was Carter’s first appearance of the season in NHRA competition. [video]

After six wins in Super Comp and Super Gas, Larson claimed his first win in Super Street after fellow Minnesota resident Mike Campbell fouled by a thousandth of a second in the final. Larson, coming off a very competitive run in his semifinal win over Jason Hennessey, was strong in the final with a .016 light and a 10.853 in his ’90 Corvette. Larson opened eliminations with a perfect 10.900 pass which put him on the ladder for a bye run in the third round. Later in eliminations, he stopped Andrew Withers with a 10.910. [video]