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Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals Sportsman Highlights

Megan Meyer led the way with a Top Alcohol Dragster Wally at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals in Houston.
30 Apr 2019
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
News
Megan Meyer

It’s still too early to make championship predictions for the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, but when that time comes, the discussion will almost certainly include Megan Meyer and Brian Hough following their performances in Houston. Meyer won her third Top Alcohol Dragster title in four starts, and Hough bagged his second Top Alcohol Funny Car title of the season. The points leaders in their respective categories, Meyer and Hough shared the spotlight with Pete Peery (Super Stock), Jacob Pitt (Stock), Vernon Rowland (Super Comp), Robert Rowan (Super Gas), and Ross Laris (Top Dragster presented by Racing RVs).

Meyer, coming off wins in Gainesville and Dallas, extended her winning streak to 11 rounds by stopping Troy Coughlin Jr. in the Top Alcohol Dragster final, 5.231 to 5.266. Meyer was the low qualifier with a 5.118, which is the quickest run of her career and ties for the fourth quickest pass in the history of the class. On race day, Meyer settled into a steady 5.2-second groove in her wins over Buddy Domingue, teammate Julie Nataas, and Coughlin. Meyer’s 2019 scorecard already includes three wins and a runner-up in four starts. [video]

With nitro Funny Car driver Jonnie Lindberg as his crew chief, Hough backed up his win at the Pomona season opener with a second Top Alcohol Funny Car title in Houston. In a battle of the top two qualifiers, Hough defeated Annie Whiteley in the final, 5.705 to a coasting 10.066. Hough set low e.t. of the event on his first-round bye run with a 5.407 and later stopped Bryan Brown to earn a spot in his 20th final. Whiteley also made a pair of 5.4-second runs in her wins against Aryan Rochon and Kirk Williams. [video]

Peery finished No. 3 in the Super Stock standings last year, and he’s off to another solid start with his fourth career national event victory. Peery left with a .002 reaction time in the final and was last off the starting line because opponent Darrin Christen was perfect with a .000 light. Christen followed with a very competitive 9.922 on his 9.90 dial, but even that wasn’t enough for the win. Peery crossed the stripe first by two-thousandths of a second with a 9.198 on his 9.18 dial. [video]

After a frustrating and winless 2019 season, Pitt has returned to forum with his second straight win in Stock. Facing Brett Candies in a rematch of the 2014 Houston Stock final, Pitt put together a solid run with a 10.468 on his 10.45 dial to hold off Candies by six-thousandths. Pitt was also a quarterfinalist in Super Stock. [video]

There was guaranteed to be a first-time winner in Super Comp when Rowland took on Chris Vang in the final round. Rowland, who defeated brothers Jacob and Tony Elrod to reach the final, capped off the win with a .008 light and an 8.890 to win in a double breakout. Vang, who works as the clutch mechanic on Deric Kramer’s American Ethanol Pro Stock Camaro, left with a .021 light and ran further under the index with an 8.873. [video]

If there was an award for best driving performance of the event, it almost certainly would have gone to first-time Super Gas winner Rowan, who didn’t have a reaction time worse than .017 during time trials or final eliminations. Rowan was at his best in the final with a .002 light and a 9.908 that was almost unbeatable for runner-up Koy Collier, who turned in a 9.882 breakout. Rowan was also .003 and .004 in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. [video]

In 2004, Laris won his first national event title at the JEGS Cajun SPORTSnationals in Belle Rose, La. Since then, he has watched his son, Holden, become a three-time national event winner in Super Comp, Super Gas, and Top Dragster presented by Racing RVs. The elder Laris took a step toward evening the score when he turned on the win light in the final round of Top Dragster in Houston. Laris was the low qualifier in the 23-car field with a 6.106, right on the 6.10 performance ceiling. Dialing a 6.13 in the final, Laris blasted to a 6.106 after opponent Williams Kruse fouled by seven-thousandths. The chances of a father-son final round were squashed when Holden Laris fell victim to Kruse’s .009 light in the quarterfinals. [video]