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Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals Sportsman highlights

Weather-related issues pushed the final rounds of the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals presented by Pennzoil Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series finals to Monday, but eventual champions Clint Neff (Comp), Marion Stephenson (Super Stock), and Kyle Rizzoli (Stock) likely didn’t mind the delay.
13 Oct 2020
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
Super Stock

Weather-related issues pushed the final rounds of the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals presented by Pennzoil to Monday for Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series competitors but eventual champions of the event including Clint Neff (Comp), Marion Stephenson (Super Stock), and Kyle Rizzoli (Stock) likely didn’t mind the delay. The talented trio was joined in the winner’s circle at World Wide Technology Raceway by Christopher Dodd (Super Comp), Ryan Siffring (Super Gas), and Patrick Forster (Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers). With the unpredictable 2020 season beginning to enter the home stretch, almost all of the event champions are ranked in the Top 10 in their respective categories. 

Neff, the winner of back-to-back titles in Dallas in 2017-18, and the 2012 St. Louis winner, added another Comp title to his impressive resumé when he stopped Jim Greenheck and his C-Tech Camaro in the final round. Neff lost .18-hundredths in CIC penalties before the final while Greenheck was down 19-hundredths. The end result was a fair fight where Neff won with a (-.515) 7.445 to Greenheck’s (-.509) 7.121. Earlier in eliminations, Neff drove his K/AA ’31 Ford roadster to wins against current championship leader Craig Bourgeois, Chase Williams, and two-time Indy winner Todd Frantz. In spite of the loss, Greenheck is also solidly in the Top 10. [video]

A year after winning the Division 2 Super Stock title, Stephenson found himself in the winner’s circle at a national event for the first time since 2016 after he drove his GT/HA Cobalt past Rylee Speer in the final. The final was decided by just three-thousandths with Stephenson turning on the win light with a 9.535 on his 9.53 dial. Speer also matched her dial with a 10.049. Stephenson, now ranked No. 9 nationally, beat Jeremy Duncan and Justin Jenkins to earn a bye run into the final round. The final round was the second for Speer, who previously won in Norwalk in 2015. [video]

Over the past few seasons, Rizzoli has established himself as one of the most competitive drivers in Stock and Super Stock and he reaffirmed that in St. Louis by winning his tenth national event title. Rizzoli, who is ranked in the Top 10 in both classes, won the Stock final by driving his AA/SA ’69 Camaro past Brett Candies in the final. Both drivers left together and Candies, the son of Hall of Fame Funny Car racer Paul Candies, crossed the finish line first in his Cobra Jet Mustang, but paid the price with a 9.228 breakout on his 9.24 dial. Rizzoli’s numbers included a 9.858 on his 9.85 prediction. [video]
Thanks to his St. Louis win, Dodd remains a contender for the Lucas Oil Series championship in Super Comp. The St. Louis winner in 2016 and 2019, Dodd added a third title in the Gateway City after opponent Larry Bernhausen fouled in the final by a thousandth of a second. Dodd would have been tough to beat with a package that included a .007 light and an 8.920. En route to the final, Dodd stopped Landon Stallbaumer, Don Higgins, and Michael Eggleston. Dodd leaves St. Louis in third place in the race for the national championship, just 25-points behind leader Troy Williams Jr. [video]

The Super Gas class featured a first-time winner after Siffring drove his Corvette roadster past Vernon Rowland in the final. Siffring drove perhaps the best race of his career in the final with a .014 light and a perfect 9.900 to hold off Rowland, who was just four-thousandths behind with a .011 light and a 9.907. Siffring downed Randi Lyn Shipp, Christopher Best, and Jamie Southards to work his way to the final. The 2020 season has been a breakthrough year for Siffring who earlier won his first divisional title at Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka. [https://www.nhra.com/news/2020/madison-sghttps://www.nhra.com/news/2020/madison-sg]

Another first-time winner was crowned in Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers when Forster drove to a final round win against JB Strassweg. Forster left on time with a .009 light and drove the finish line to a 6.253 on his 6.24 dial to edge Strassweg’s .025-over 6.125. Forster did not have an easy time reaching the final round with tough battles against Dan Ward, three-time Indy champ Brad Plourd, Phillip Oakley, and reigning Top Dragster world champ Danny Nelson. Following the win, Forster is also solidly in the Top 10. [video]