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Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals Sportsman highlights

Shawn Cowie claimed the Top Alcohol Dragster title and Brian Hough won in Top Alcohol Funny Car to lead the list of Lucas Oil Series champs at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil
11 Nov 2020
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
News
Brian Hough

Shawn Cowie claimed the Top Alcohol Dragster title and Brian Hough won in Top Alcohol Funny Car to lead the list of Lucas Oil Series champs at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil. Cowie and Hough were joined in the winner’s circle at Houston Raceway Park by Craig Bourgeois, who wrapped up his second world championship with a victory in Comp eliminator. Other winners crowned on Sunday were Gary Emmons (Super Stock), Woody Gary (Stock), Shannon Brinkley (Super Comp), Charlie Stewart (Super Gas), and Mark Beuhring (Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers).

Cowie scored his 20th career win and second this season in Top Alcohol Dragster title when he defeated Julie Nataas in the final, 5.207 to 5.259. Cowie, who kicked off the season with a win in Pomona and also scored at the Regional event in Acton, Mont., opened eliminations with a win over Buddy Domingue and also topped Matt Cummings, the low qualifier. Cummings set low E.T. of the race against Cowie with a 5.183, but Cowie got off the starting line first and held on for the holeshot win with a 5.210. [video]

Hough won the Top Alcohol Funny Car final round when Chris Marshall red-lighted in the final round but the real drama came in the semifinals where the world championship was clinched in Doug Gordon’s favor. Gordon, the incoming point leader, suffered a rare first-round loss but won the title from the sidelines when reigning and two-time champ Sean Bellemeur lost in the semifinals. Bellemeur never got to race Marshall when his Hussey Performance Camaro wouldn’t fire against Marshall, making Gordon the champ. For Hough’s part, he ran a 5.46 in his round one win against Mark Billington and then topped Jay Payne in the quarterfinals with a 5.49. [video]

Bourgeois already had four wins on his scorecard before the Houston race but the Division 4 veteran tacked on another Comp title to seal the deal for his second title. Driving his unique front engine A/Nostalgia Dragster, Bourgeois finished the job by beating incumbent champ Frank Aragona Jr. in the final. Bourgeois, left first by a comfortable margin, and then won his 11th national event title with a (-.584) 6.816 to Aragona’s (-.586) 7.444. [video]

After watching his identical triplet brothers, Terry and Jerry, each get a win at the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA U.S. Nationals, Gary Emmons joined the fun in Houston when he drove the team’s Lucas Oil Products Cavalier to victory in Super Stock. Emmons, a winner in Houston in 1992, coasted to the win in the final after Jeff Miller slowed. Earlier, Emmons topped veteran Elisha Boyd, who was seeking his first national event win since 1989. [video]

Gary’s Hemi-powered lime green A/SA ’70 Dodge Challenger has become one of the most popular cars in Stock Eliminator and it’s also very competitive. Gary drove the show quality Dodge to the win in Houston when he got the best of Wes Neely in the final. Gary trailed at the start but won in a double breakout when he ran a 10.228 on his 10.25 dial, less offensive than Neely’s 11.552 on his 11.58 dial. Super Stock winner Gary Emmons also went to the quarterfinals in Stock before losing to Gary. [video]

After five runner-up finishes dating to 2004, Brinkley is finally an NHRA national event champion. Brinkley brought home the Wally in Super Comp when he drove his L’Auberge Casino dragster past Dylan Hough in the final round. Brinkley was solid on both ends of the track with a .017 light and an 8.905 to secure the title. [video]

It might not have been the best run of his career, but Stewart will long remember his win over Vernon Rowland in the Super Gas final. Both drivers missed the tree, but Stewart was on the number at the finish line with a 9.914 to 9.9467 victory. Stewart, who builds race cars for a number of his fellow Super Gas competitors, highlighted his win with a 9.901 in the quarterfinals against Jordin Dewald. [video]

The Top Sportsman class welcomed another first-time winner when Buehring drove to victory over David Cuadra in the final round. Buehring drove his Chevy Cobalt to a 7.23 off his 7.02 dial after Cuadra fouled by just seven thousandths. Buehring was at his best in the third round where he used a .007  light to take a narrow double breakout win against Marty Blair, who was actually quicker off the starting line with a .004 reaction time. [video]