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Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals Sportsman highlights

Shawn Cowie, Doug Gordon, and Joe Mozeris were joined in the winner’s circle at the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals by Brad Rounds, Conner Statler, Michael Miller, Craig Maddox, Ryan Carlson, and Jeff Connelly.
29 Apr 2021
Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor

Years from now, Shawn Cowie and Doug Gordon will be the answer to the trivia question “Who won NHRA’s first four-wide alcohol race?” after Cowie claimed the Top Alcohol Dragster title and Gordon won in Top Alcohol Funny Car at the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas. The event also featured a Comp win by Joe Mozeris, who won in Las Vegas for the third time in four years.

Cowie, Gordon, and Mozeris were joined in the winner’s circle by Brad Rounds (Super Stock), Conner Statler (Stock), Michael Miller (Super Comp), Craig Maddox (Super Gas), Ryan Carlson (Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers), and Jeff Connelly (Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers).

In order to win his 21st national event title, Cowie had to defeat a stacked quad in Top Alcohol Dragster that featured Julie Nataas, Jackie Fricke, and Casey Grisel. Not surprisingly, all four racers ran in the 5.2s with Cowie’s 5.218 holding on to beat Fricke’s 5.223, and Nataas and Grisel finished as semifinalists with runs of 5.263 and 5.297, respectively. [video]

The Top Alcohol Funny Car final pitted Gordon against Kris Hool, Sean Bellemeur, and Nick Januik. None of the four racers were able to make a full run, but Gordon, the reigning world champion, was able to cross the stripe first to win with a 6.35 at 242.50 mph, holding off Hool. Gordon now has 12 national event wins, including three in the last year. [video]

Mozeris won his first national event title at the spring Las Vegas event in 2018 and returned last year to win again at the JEGS NHRA SPORTSnaitonals event held last October. He completed the trifecta after stopping John Edwards in the Comp final round. Mozeris drove his B/Econo Dragster to a (-.489) 7.031 to narrowly hold off Edwards’ (-.488) 7.462 in his C/AA Camaro. Mozeris also claimed wins against Michael Ogburn, Scott McClay, and Tibor Kadar to reach the final. [video]

Rounds picked up his first national event win since the 2006 Sonoma race when he defeated five-time world champ Jimmy DeFrank in the Super Stock final. Rounds, who won a Division 7 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event last season in Las Vegas, wheeled his Cobalt to the win after DeFrank slowed. Rounds ran dead on the dial three times during six elimination rounds. [video]

The Stock final featured a battle between teammates Statler and four-time world champ Greg Stanfield, with both drivers in cars owned by longtime Division 4 racer Bobby Brannon. Statler got a free pass in the final round after Stanfield, who was seeking his first win in a decade, red-lighted. Statler, who kicked off the season with a semifinal finish in Belle Rose, La., is currently ranked No. 2 in the Stock standings. [video]

The Super Comp final was also decided on the starting line after Jack DeRencin fouled, allowing Miller to win his 11th national event title and fifth in Las Vegas. Miller highlighted the win with a perfect 9.050 run on the 9.05 index in the semifinals against Tanner Theobald’s 9.059. [video]

Two years after winning his first national event title in Stock in Las Vegas, Maddox returned to pick up a second NHRA Wally in Super Gas. Maddox won the final round over Marko Perivolaris by just three-thousandths of a second, 10.061 to 10.095. Maddox ran right on the 10.05 index twice during eliminations, including a perfect 10.050 run against Super Comp champ Miller. [video]

Carlson scored a semifinal finish in his season debut at the Las Vegas Lucas Oil Series event last month and returned to win his first national event title at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in the Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers class. Carlson finished the job with a solid performance in the final that included a .018 light and a 6.313 on his 6.30 dial to stop Thomas Bayer, who was close behind with a 6.927 on his 6.91 dial. In the semifinal round, Carlson tangled with former world champion Paul Nero and came away with another narrow victory. [video]

With elapsed times in the low 6.1s, Connelly became one of the quickest drivers to win in the Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers class. In the final round, Connelly drove his Camaro to a 6.192 on his 6.16 dial to score a holeshot win over Paul Mitsos, who wasn’t far behind with a 6.724 on his 6.72 prediction. The difference was Connelly’s .036-second starting-line advantage. Last month, Connelly opened his season with a quarterfinal finish at the Division 7 event in Las Vegas.  [video]