Mopar Dominance Continues in NHRA Northwest

Mopar capped-off the three race NHRA western swing with important wins by Matt Hagan aboard his “Magneti Marelli Offered by Mopar” Funny Car and Vincent Nobile at the wheel of his HEMI®-powered Pro Stock at the 26th annual NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways marking the 5th time this season that national titles were won by Dodge entries in both Mello Yello Drag Racing Series categories…..

“On behalf of everyone at Mopar, we offer our congratulations to both Matt (Hagan) and Vincent (Nobile) for their wins at Seattle,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “We’ve celebrated victories in both classes on five different occasions this year and we’re very proud to have the hard work and quality teamwork on display in this way as we approach the playoffs and look to defend our two championships.”

Hagan’s fourth win of the season and sixth final round appearance helped the Don Schumacher Racing driver clinch a spot in the “Countdown to the Championship” and maintain the lead in the tightly contested Funny Car points standings with just two events remaining before the start of the six-race playoff series. After disposing of Todd Lesenko, Paul Lee and beating Courtney Force on a holeshot, Hagan secured his first win at Seattle by defeating Bob Tasca in the final elimination.

Matt Hagan extended his points lead in NHRA fuel FC with his 4th win of 2013

Matt Hagan extended his points lead in NHRA fuel FC with his 4th win of 2013

“The charisma and the chemistry I have with these guys is unbelievable,” said Hagan who rebounded from two first round losses in the last two events to win his ninth career title. “It’s showing on the racetrack. It trickles down from the top. Dickie [Venables, Crew Chief] is a great leader and it’s phenomenal to be able to strap into a race car that DSR puts underneath me and be able to know that you have an opportunity to win anytime I sit in the Magneti Marelli Rocky Boots machine. Right now we have one goal; pull on the helmet, get focused, get up on the wheel, and turn on four win lights.”

Hagan’s Mopar teammates saw their fair share of upsets in Seattle as last week’s title winner Ron Capps struggled in his two qualifying attempts, shorten by inclement weather on Friday, and was not able to qualify for the elimination rounds. No.1 qualifier, Jack Beckman saw his Mopar Dodge Charger R/T upset on a holeshot win by fellow DSR teammate Johnny Gray in the first round. Gray, who has four wins this season, then fell to Courtney Force in the next round.

The Pro Stock title win by Nobile at the Northwest Nationals was notable as it came on the heels of his trip to the winner’s circle last week at Sonoma, but also because it was the third time he had faced his Mopar teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. in a final elimination showdown this season and emerged the victor. Allen Johnson’s victory at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals in Denver combined with Nobile’s consecutive wins at Sonoma and Seattle gave the HEMI-powered entries tuned by Roy Johnson a clean sweep of the three-race western swing. All three national events featured a Mopar versus Mopar final elimination showdown as Johnson defeated V. Gaines at Denver, and Nobile beat Coughlin in their last two final round match-ups.

For the 3rd consecutive NHRA event - the Pro Stock final was all Mopar with Vince Nobile (far lane) defeating Jeg Coughlin at Seattle

For the 3rd consecutive NHRA event – the Pro Stock final was all Mopar with Vince Nobile (far lane) defeating Jeg Coughlin at Seattle

“It was a great sweep for Roy and Allen Johnson’s engines and to be able to put Mopar in the winner’s circle means a lot and it’s a real team effort,” said Nobile faced both of his teammates on his way to earning his eighth career win to jump up to fourth place in the points standing. “I think I try a little bit harder when I’m going up against my teammates in Jeg (Coughlin) and Allen (Johnson), and it definitely means a lot beating Jeg again in a final. He’s just unbelievable and to be able to beat a champion, it means a lot to me and my team. It’s a great time to turn it on for the Countdown.”

With his win - California's Vince Nobile has won back to back NHRA events.

With his win – California’s Vince Nobile has won back to back NHRA events.

In Top Fuel, Lucas claimed his first victory of the season and eighth of his career, knocking off David Grubnic in the final round. Lucas covered the distance in his 8,000-horespower GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster in 3.908 at 296.57 to knock off Grubnic’s Candlewood Suites dragster, which was making its first final round appearance in 2013 and went 4.253 at 256.31.

Lucas made his second straight final round appearance, finishing the job in Seattle after losing last weekend to points leader Shawn Langdon in Sonoma, Calif.“We’ve had our struggles, but this is a sign that we’re getting there and turning the corner,” Lucas said. “We’re starting to show some consistency. To win here in front of these fans with an amazing team, it’s probably as cool and as big as any win I’ve had. I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of my team.”

Langdon maintained his points lead in Top Fuel, though Lucas was able to extract revenge in Seattle by beating the Al-Anabi Racing driver in the semifinals on Sunday. Despite a first-round loss, Tony Schumacher moved back into second place. Lucas, who has now made three final round appearances in 2013 and stayed seventh in points, also knocked off Khalid alBalooshi and Doug Kalitta en route to his first victory at Pacific Raceways.

2013 NHRA Seattle

Morgan Lucas scored in Top Fuel for the 8th time in his career

“I’ve always had a special place in my heart for this track,” said Lucas, who went as quick as 3.817 at 318.32 during eliminations. “Hopefully we can maintain this consistency the back half of the season because I really want to make a serious run at a championship.”

Event Essentials:  NHRA Northwest Nationals (Aug. 2-4th, 2013) Seattle WA

TOP FUEL Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Morgan Lucas 3.908 296.57 8th
R/UP: David Grubnic 4.253 256.31  
Low ET: Shawn Langdon 3.765    
Top Speed: Shawn Langdon   320.58  
Bump Spot:   3.910    
FUNNY CAR Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Matt Hagan 4.171 294.75 9th
R/UP: Bob Tasca III 5.324 164.81  
Low ET: Jack Beckman 4.049    
Top Speed: Jeff Arend   309.93  
Bump Spot:   4.719    
PRO STOCK Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Vincent Nobile 6.586 210.54 8th
R/UP: Jeg Coughlin 6.615 210.60  
Low ET: Mike Edwards 6.526    
Top Speed: Mike Edwards   212.29  
Bump Spot:   6.623    
Sportsman Winners: Name ET MPH  
TAD Shawn Cowie  5.372 268.33
TAFC Clint Thompson 5.594 257.04  
Competition  Doug Lambeck 8.399 160.27  
Super Stock Dan Fletcher 10.25 117.35
Stock Dan Fletcher 11.27 104.94  
Super Comp Steve Williams 8.945 178.12  
Super Gas Ed Hutchinson 9.918 160.86  
Super Street   Larry Miner  10.94  141.09


Fletcher Machine Keeps Rolling – High Drama Comeback Win for Canada’s Cowie!

 Dan Fletcher scored wins in both Stock and Super Stock at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals for his first career double-up to go along with his sweep of the NHRA Western Swing. Shawn Cowie continued the monumental comeback he recently launched with a win at Woodburn Dragstrip by running down Garrett Bateman for the win in Top Alcohol Dragster. Top Alcohol Funny Car, Clint Thompson, another driver whose only previous start this season came three weeks ago at Woodburn, turned back Sean Bellemeur in the final for his fifth career win and third at this event.

Fletcher, Churchville, N.Y., picked up win numbers 84 and 85 to become just the 17th driver in history to record the double win.  He is now tied with NHRA legend Bob Glidden for fourth place on the all-time NHRA wins list.  This is the second time he has swept the Western Swing (1994) as he won Super Stock in Denver two weeks ago and in Stock last weekend in Sonoma, Calif.  He first ran down Don Elgin for the win in Stock Eliminator then faced off with Sonoma winner Jody Lang in Super Stock.  Lang left early by one one-thousandth of a second, turning on the red-light and giving the win to Fletcher.

Sportsman racer extraordinare Dan Fletcher continued his amazing winning ways with an event "double up".

Sportsman racer extraordinare Dan Fletcher continued his amazing winning ways with an event “double up”.

For Cowie, critically injured in April 2011 when a drunk driver plowed into his motorcycle on an Interstate ramp in Nashville, this actually was his third win in a row; he won his last start before the accident, the 2011 Nationals in Las Vegas.

After taking the Woodburn event from the No. 1 qualifying spot, Cowie was No. 4 in Seattle, one of four drivers in the 5.20s, behind Ray Martin (5.26), Johnny Ahten (5.27), and Chris Demke (5.27) with a 5.29. Cowie’s Mundie’s Towing entry was a picture of consistency throughout eliminations, beating one multiple national event champion after another, beginning with a 5.34 against Aaron Olivarez. His best run of eliminations, a 5.29, took out a close 5.37 by Demke, the defending event champ, in the second round, and a 5.33 in the semifinals dumped 2011 world champ Duane Shields, ending Shields’ best outing in what to this point had been a disappointing season.

Bateman, driving the HipLink A/Fueler, tore up the other side of the ladder with at least a .034 reaction time in every round. From the No. 7 spot, Bateman, who last appeared in a national event final 10 years ago in Sonoma, beat Greg Hunter in the first round with a 5.37 and No. 1 qualifier Ray Martin in a crucial second-round race that awarded the winner a semifinal bye.

Martin, who qualified on the pole for the second national event in a row, missed a second straight final when his car went silent before half-track, slowing to an 8.69 at 94 mph. Bateman slipped to a 5.58 that time, picked up to a 5.44 on his bye, then fell back to his worst run of the weekend, 5.64, in the final.

“This is just unreal,” an elated Cowie said. “The whole crew did a perfect job all weekend, and I can’t even believe this happening.”

Canada's Shawn Cowie proved his is back big time with a huge win in TAD

Canada’s Shawn Cowie proved that he is back “big time” with a huge win in TAD!

Thompson, who hadn’t run a national event since the 2012 Finals, scored at the Seattle race for the third time in his career, including 2005 and 2007 wins over Dennis Taylor. Thompson was in the 5.50s in every round but the semi’s, when he got the one break he needed. Jay Payne red-lighted after both drivers staged almost simultaneously, and Thompson shook the tires and coasted across the finish line at 91 mph.

“You usually need one break to win one of these things, and that was it,” said Thompson, who had the best car in eliminations after qualifying No. 3 with a 5.57. There were four 5.5s in eliminations, and he ran three of them. (The other, 5.54, was by John Lombardo, who qualified No. 1 with another 5.54.) Thompson’s MBR-powered Monte Carlo defeated home state driver Dave Germain in round one with a 5.58 and Terry Ruckman by just seven-thousandths of a second in the quarterfinals with a 5.56, low e.t. of eliminations.

Bellemeur, who also was runner-up at Pomona and Sonoma in 2007 and at the 2011 Finals in Pomona, qualified No. 4 with a career-best 5.59, his first run in the 5.50s. He took out the defending event champ, John Evanchuck, in the first round on a holeshot with the best reaction time of the entire event, .019, and past Seattle winners Brian Hough and Steve Gasparrelli in the middle rounds with times of 5.63 and 5.72. Gasparrelli appeared to be on his way to his sixth Seattle final in the past 10 years until he banged the blower and Bellemeur shot into the lead.

Bellemeur got off the line with Thompson in the final and made his quickest run of eliminations, 5.63, but Thompson moved harder through the middle of the track for his first win since Dallas last year and fifth overall.

In Super Comp it was Steve Williams looking for his second win in as many weeks.  The Beaumont, Calif., racer meet up with Andy Morris, Olympia, Wash., and held on for his seventh NHRA national event win covering the quarter-mile in 8.945 seconds at 178.12 mph.  Williams also won Super Comp in Sonoma last week to go along with his win in Super Gas, earlier this year in Topeka, Kan.

Doug Lambeck grabbed his 10th national win and his fourth in Comp Eliminator as he took out Alan Ellis and his ’23 Ford roadster.  Lambeck’s 8.399 second lap at 160.27 mph was enough to hold on for the win by about two feet.

There was also a pair of first time winner’s this weekend in Ed Hutchinson and Larry Miner who won in Super Gas and Super Street respectively.  Hutchinson, Victoria, B.C., won in his ’57 Corvette when Eddy Plaizier left early with a foul start.  Hutchinson was the Super Street runner-up here at Pacific Raceways back in 1996.

Miner, Sedro-Woolley, Wash., was nearly identical at the tree with Bret Oglesbee, Spokane, Wash., but was better at the finish line clocking in at 10.904 on the 10.90 dial for the win.

Photos by:  Gerry Frechette, Mark Reblias & Auto Imagery

Posted with files from Pat Caporali, Eric Lotz & Monique Valdez