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Tue, 06 Aug 2013, 15:44 PM

Cowie Does It Again in TA/D, Thompson Takes TA/FC
By Todd Veney/Pro Sportsman Association
Photo copyright 2013 Auto Imagery, Inc.





KENT, Wash. --

Shawn Cowie defeated Garrett Bateman
Continuing the monumental comeback he launched with an epic win at Woodburn Dragstrip in his first appearance in more than two years, Shawn Cowie won the Northwest Nationals Top Alcohol Dragster final, running down Garrett Bateman, who had the early lead with an outstanding .011 reaction time. In 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.

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 SummitRacing.com 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."


Danette and Clint Thompson celebrate win.
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.





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