WOODBURN, Ore. -- Overdue Garrett Bateman won Top Alcohol Dragster and many-time Division 7 champion Steve Gasparrelli took Top Alcohol Funny Car at the second of two West Region Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series events at historic Woodburn Dragstrip outside Portland.
Bateman won the final over snake-bitten Chris Demke, who fell for the seventh time in nine 2013 finals when his car dropped a valve in low gear. Bateman, at the wheel of the HipLink A/Fuel Dragster, pounded out a final-round 5.45 at 261 mph, by far his best run of eliminations, to take down Demke's hamstrung 5.63 at241.
Demke had a decided edge to that point, with low e.t. of both the first round and the semifinals. He dropped Gregg Lawrence, who won one of the Woodburn events last season, in the first round with a 5.38 - two-tenths of a second better than the next-quickest car.
Bateman ran a 5.58 in that round to turn back track co-owner Joey Severance's slowing 6.11 at 161 mph. Jeff Ashwell and Megan McKernan easily advanced to the semifinals with wins over Shawn Bowie, who won the first Woodburn event this season, and Norwalk runner-up Ray Martin, respectively.
In the semifinals, both Bateman and Demke moved on when Ashwell and McKernan, driver of Jerry Darien's A/Fueler, had problems. Bateman improved from his first-round 5.58 to a 5.54, and Demke also picked up four-hundredths with a 5.34 at 264 mph, good for low e.t. and top speed of eliminations. In the final, Bateman made his best run of eliminations, 5.45, to cover Demke's slowing 5.63.
In Top Alcohol Funny Car, Gasparrelli, who won division championships in 2001, 2002, 2005, and 2010, won his third regional event title of the season and put himself in position for another divisional/regional championship with a final-round win over Brian Hough. Gasparrelli laid down low e.t. of eliminations, a 5.65, to hold off Hough's right-there 5.67.
Gasparrelli, who also qualified No. 1, took an easy first-round win over Russ Parker with a 5.73. Sean Bellemeur ran low e.t. of the first round, 5.70, to avenge his final-round loss to Clint Thompson at the recent Northwest Nationals. Last year's Northwest Nationals winner, John Evanchuk, beat Topeka winner Jirka Kaplan on a holeshot, 5.76 to 5.75, and Hough won the final pair of the opening round with a slowing 5.92 at just 210 mph against Randy Parker's 5.98, 234.
Hough, who got quicker in every round of eliminations, beat Bellemeur in the semifinals, 5.69 to 5.82, and Gasparrelli nipped Evanchuk in the other semi in one of the best races of the event, 5.668 to 5.699, before topping Hough in an equally close final-round battle, 5.65 to 5.67.
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