After finishing 9th in the division last season, Austin, of Medford, Ore., greatly improved his program and made an impressive showing in final rounds, winning in four of five appearances and making it very difficult for defending Top Alcohol Dragster champion Shawn Cowie to keep up despite his own remarkable run. The chase was fun to watch, as Cowie piloted his rail to the final round at eight events and made his way to the winner's circle three times.
As an interesting sidenote, each driver also won one national event: Austin reigned at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, and Cowie was triumphant at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the spring.
The two were neck and neck all season, allowing Joey Severance to get a foot in the door briefly with the Woodburn title and then a runner-up in Medford, Ore., at Champion Raceway.
As the season wound down, Austin barely made noise in Medford while Cowie won the event, and so a trip out of town was in order. Austin towed his program up and over to the Division 1 meet at Atco Raceway in New Jersey and it paid off when he got the win. Cowie made his way back to Las Vegas for the Pacific Division race with hopes of a repeat of his national event win earlier that year, but he exited in the second round. Austin won the division with 404 points to Cowie's 383.
In Seattle, Hough stopped West Covina, Calif., racer Steve Gasparelli, and at the season closer in Medford, the soon-to-be champ only had to stage his car when Shane Westerfield was a no-show in the final. Hough tallied a lofty 404 points towards the championship, while Thompson had a notably quick car and finished second with 246 marks. Ashwell was No. 3 with 204.
Strong, in his F/A Cavalier, matched Lane's pair of trophies with back-to-back wins in Seattle and Medford after a very consistent run of single-round races and was christened the Division 6 Comp champion with 306 points - just one tiny point ahead of Puyallaup, Washington's Brandon Huhtala whose season was highlighted by the gold in Woodburn and a runner-up to Strong in Seattle. Harrison was oh-so-close behind in the No. 3 spot with one win in three final rounds.
There was plenty of out-of-division racing going on as the hitters fought tooth and nail to end in the limelight. The Las Vegas points meet was the decider. Strong went out fairly early and watched as Huhtala and defending Division 6 champion Doug Lambeck gave it their best, and when both were done in the third round, the championship went to Auburn, Wash., racer Strong. Patrick Byron was fifth in the division with Lambeck finishing sixth.
O'Connor made big waves as the only driver in the category to repeat wins in the division; he was also victorious at Mission Raceway Park. Notably, the two events won by O'Connor were the only two he and his '04 Cavalier competed in last season.
Following the race at Pacific Raceways, Olson stepped out of the division and traveled to Noble, Okla., where he was unsuccessful in terms of round wins. To claim the crown, he knew he needed to keep going and so headed west to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The travel was worth it when Olson won three rounds in his '07 Stratus and brought in enough points to finish the hunt. Martin was in Vegas as well but bowed out in the third round and saw his title hopes evaporate.
Barry Daniluk looked ready to pose a serious threat when he won the season opener in Boise, and he closed out the year in the No. 4 position, while Daryl Hemley consistently won rounds to earn the last spot in the top five. Last season's Northwest champion, Randy Johnson, took the title in Spokane to finish sixth in the division.
No. 3 finisher Mike Henderson entered the Northwest season already with an advantage due to an out-of-division final round earned at Tucson, Arizona's Southwestern Int'l Raceway. Dan Lafferty of Wendell, Idaho, was first to visit a Division 6 winner's circle when he piloted his dragster to victory in the first event in Boise and the only event he would compete in as a Top Dragster competitor all year, and at the second points meet of the season, held at Mission Raceway Park, John Chitwood, of St. Helens, Ore., defeated Heritage in the final round to earn his moment in the spotlight. Heritage would finish the season as the only driver in the top five to reach two final rounds; he also was runner-up in Medford. Randy Pressel's victory in Spokane set the Colton, Ore., resident in fourth place as the season drew to a close.
The Northwest Division championship stories will be continued in this space soon.
Division Six Top Alcohol Dragster Top Ten Point Standings Pos Driver Points Events 1 Mike Austin 404 8 2 Shawn Cowie 383 9 3 Joey Severance 247 6 4 Donald St.Arnaud 118 4 5 Dale Carlson 107 3 6 Bill Edwards Jr. 86 3 7 Leo Grocock 32 1 7 Brandon Johnson 32 1 7 Gregg Lawrence 32 1 7 Greg Sereda 32 1 Division Six Top Alcohol Funny Car Top Ten Point Standings Pos Driver Points Events 1 Brian Hough 404 7 2 Clint Thompson 246 6 3 Jeff Ashwell 204 5 4 Sean Bellemeur 128 4 5 John Evanchuk 64 1 6 Larry Miner 43 1 6 Ken Webster 43 2 8 Dave Germain 42 2 9 Jim Peters 32 1 9 Nathan Sitko 32 1 Division Six Competition Eliminator Top Ten Point Standings Pos Driver Points Events 1 Aaron Strong 306 8 2 Brandon Huhtala 305 8 3 Rob Harrison 297 8 4 Jeff Lane 284 7 5 Patrick Byron 254 8 6 Doug Lambeck 230 8 7 Casey Plaizier 209 5 8 Adam Bowdish 208 5 9 Bob Marshall 177 4 10 Dale Giroux 148 3 Division Six Top Sportsman Top Ten Point Standings Pos Driver Points Events 1 Craig Olson 281 6 2 Michael Strickland 271 8 3 Spencer Martin 263 9 4 Barry Daniluk 259 6 5 Daryl Hemley 253 7 6 Randy Johnson 230 6 7 Jake Neibauer 198 5 8 Darryn O'Connor 190 2 9 Frank Nelson 185 5 10 Andy Cawte 173 5 Division Six Top Dragster Top Ten Point Standings Pos Driver Points Events 1 Brian Phillips 288 8 2 Marc Heritage 269 8 3 Mike Henderson 267 8 4 Randy Pressel 246 5 4 John Chitwood 246 5 6 Moe Trujillo 236 10 7 Tom Koenen 235 9 8 Craig Olson 226 6 9 Greg Carlile 225 5 10 Jeff Evans 217 5
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