Motorsports

Sportsman Racing Recap: NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Las Vegas

The NHRA roared through Las Vegas, NV earlier this month, bringing the allure of four-wide racing (a first for The Strip at The Las Vegas Motor Speedway) with it.

Want to see how the top classes shook out? Read this.

The 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston, TX April 20-22.

Here are the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals results from Las Vegas in the Sportsman Classes:

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Joe Mozeris – Competition Eliminator

The Comp Eliminator trophy landed in the hands of B/ED pilot Joe Mozeris for the first time in a career that spans over two decades. Mozeris–whose daughter, Kayla Mozeris, won Stock Eliminator at this very event in 2013–overcame C/ED driver Scott McClay’s .011-second reaction time and raced to a 7.008 on the 7.57 index to his opponent’s 7.454 on the 7.97. The margin of victory was just .005 seconds.

“This is unbelievable,” said Mozeris, of Phoenix, AZ. “I’ve been waiting for this for 25 years. Kayla won this five years ago, so the pressure has been on me to catch up. It’s taken me this long, but it’s fantastic to win at the same track as she did. Everyone in this class is so tough, and I’ve been struggling with my driving today, but I finally did what I needed to do and got it done.”

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Justin Lamb – Super Stock and Stock Eliminator

The reigning Stock and Super Stock Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series world champion sent a big reminder to the competition as he took the double-up win in Las Vegas. Hometown hero Lamb, of Henderson, NV, drove his FS/D 2017 Chevrolet Camaro to victory over E/SA ’69 Dart campaigner Larry Gilley in Stock Eliminator with a .034-second reaction time and 10.025 at 130.51 mph on his 10.01 dial to a .039 reaction and 11.043 (11.03), 117.84. In Super Stock, Brad Burton’s .002-second red light sent Lamb directly ahead to victory in his SS/AM 2010 Cobalt.

“This is really awesome,” said Lamb, who became the 25th NHRA driver to double at a national event. “I think I’ve been close three or four times and never doubled, and this has been something I’ve really wanted to do. To do it at home, in front of family and friends, is really cool. We have a great team, and we have really good equipment, so even though I probably didn’t drive my best today, by combining slightly above average driving with really good cars made this possible.”

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Bradley Johnson – Super Comp

It was the second national event win for Bradley Johnson (near lane) and his first in Super Comp when he topped Ryan McClanahan in the Las Vegas. Johnson was .021 at the tree and wheeled his way to a 9.067 at 168.39 mph on the 9.05 index to shut down McClanahan’s .046 and 9.081, 175.39.

“The toughest race was probably the quarter finals against Chad Langdon; I just wasn’t really sure what the car was going to do or how much the track was going to change running after the Pros,” said Morrison, CO’s Johnson. “This whole weekend was tough, and it started off with a broken rocker arm coming down for the second time run. I had to borrow a spare from [Super Gas winner] Michael Miller, so I have to thank the Millers for helping me with that.”

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Michael Miller – Super Gas

In his 19th final round appearance, Michael Miller claimed his ninth NHRA Wally trophy and his fourth Las Vegas win. The driver of the eye-catching Super Gas ’27 Ford roadster survived a double-breakout with Aaron Kinard, who was .000 on the tree to his own .012-second reaction time. The Santa Fe, NM resident clocked a 10.037 at 145.28 on the 10.05 index to a 10.029, 163.18.

“You gotta love Vegas, right? This track is tough; it’s real tough to dial, and sometimes you just have to be lucky,” said Miller.

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Bud Preuss – Top Sportsman

The red Top Sportsman ’69 Camaro with black racing stripes found its way to the winner’s circle when Bud Preuss recorded the second perfect .000 light in eliminations next to a red-lighting Jeff Gillette and picked up his first national event trophy. Gillette was .005-second too quick in his foul start, allowing Preuss to mosey down the quarter-mile to a winning 7.490 on his 6.94 dial.

“This is unbelievable,” said Preuss, of Grand Junction, CO. “I’ve been to a few finals in the past, but I’ve always messed something up. I had a few breaks today, and we finally did it. I guess you just have to take it however you can get it. For the final round we dialed hard, and I really just tried to concentrate and cut a good light. I just tried to keep my head on straight and not think about it too hard, and it worked out.”

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Mike MacBrair – Top Dragster

Napa, CA’s Mike MacBrair (shown with wife, Debra) defeated Steve Casner, who finished No. 3 in the world in 2017, in the final round of Top Dragster at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. MacBrair nabbed a nice advantage at the tree with a .017-second reaction time to a .034 and parlayed it into a 6.617 (6.60 dial) at 203.00 mph victory over Casner’s breakout 6.738 (6.75) at 198.12. MacBrair had one previous win entering the event: he claimed the trophy in Sonoma in 1990.

“I’m 65 years old, and I feel like I’m 20 right now. There is nothing you can do to duplicate the feeling of winning a drag race,” said MacBrair, who dedicated the win to longtime Sonoma Raceway announcer Jim McCombe and Paul Dickey from NHRA’s Division 7 tech department. Both men passed away late last year.

“It’s been 28 years since our last win, but I’m going to do it again as soon as possible. The thing about Top Dragster is that there are 32 cars out here, and nobody is quicker than anybody else. You have to beat 31 of the best cars, and every one of them has a good shot. To do that, to win the day and be able to dedicate it to the memory of our friends, is just incredible.”

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Joey Severance – Top Alcohol Dragster

Woodburn Dragstrip’s Joey Severance finally put an end to Julie Nataas’ hard charge in the Top Alcohol Dragster money round. Nataas cut a killer .008-second light in her A/Fuel dragster, but Severance came on strong in his supercharged rail to knock her out with a 5.244-second pass at 275.00 mph to a 5.349, 267.32.

“I was beginning to wonder after the first couple of races,” admitted the three-time and reigning TAD champ. “We struggled a little bit, but everything went great here. We had some good luck, the sun was out, and everything went our way.”

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Sean Bellemeur – Top Alcohol Funny Car

Placentia, CA’s Sean Bellemeur is on an absolute tear this year. The driver of Tony Bartone’s Top Alcohol Funny Car scored his third consecutive win by recording low elapsed time of the event in his final-round defeat of John Lombardo Jr. Bellemeur was first to launch by .040-second and kept ahead at each increment for a bold 5.470, 265.69 win over Lombardo’s tire chattering 10.788. It was Bellemeur’s sixth national event win and second at this event. Notably, just before the final and when they were already in the staging lanes, Bellemeur’s team discovered a fuel leak and a cracked fitting.

“There was plenty of drama, and my hat’s off to my team for finding the fuel leak right there,” said Bellemeur, who thanked Jackson Lombardo Racing for waiting for them as car chief Ted Rhumeanis raced back to the pit area to get the fix for the problem. “We wanted to win today for Ted – it’s his birthday. Plus, my wife and kids are here, and this is the first time they’ve seen us win. Man, this is special. We’re just trying to ride the wave.”

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NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League

In addition to loads of exciting NHRA Sportsman action at the inaugural Las Vegas four-wide event, Summit Racing NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League competitors raced on Sunday in front of the sell-out crowd. The Las Vegas event marked the first time in recent history that NHRA recorded back-to-back sell out days. The facility was maxed out on both Saturday and Sunday.

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