ET Dragracing

Sportsmen at NHRA Winternationals



Words by Eric Lotz

Photos by Ron Lewis and Pam Conrad

Shane Westerfield (far lane) takes the Top Alcohol Funny Car win over Ulf Leanders. 


Shawn Cowie and Shane Westerfield each took home big wins at the season-opening 58th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, CA, on Feb. 11.


Cowie and Westerfield were joined by a pair of first time winners in Steve Will and Paul Mitsos, and six other champions who took home the NHRA Wally trophy.

Shawn Cowie


Cowie took out reigning NHRA Lucas Oil Top Alcohol Dragster World Champion Joey Severance and former world champion Chris Demke in rounds one and two, then faced off with Garrett Bateman, Albany, Ore., in the final.  Bateman had the early lead but smoked the tires early in the run and could only watch as Cowie, Surrey, B.C., shot passed to a 5.333 second, 277.03 mph run for his 11th NHRA national event win.


Westerfield, Anaheim, Calif., started off his 2017 Lucas Oil World Champion defense with a win in the Top Alcohol Funny Car class as he outran Ulf Leanders, Niksjofors, Sweden.  It was the first time the two faced off in a final round with Westerfield taking his ’16 Camaro to a 5.425 second, 269.67 mph lap to Leanders’ 5.508, 268.33.   The win was the seventh for Westerfield.


Will, Fortuna, Calif., and Mitsos, Eastvale, Calif., both raced to their first NHRA National event win in the Top Dragster and Top Sportsman.

Will (near lane) had the slight advantage at the start over Kyle Seipel, then was better at the top end posting a run of 6.043 at 234.13 mph to Seipel’s 6.862. 

Mitsos (far lane) took the win when Don Meziere left early with a red light foul start. Mitsos ran it out to a 7.098, 191.21.

Dan Fetcher (far lane), Churchville, NY, took home his 103rd win running 8.344, 132.86 in his ’08 Cobalt to end Clint Neff’s day. 

Local racer Kevin McClelland of Rancho Cucamonga, CA, took home the Super Gas title in defeating Phil Unruh from McPherson, KS. The win was number five for McClelland and his ’27-T Ford. 

Doug Vancil

Rickey House


The Mickey Thompson Top Fuel Harley win went to Doug Vancil. The veteran Vancil returned to Harley racing for the first time in about 10 years. He met up with Rickey House in the final round with both riders leaving the line together but Vancil pulled away for his first win covering the quarter mile in 6.333 seconds at 220.01 mph.


TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER: Shawn Cowie, 5.333, 277.03 def. Garrett Bateman, 15.835, 55.97.


TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR: Shane Westerfield, Chevy Camaro, 5.425, 269.67 def. Ulf Leanders, Camaro, 5.508, 268.33.


COMP ELIMINATOR: Dan Fletcher, Chevy Cobalt, 8.344, 132.86 def. Clint Neff, Roadster, Foul - Red Light.

SUPER STOCK: Kyle Rizzoli (near lane), Chevy Camaro, 9.579, 133.55 def. Adam Emmer, Olds Cutlass, 10.120, 125.89. 

STOCK ELIMINATOR: Larry Gilley, Dodge Dart, 10.627, 121.27 def. Ryan Mangus, Chevy Camaro, 10.664, 122.73.


SUPER COMP: Gabriel Torres, Dragster, 8.922, 165.46 def. Val Torres Jr., Dragster, 8.941, 176.26.


SUPER GAS: Kevin McClelland, '27-T Ford, 9.924, 149.22 def. Phil Unruh, Chevy Cobalt, 9.899, 159.29.


TOP DRAGSTER: Steve Will, Dragster, 6.043, 234.13 def. Kyle Seipel, Dragster, 6.862, 197.74.


TOP SPORTSMAN: Paul Mitsos, Dodge Stratus, 7.098, 191.21 def. Don Meziere, Chevy Cobalt, Foul - Red Light.


TOP FUEL HARLEY: Doug Vancil, Harley, 6.333, 220.01 def. Rickey House, Harley, 10.322, 89.15.



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