Drag Racing Online: The Magazine

Volume VIII, Issue 4, Page


Words by Dave Densmore
Photos courtesy IHRA

Cory McClenathan


Andrew Cowin pulled off the biggest upset on a day of upsets Sunday, April 23 at Rockingham Dragway, but the 26-year-old Australian couldn’t turn it into a Top Fuel victory in the 36th annual IHRA Nicko’s NY Style Pizza Spring Nationals.
Cowin, now a resident of Wrightsville Beach, N.C., stunned five-time reigning IHRA champion Clay Millican in the semifinals and appeared on his way to a final round victory over No. 1 qualifier Cory McClenathan before the engine failed in his Serta-sponsored dragster.

Andrew Cowin

 “The fuse wasn’t really long enough,” Cowin (shown) said of his final round problems, “but you know what, this team is up-and-coming and we’re going to win one of these drag races. We just need a little more track time, maybe some testing and stuff (but) we ran 4.55 (in qualifying). We’ve got a bad-to-the-bone hot rod right now.”
“I owed him one,” he said of Millican, “because the last time we were at The Rock (2004), he beat me in the semifinals (after Cowin had set an IHRA world record in qualifying). He really brings out your best.”
McClenathan (lead photo), a regular on the NHRA tour, won with a time of 4.712 seconds at 309.91 miles per hour. Cowin, who led by .029 of a second at 1,000 feet, trailed in 4.786seconds at 281.54 mph, a speed that reflected the fact that his car wasn’t under power when it crossed the finish line.
McClenathan was one of four first time IHRA tour winners. The others were Jack Wyatt of Corydon, Iowa, in Nitro Funny Car and a couple of Texans, Joshua Hernandez and Dr. Tom Carter, who scored in Pro Modified and Alcohol Funny Car, respectively.
The only pro champion to have previously celebrated in an IHRA winners’ circle was Pro Stock winner Tony Gillig of Lake Bluff, Ill., but even his win was a surprise considering that his last victory came in 1998 and that his Mustang was just the third quickest Ford in the qualified Pro Stock field.

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