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NHRA Lucas Oil Series - Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park

NOTE: Click on the thumbnails to display the full-size images

We've got some pictures from yesterday's Top Alcohol (Dragster and Funny Car) first qualifying session at the NHRA Division Seven divisonal-Western Regional event. Our ever-intrepid photographer, Bob Snyder left after the first session due to the extreme (100+ F) temperature, but he's promised to be back at the track today for eliminations. We'll have more details as we get them.

Hunter Jones ---

(LEFT) Making his season debut at Phoenix was Hunter Jones in his 2010 Monte Carlo.

(RIGHT) Pairing up with Jones in the first session, Don Hudson burns out for the first time in quite a few years. It's been even longer since he last ran in Top Alcohol, as his nitro nostalgia flopper has been competition choice in recent years.

(left lane) Hunter Jones vs (right lane) Don Hudson

In the left lane, Hunter Jones was in trouble right from the hit, and his 14.110 - 82.14 left him at the bottom of the slim 4-car field. In the right lane, Don Hudson didn't fare that much better, as his 7.064 - 141.83 showed that he was off the throttle before half track. Despite the medicore timeslip, he was still #2 in the field after the session.

Ray Martin --- Jay Payne

(LEFT) Turning the big slicks for the first time since the Winternationals (seven months ago!), Alaska's Ray Martin showed no signs of rust,

(RIGHT) Entering the last month of his drag racing career, soon-to-retire Jay Payne pulled through the waterbox in his famous "ThunderSlug" Camaro.

(left lane) Jay Payne vs (right lane) Ray Martin

From the left lane, Jay Payne got off the line in fine shape, but was out of it before the 330' clocks, finally timing in at 8.356 - 146.96 to end up in the third spot in the field. On the other side, Ray Martin jumped to the top of the ladder with a very decent 5.799 - 248.93 clocking to easily outdistance the rest of the field.

After the first session ended, the qualifying sheet for the Funny Cars went as follows:

Qualifying sheet Top Alcohol Funny Car - Session #1

Steve Griboski --- Johnny Ahten

(LEFT) Coming down from the high country of Colorado, Steve Griboski, showed up to compete in his only second regional event of the year, and looking to improve on his 5.613 best at Denver in June.

(RIGHT) Another racer making his first appearance since the season-opening Winternationals, was Los Angeles county fireman Johnny Ahten, and he got up on the tires quickly in his first burnout of the weekend.

(left lane) Steve Griboski vs (right lane) Johnny Ahten

In the left lane Steve Griboski made his first shot count as a solid (and season best) 5.559 - 262.59 lit up the scoreboards. Meanwhile, in the right lane, Johnny Ahten had his injected fueler grumble and drop cylinders enroute to a so-so 5.774 - 252.54 opening run.

Mike Austin --- (left lane) Mike Austin vs (right lane) Ron Anderson

(LEFT) In what appears to be an old Jim Whiteley (J&A Services) car, Mike Austin came down from Oregon and tried to get on the right side of the win-loss ledger, after three straight first-round exits in previous 2020 appearances.

(RIGHT) In the left lane Mike Austin put down a decent 5.629 - 250.55 to sit in the middle of the pack after the first session, while over in the right lane, California's Ron Anderson lit up the tires - as you can clearly see in the photo - on the launch and slowed to a bottom of the field 14.855 - 71.27 clocking.

Brandon Greco --- Casey Grisel

(LEFT) It was certainly surprising to see Brandon Greco haul his car all the way from Pennsylvania for this race. With his maximum number of regional events already claimed, and well down in the national standings, his appearance was a bit of a mystery. However, given the unpainted/wrapped body panels, he could have been testing a new car. Even stranger, he hasn't entered any of the three remaining national events.

(RIGHT) With a chance to move into the top ten in the national standings if he could win the event, Casey Grisel made the short tow to Wild Horse with co-owner and crew chief Jerry Darien ready to lay down some serious nitro-powered numbers.

(left lane) Casey Grisel vs (right lane) Brandon Greco

In the left lane, Casey Grisel put down a solid opening effort, stopping the clocks at 5.489 - 260.51, while over in the the right lane, Brandon Greco outran him with a slightly better 5.451 - 255.82 on his first full pass of the weekend. (He made two test runs on Thursday but was off the throttle early on both).

Shawn Cowie --- Joey Severance

(LEFT) With the last pair being the top two contenders in the field, Shawn Cowie lights up the tires big-time on his usual banzai burnout.

(RIGHT) Doing almost the same pre-run routine, Joey Severance shows some serious RPM's on the burnout with the hard-running J&A Services car prior to facing arch-rival Cowie.

(left lane) Shawn Cowie vs (right lane) Joey Severance

Saving the best (pair) for last, Shawn Cowie (on the left side) pounded out a big number to kick off his weekend, with a 5.294 - 274.05 lighting up the boards, while over in the right lane, Joey Severance had some issues just past the 330' clocks - after an awesome 0.891 60' time - and pedaled his way to an early shutoff 5.845 - 193.43 time.

Shawn Cowie --- Shawn Cowie scoreboard

(LEFT) Just past the 60' clocks, Shawn Cowie is already showing a lot of tire speed enroute to the quickest and fastest time of the first session.

(RIGHT) We close our qualifying coverage with a view of Shawn Cowie's scoreboard, showing the 5.294 - 274.05. His short numbers were as follows: 60' (0.937), 330' (2.389), 660' (3.511), 660' speed (220.73), 1000' (4.472).

After the first session ended, the qualifying sheet for the dragsters went as follows:

Qualifying sheet Top Alcohol Dragster - Session #1

After a long hot day in the blazing SouthWestern sun, our correspondent, "BIG" Bob Snyder left before the second, and what became the final, qualifying session. With just enough cars to fill the dragster field, and only four funny cars, the decision to axe the third session was made by NHRA Division Seven Director Mike Rice. Here's the final qualifying positions and numbers.

Qualifying sheet Top Alcohol Dragster - Session #2

Qualifying sheet Top Alcohol Funny Car - Session #2

Saturday - Eliminations

Here's the pictures from the first two rounds of eliminations on Saturday at Phoenix. We'll provide the details on the final round, but sadly, no pictures of them. As per usual, the dragsters came out first, with four pairs ready to battle for the event win. Following them were the two pairs of funny cars, unfortunately far from a full field.

Casey Grisel --- (left lane) Ron Anderson vs (right Lane) Casey Grisel

(LEFT) Casey Grisel

(RIGHT) Ron Anderson (left lane) 13.783 - 72.26 vs Casey Grisel (right Lane) 5.352 - 263.67

Steve Griboski --- Joey Severance

(LEFT) Steve Griboski

(RIGHT) Joey Severance

(left lane) Joey Severance vs (right lane) Steve Griboski

Joey Severance (left lane) 5.616 - 258.86 vs Steve Griboski (right lane) 12.329 - 77.68

Johnny Ahten --- (left lane) Brandon Greco vs (right lane) Johnny Ahten

(LEFT) Johnny Ahten

(RIGHT) (left lane) Brandon Greco 9.309 - 88.66 (right lane) Johnny Ahten 12.746 - 61.04

Shawn Cowie --- (left lane) Shawn Cowie vs (right lane) Mike Austin

(LEFT) Shawn Cowie

(RIGHT) (left lane) Shawn Cowie 5.368 - 269.46 (right lane) Mike Austin 18.864 - 37.83

Ray Martin ---

(LEFT) Ray Martin

(RIGHT) (left lane) Ray Martin 5.758 - 248.43 vs (right lane) Hunter Jones 5.810 - 252.05

Scoreboard shot

(left lane) Hunter Jones 5.810 - 252.05 vs (right lane) Ray Martin 5.758 - 248.43

Don Hudson --- Jay Payne

(LEFT) Don Hudson

(RIGHT) Jay Payne

(left lane) Jay Payne vs (right lane) Don Hudson

(left lane) Jay Payne 5.707 - 259.96 (right lane) Don Hudson 11.559 - 80.27

(left lane) Brandon Greco vs (right lane) Casey Grisel --- (left lane) Joey Severance vs (right lane) Shawn Cowie

(LEFT) (left lane) Brandon Greco vs (right lane) Casey Grisel

(RIGHT) (left lane) Joey Severance vs (right lane) Shawn Cowie

Scoreboard shot

The scoreboards tell the tale as Severance advances to the final round on a holeshot. The true margin of victory was 0.032 seconds; half a car length.