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The latest update as of September 27, 2018

Lucas Oil Series National Championship - TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER

We're now down to the final four national events in the NHRA season, and all four will include the Top Alcohol classes, making for an exciting finish to the Lucas Oil Series national championship chase in 2018. In addition, there are three Lucas series regional events on tap, but since the top eight racers in the standings have already competed in the maximum number of claim-able races, the regional events won't enter into the championship conversation.

The points criteria for the alcohol categories national championship is that a racer may claim points at seven national and three regional events. However, they are allowed to waive points at up to three additional national events and two regional events. Therefore, they can compete at 10 national events, and five regional events. There is nothing preventing a racer from attending more races, though few choose to do so, but when they reach 10 national, and five regional events, they are not allowed to claim any further points.

As previously mentioned, the top eight racers have "maxed" their regional points, but all of them can still improve their points totals at the remaining national events. And in the case of the #1 (Shawn Cowie) and #3 (Joey Severance) contenders, they have only attended six national races and hold a definite advantage over the other racers. The #2 (Troy Coughlin Jr.) and #4 (Josh Hart) racers have already competed at seven nationals but can still improve their places in the standings with good performances at three of the remaining events.

Just below the top four racers in the standings is #5 (Megan Meyer) who is entered in the Carolina Nationals (October 12 - 14) and can increase her point total by a maximum of 54 (with an event victory), leaving her a minimum of 32 points behind the current leader (Shawn Cowie) and unable to finish higher than second in the final standings. With the four racers above her on the points ladder still having three or four races to improve their totals, Megan's chance to advance from #5 are slim indeed.

Looking at the pre-entries for the next two races shows that the top four racers will all be comepeting at the Texas and Carolina races, which will add some serious drama to those events. Not leaving anything to chance, both Cowie and Sevcerance have already entered the final two races of the season (Las Vegas and Pomona) and may end up going head-to-head for the championship at one or both of those events. It could be quite a dramatic finish to the 2018 season. It is to be noted that Coughlin and Hart will have one possible points-earning race available to them after the Carolina event, but neither has entered either of the final races at this point.

So just what are the points ramifications at this juncture of the season? Starting from the top, they are as follows:

# 1 - Shawn Cowie currently has 647 points and could increase that number to 850 if he could win the remaining four events

# 2 - Troy Coughlin Jr. currently has 593 points and could increase that number to 744 if he could win his three remaining events

# 3 - Joey Severance currently has 572 points and could increase that number to 808 if he could win the four remaining events

# 4 - Josh Hart currently has 563 points and could increase that number to 713 if he could win his three remaining events

Here's the breakdown on how each racer could waive previous events and increase their point totals:

# 1 - Shawn Cowie can waive Las Vegas (42 points), Atlanta (53), Indy (42). He has three national event wins.

# 2 - Troy Coughlin Jr. can waive Gainesville (42 points), Atlanta (31), Indy (31). He has one win and one runner-up (national events).

# 3 - Joey Severance can waive Pomona (31 points), Topeka (42), Brainerd (31). He has two wins and one runner-up (national events).

# 4 - Josh Hart can waive Charlotte (53 points), Chicago (10), Norwalk (42). He has two wins and two runners-up (national events).

Of special note is the fact that Cowie could conceivably "run the table" and finish the season with a "perfect" point total of 850, representing seven national and three regional event wins. That would be the first time in Top Alcohol Dragster history, and the first time in Top Alcohol overall since Frank "Ace" Manzo last performed the feat in 2011. One other interesting note that comees out of the points table is that Josh Hart failed to qualify at the Chicago race, receiving only 10 appearance points, and stands to gain a considerable amount if he can follow-up his U.S. Nationals (Indy) vcitory with a win at Dallas and/or Charlotte.

Of course, these prognostications will be changing round by round over the course of the next seven weeks and we will do our best to keep as up to date as possible and keep re-calculating the chances of the racers left in contention for the national championship. Stay tuned as we start changing the totals in ten days time.

Next up is our look at the NHRA professional classes and we can already see who's falling by the wayside in the countdown chase with two events in the books and just four to go in 2018. We'll get working on that story tomorrow.