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The latest update as of October 13, 2018

Lucas Oil Series Top Alcohol Dragster National Championship - LATEST UPDATE - 11:00 AM PDT

When we first started working on this story, on September 27th, there were four racers with at least a mathematical chance of winning the 2018 Top Alcohol Dragster title. That short list narrowed down to three following the Fall Nationals event at the Texas Motorplex last weekend, when Josh Hart lost in the first round of eliminations.

"Then there were two".... when Shawn Cowie won in the first round of eliminations at the Carolina Nationals earlier today, removing Troy Coughlin Jr. from the title hunt. Now it's just down to two racers, the defending (and three-time running) champion Joey Severance and perennial second-place finisher Shawn Cowie.

The tables have been turned somewhat this year as Cowie has held the points lead from the start after winning the season-opening Winternationals and at times he's had more than a 100-point edge over Severance. That lead narrowed considerably last week, as the two contenders met in the semi-final round at Texas, where Severance took a very narrow holeshot win over Cowie. Severance left first (.040 to .087 light), then turned on the winlight by a true win margin of just .036 seconds - slightly less than a carlength - to move into the final round. He took that round and gained 32 points on Cowie in the process, leaving himself just 43 points behind heading into this week's race in Charlotte.

Lucas Oil Series Top Alcohol Dragster National Championship - LATEST UPDATE - 4:00 PM PDT

The second round of Top Alcohol Dragster eliminations at the Carolina Nationals is in the books and the news for the Mundie's Towing team out of Surrey, BC is not good. Points leader Shawn Cowie went into the round with lane choice over A/Fuel pilot Justin Ashley but failed to capitalize on his (perceived) advantage and fell behind right from the start. Ashley left first by nearly seven hundredths, then steadily pulled away as Cowie must have encountered severe tire shake, judging by his numbers: 5.695 coupled with a 269.73 trap speed.

Looking into the detailed results on the NHRA website shows that Cowie was quicker to the 60' mark (.937 to .952), then fell off badly before the next incremental (the 330' clocks) as his 2.640 badly trailed Ashley's 2.459 time. Putting it in perspective, fellow blown alky driver Severance did the first 330' in 2.352 in the second round, and Cowie ran it in 2.342 in the first round. Despite a hard charge on the top end, Cowie fell well short of catching the A/Fuel Dragster of Ashley and lost a major chance to hold off Severance's march towards the points lead.

Earlier in the second round of T/AD, Severance did take advantage of a red-lighting Julie Natass and advanced to the semi-final round (tomorrow), and in the process, cut Cowie's lead to just 21 points. If Severance can get past Troy Coughlin Jr in the semis, he will reduce the margin to just 10 points behind Cowie, and if he can take the event win, he will take over the points lead by 11 points heading into the final two events of the season. It is to be noted that both Severance and Cowie are pre-entered for both Las Vegas and Pomona so it could come down to the wire in their battle for the 2018 championship.

Our next update will be tomorrow evening when we update the points standings, and prognosticate about the respective chances for Cowie or Severance to claim the title. Stay tuned for that story.