Brainerd MN - While it might have been a short field where just ten cars entered the Top Alcohol Dragster class at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, it wasn't a short field on Duane Shields' side of the ladder as he had a tough opponent every round before he was eventually stopped by Joey Severance in the finals. "Everyone there was tough so you had to bring your A-game to this race. You couldn't take anyone lightly," Duane said. Duane's PEAK A/Fuel Dragster qualified third with a highly competitive 5.29 at 273 MPH.
In round one, Duane took on Mia Tedesco who is enjoying a respectable season going into this race. At the launch Tedesco had the better reaction time but she immediately lost traction and shook the tires giving Duane an easy trip to the finish line. Duane won the round with a 5.28 at 276 MPH to move on to the quarterfinals. "These A/Fuel Dragsters are very touchy and we all have to go out there with a very competitive tune-up. But that also increases your chances of overpowering the track and losing traction like Mia did," Duane said.
In the second round, Duane met up with Robin Samsel. As the cars rocketed off the starting line, it was Duane who was out first with an 0.065 to Samsel's 0.091. Duane shook violently but was able to maintain his lead and take the stripe. Duane clocked a 5.55 at 274 MPH to Samsel's off pace 5.98 at 269 MPH. "That was our lucky round win. The car shook really hard and I had to pedal twice but we still won the round," Said Duane.
In the semifinals, Duane raced new comer Megan Meyer who is the daughter of former World Champion Randy Meyer. Duane was out first with an 0.074 to Meyer's 0.083 but once again traction problems played into the race. Meyer had to coast as she blazed the tires while Duane made his best pass of the weekend with a sizzling 5.25 at 279 MPH to Meyer's 10.24 at 74 MPH.
In the final round, Duane faced the reining World Champion Joey Severance. As the lights came down Severance got off the line first with an 0.045 to Duane's 0.071. Duane was on the start of another great pass while out of nowhere he smoked the tires and had little choice but to concede the race. Severance recorded a winning 5.27 while Duane idled to the finish line. "We were totally shocked since the car never smoked the tires all weekend and here we were in the final round and it did it. We had a short turn around time before the finals and we never changed a thing from the prior run. Joey will probably win the Championship this year so it would have been nice to have made a good run against him," Duane said.
While the team was obviously disappointed, Duane remained optimistic that the final round appearance will make for a good springboard into the historic US Nationals held on Labor Day weekend. "This was our first national event final of the year and the PEAK Dragster is running consistent so this should give us some momentum going into Indy," Duane said.
Duane would like to thank his sponsors PEAK Antifreeze and Motor Oil, Final Charge, Blue Def, NGK, GRP and Brad Anderson Enterprises for their continued support in 2016.