Las Vegas TAD Winner – Joey Severance

Words Brad Littlefield

Even the most accomplished of professional gamblers doesn’t go to a high-stakes game in Las Vegas with the confidence of a track record as astounding as Joey Severance’s command of The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The literally co-owner of Woodburn Dragstrip has figuratively owned the Vegas track with seven national event wins and a similar run of success in regional competition. When it came time for a championship showdown with Shawn Cowie and the Norm Grimes-tuned Mundie’s Towing dragster, the house was tilted in Severance’s favor.

“That was way better than having to go to Pomona to do it,” said Severance when speaking of the championship. “We felt pretty confident coming in that we would have a pretty good shot at it running here. It definitely helps.”

With Cowie qualifying No. 1 and Severance on his heels at the No. 2 position, the ladder played out into a final-round showdown that would be a must-win situation for the Canadian Cowie. Severance had one-upped Cowie with a 5.24 in the second round that stood for low e.t. of the event. They both got through tough matchups in a rare semifinal that exclusively features dragsters that were blown on alcohol.

Both drivers were game on the starting line with Severance earning a small advantage, and a consistent 5.28 was enough to hold off Cowie, who went for the gusto and had to pedal on a 5.40. Severance, who seldom lets excitement appear on the surface, remained cool under pressure while he sealed his third consecutive Top Alcohol Dragster world title.

“Oh, I don’t know,” said Severance, verbally shrugging in response to a question about his game plan for such an impactful round. “It had a little more meaning, obviously. Same game plan. We were running pretty close to what we should be running. We thought if I was OK on the Tree that we would be good enough. Turns out, we were.

“That’s a relief. Now it won’t be so stressful going into Pomona.”

Severance thanked his team of parents Joey Sr. and Sandy, wife Cherie, daughters Preslie and Kinzley, and Doug Withers. He also credited sponsors J&A Service, CleanBoost Oil, NGK Spark Plugs, GK Machine, B&J Transmissions, GRP Connecting Rods, Hadman Race Cars, EastWest Clutches, Goodyear, Cantrell Products, and Noonan Race Engineering.

“From the middle of the year on, we kind of struggled,” Severance recalled. “It felt like we were doing pretty crappy, but we were still leading the points. We started out good enough and thought we let a couple get away in the middle of the year. Last year, we had it wrapped up in Dallas. We started out good by winning the Winternationals and, fortunately, ended up good.

A third consecutive season title ties Severance with class great Bill Walsh. He is one away from equaling the late Blaine Johnson and two from tying the monstrous feats by Rick Santos and Bill Reichert.

“We’ll start out [2018] looking for four and see what happens,” said Severance. “We keep going if it’s looking good. We’re still not caught up to Reichert and Santos.”

Though the national championship is locked up, Severance has more to do in the next two weekends than write a speech and rent a tuxedo for the banquet. He is trying to lock up the West Region title at this weekend’s event in Las Vegas, and he is going to do all he can to add to his win total at the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona.

“We’ve been trying some different stuff that we’ll be fine tuning a little more,” said Severance. “Those little Wallys are cool to get, so we’ll keep trying to get more. We’re still racing for the regional championship this weekend. If Cowie wins the race, he wins the region; otherwise we do. We’re shooting for that.”