Rocket Industries Top Fuel driver Johnny Cowin has shown a distinct liking for the revamped Willowbank Raceway surface recording back-to-back successes during the first two rounds of the Australian Championships at Queensland's home of drag racing.
Tonight's National Open final saw the greatly anticipated showdown between 23 year-old Cowin and the elder statesman of the sport, reigning National Championship titleholder Jim Read.
The finale lived up to all expectations as Cowin turned in a 5.16 second pass to defeat Read by just four one hundredths of a second and take the outright lead in the 2004 Championship.
Both drivers had earlier placed themselves as the front-runners, setting up the much-anticipated duel in grand style.
Cowin's (5.12 seconds) top qualifying pass bettered by Read (5.11seconds) during a solo run in the second round eliminator, only to be totally blown away by the 23 year-old who recorded a mind blowing 4.88 second pass moments later.
The second round defeat of a gallant Terry Sainty was made all the more impressive as Sainty recorded a personal best (5.16 seconds) pass over the quarter mile.
In Top Alcohol Dean Oakey showed remarkable consistency throughout the day and went on to capitalise in the final defeating Dean McClennan with a 6.29 second pass.
McClennan displayed dogged determination to claw his way from fourth qualifying position to advance to the final of the eliminator but was out of the groove during the final pass and had to settle for the runner-up trophy.
In the Supercharged Outlaw bracket Darryl Woods (8.03) upstaged Nathan Peirano (8.27) while Trevor Maas (10.03) enjoyed the spoils in the combined Supercomp bracket defeating Colin Lloyd (9.14).
An outstanding 7.84 second pass ensured Comp Bike honours for Daniel Peatey over Dave Boreham while Gary Seaward (8.09) gained the nod in Modified over Troy O'Hare (9.21).
One way traffic for Jimmy Dionysius (9.31) over Brodie McCormack in Super Sedan, Geoff Redgrave (10.324) and David Rundmann (10.58) slugged it out in Mod Bike while veteran Juan Kudnig (10.48) rejoiced in victory over Steve Sloan (12.40) in the Super Street final.
Mark Wacker (10.99) proved he'll be a force in Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson with victory over reigning champion John Parker (12.04) while Dustin Byth (9.20) and Tim Morton (10.20) impressed in the Junior Dragster bracket.
The one-day event crowd that exceeded 5000 people at Willowbank Raceway was treated to a feast of top quality one-on-one racing.
Officials are excited by the enthusiasm shown by fans towards what is shaping as one of the biggest years in Australian drag racing.
"Once again bad weather threatened earlier in the day and while rain was recorded throughout Brisbane plus the Gold and Sunshine Coasts not one drop fell at Willowbank," said Raceway General Manager Harry Rowsell.
"We're ecstatic at the turnout and will now shape up towards likewise attendances at the Drag Combat during February before we shape up to some International exposure with the American jet dragsters of Chuck Haynes and Gary Miocevich featured during another National Open on March 6."
Internet sites -- www.willowbank-raceway.com.au