WOODBURN – A home track advantage can exist, even if the place usually is bad luck.
While other drivers struggled to make the entire quarter-mile of Woodburn Dragstrip under their own power Sunday afternoon, Joey Severance made fast laps.
The driver from Woodburn, also known as the co-owner of the track, drove past Shawn Cowie in the final to win the Top Alcohol Dragster class of the NHRA Lucas Oil Series race.
The track hasn’t been all that kind to Severance, though.
Of the dozens of wins he has in the past dozen years, only two other ones came at Woodburn, in 2010 and 2012.
Of course Severance gives the credit for the win to his new car owner, Norm Grimes, and his father, Joe Severance.
“It took a little bit of change in the tune-up, but they got a lot of experience between the two of them so that’s a big help,” Joey Severance said.
In the first round of last year’s race, however, Severance shook the parachutes out of the car in the first round and was eliminated. Similar gremlins have snatched victory from his clutches in the past.
That wasn’t happening this year.
He was the No. 1 qualifier for the event at 5.310 seconds and 272 mph, even in 100-degree conditions Saturday.
In Sunday’s eliminations, he ran 5.387, 266.98 to defeat Megan McKernan in the first round then Kim Parker shook out the parachutes and scratched in the semifinals, giving Severance a single in which he ran 5.397, 267.14.
In the finals against Cowie, Severance was hooked up in running a 5.36, 266.09 while Cowie couldn’t get off the starting line and cruised to a 7.65, 129.60 pass.
After driving in his own race car for the entirety of his career, Severance put it on the shelf a few races ago when he was offered a ride with Norm Grimes Racing.
It takes a lot of the burden off of Severance as an owner and crew member and lets him concentrate on his driving.
“He’s got crew members so I don’t necessarily have to do quite as much at the race,” Severance said. “It’s a little easier. I wouldn’t call it boring, but I run out of stuff to do between rounds sometimes.”
Severance has been rocket fast for most of this season, even before stepping into the new car.
Sunday’s event win was his fifth of the season, including his third at the divisional level.
He’s second in national Lucas Oil points to Chris Demke.
Severance was second in national points a year ago and has been close to winning a national championship.
Winning one would be a great exclamation point on his career.
“We’re still having a lot of fun doing what we’re doing,” Severance said. “It would be great, but it certainly wouldn’t frustrate me enough to quit or do anything. We’re out here to have fun. Of course that would be icing on the cake. Getting to do it is pretty special.”
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6701 or Twitter.com/bpoehler