Ford’s venerable late-model factory Cobra Jet Mustangs that compete in both Stock and Super Stock have captured more than their share of class wins and top qualifying honors since their initial production in 2008, but eliminator victories have been harder to come by, as they are by nature in these cut-throat sportsman categories. But on Sunday afternoon at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, veteran racer Randy Hopkins put one in the win column for the Cobra Jet fraternity, besting Terry Johnson in a nail-biter of a Super Stock final with just .0021 seconds – five inches – separating the pair at the stripe.
And in a particularly rare feat, the Mission, Texas racer did it from the pole, as he laid down an 8.596 during qualifying on Thursday, 1.106-seconds under the 9.70 SS/AA index. In his second round matchup, opponent Dennis Nelson pulled the trigger early, handing a gift to Hopkins, who pointed the Cobra Jet skyward not once, but twice. Hopkins was the benefactor of red lights and a competition single in the ensuing rounds, before needing every bit of his stellar .003 reaction time – bettering his .005 in round four – in the final.