Talented & versatile racer J.R. Todd powered to his first career Funny Car victory during’s NHRA’s Toyota Sonoma Nationals….

Steve Torrence (Top Fuel) Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also victorious in their respective categories at the 15th of 24 events on the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Former Top Fuel racer JR Todd (who won 9X in that class) scored his first victory in a Funny Car during NHRA’s Toyota Sonoma Nationals.

Todd clinched the victory with a 4.049-second pass at 323.27 mph in his DHL Toyota Camry against Tim Wilkerson who went up in smoke in his Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang during the final round.

The victory makes Todd the first African-American to win in the NHRA Funny Car category. He also becomes the second driver in NHRA history to win at Sonoma Raceway in both nitro categories, the first was Don Prudhomme.

“Our car showed us a lot of promise in Denver which gave us hope coming into here,” Todd stated. “We’ve been struggling so bad this season; I’m just happy to win a Funny Car. I was able to win here last year in Top Fuel and to be able to come back and do it again in Funny Car is pretty special.”

Todd powered past teammate, Alexis Dejoria, 16-time world champion John Force and Jack Beckman before entering the finals. Wilkerson took down Cruz Pedregon, No. 1 qualifier Robert Hight and Courtney Force en route to his second final round appearance this season.

Robert Hight stunned the drag racing world with an all time fastest run for the sport when he nearly broke the 340 mph barrier!  Hight qualified his JFR Camaro at a numbing 339.87 mph terminal speed – a new NHRA national record!

Todd sits ninths in the standings, while Ron Capps stays in first despite his first-round exit. Matt Hagan and Beckman round out the top three, respectively, in the points standings.

Torrence piloted his Capco Contractor / Torrence Racing dragster past Antron Brown’s Matco Tools dragster in the finals with a pass of 3.784 at 329.42. He now has six victories on the season and 14 in his career.

“It’s basically been just a dream season,” Torrence said. “At the end of the day it’s just a testament to my guys. We will continue to do what we’re doing and we will do what we’ve done to get here.”

NHRA Top Fuel points leader Steve Torrence added to his margin when he collected his 6th win of the 2017 season.

Points leader Torrence defeated Troy Coughlin Jr., Doug Kalitta, and Brittany Force before the final round. Brown piloted his dragster past Troy Buff, Scott Palmer and Terry McMillen before facing Torrence and knocking off teammate Leah Pritchett for the No. 2 spot in the points standings.

In Pro Stock, rookie Gray drove to victory with a 6.572 run at 210.05 in his Gray Motorsports Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro to defeat points leader Bo Butner in the final. This is his third victory of the season and fourth final round appearance.

“I’m proud of my guys,” Gray stated. “This is the best I’ve seen them run the car. We’ve got to go back and keep working, though. If I can go into the Countdown in the top three, then you have a legitimate chance of winning the Championship. That’s what my focus is now.”

Rookie of the Year candidate Tanner Gray won in Pro Stock racing with his Chevy Camaro to it’s 3rd win of the season.

Gray qualified in the fifth position and battled past Alan Prusiensky, defending world champion Jason Line and No. 1 qualifier Drew Skillman. Butner qualified second and took down two-time world champion Erica Enders, Chris McGaha and teammate Greg Anderson.

Gray remains third in the standings, while Butner stays in first following his runner-up showing.

Tonglet finished atop the Pro Stock Motorcycle field with a 6.783 pass at 197.02 on his Nitro Fish Racing Suzuki to narrowly defeat Matt Smith in the final round. After securing his first Mickey Thompson Tires Pro Bike Battle on Saturday, he notched his fifth national event victory of the season and 15th of his career.

LE Tonglet had a remarkable weekend in Pro Stock Motorcycle winning two titles!


Prior to entering the finals, Tonglet defeated Fred Camarena, Angie Smith and Hector Arana Jr. Matt Smith powered past Steve Johnson, Eddie Krawiec and defending world champion Jerry Savoie before facing Tonglet.

“It’s a big benefit to win the battle the day before which builds your confidence going into Sunday,” Tonglet said. “I could hear him (Smith) the whole way and knew it was close. I wanted to look over very badly, but I just stayed tucked in and just stared at the win light and it lit which was exciting.”

Tonglet remains the points leader, while Krawiec continues to hold on to the second position.

The 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues next weekend with the NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways, August 4-6.

The Lucas Oil Lowdown 

In the final results from Sonoma Raceway and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Brain McClanahan, Evan Kowalski, Chris Borges and Bart Smith each scored their first NHRA national event win at the 30th Annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals.

McClanahan, Alta Loma, Calif., got the early lead on Dwayne Scheitlin in Stock Eliminator and nearly gave it up as Scheitlin ran 10.116 on the 10.11 dial. McClanahan held on for the win powering his ’69 Camaro to a 9.871 second lap at 129.54 mph.

Kowalski also used a starting line advantage to pick up his first NHRA Wally trophy at the national level. The Riverside, Calif., racer was out first by .051 seconds and ran 9.941, 160.14 for win in his ’05 Corvette again Chris Cannon in Super Gas. Cannon closed the gap at the line running 9.903 on the 9.90 index coming up about 3 feet short.

Both Borges and Smith had a little help in taking the Super Street and Top Sportsman presented by Racing RV’s titles. Borges, Roseville, Calif., meet up with Matt Blodgett, Long Beach, Calif., who ran just a tick too quick (.002 seconds) to give Borges the win in his ’69 Chevelle, running 10.921, 137.06 mph. Smith, North Las Vegas, won at the start when Keith White turned on the red light with a foul start. Smith went 8.240 at 124.11 on his victory lap.

Jody Lang grabbed his 27th national event win as he was better at both ends of the track to defeat Justin Lamb. Lang drove his ’81 Malibu to a 10.688, 123.20 mph pass to the quicker Lamb and his ’10 Cobalt at 8.622, 155.52.

Rounding out the weekend winners were Val Torres of Chino Hills, Calif., in Super Comp and Paul Nero, Eugene, Ore., in Top Dragster presented by Racing RVs. Torres laid down a stellar .001 second reaction time, then went 8.919 on the 8.90 index to beat Brian’s son Ryan McClanahan, Alta Loma, Calif., who was right on his tail at 8.920, 182.85. Nero grabbed his second national event win at the hands of Jeff Havens. Nero left first and posted a .018 second package for the win running 6.708, 199.32.

Lucas Oil Series racing at Sonoma produced big wins for Chevy racers Brian McClanahan in Stock (top) and Jody Lang in Super Stock.

Posted by NHRA Communications & Eric Lotz
Photos by Marc Gewertz & Bruce Biegler