NHRA’s gruelling annual Western Swing rolled into scenic Sonoma country last weekend….
John Force continues his mid-season surge and raced to his second consecutive Funny Car win of the year in front of a sold-out crowd at the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals – the 2nd event in 3 weeks on the NHRA Mellow Yello Drag Racing Series.
J.R. Todd (Top Fuel), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were winners of the 15th NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event of the season in Sonoma, Calif.
Force secured his 145th career victory in the category when he defeated Ron Capps in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T in a tightly contested race. Force powered his Realtree Peak Antifreeze Camaro to a winning pass of 3.948 seconds at 324.59 mph to the losing run of Capps at 3.960 at 320.13.
“We won Denver and that got me motivated,” said Force. “My daughter (Courtney Force) and Robert (Hight) were outrunning me in Denver but we got the win. We knew it was going to be a different animal here. We got down here and I was amazed.”
This is his second win in the daunting three race stretch of the Western Swing which concludes next weekend in Seattle. In 1994, Force became the only Funny Car in NHRA history to sweep all three events.
Capps who raced to his third runner-up finish on the season, along with his category leading four wins, retains his points lead in Funny Car. Capps, along with Courtney Force of John Force Racing who is second in the points, become the first two Funny Car competitors to earn berths in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
Todd piloted his SealMaster Top Fuel dragster to his first win in nearly a year when he defeated Richie Crampton in the final. His winning run of 3.745 at 324.83 to the losing effort of Crampton at 3.806 at 313.07 earned Todd his ninth career Top Fuel victory. This was the first win for Todd since he defeated Shawn Langdon in Seattle last season.
“It has been a long time coming for these SealMaster boys,” said Todd. “We have been to a few finals and haven’t been able to close the deal. I had all the faith and confidence in Connie Kalitta and Rob Flynn and they made the right calls all day.”
Steve Torrence, the No. 1 qualifier who raced to a semifinal appearance and Brittany Force who has two wins on the season also gained entry in the Countdown to the Championship on Sunday.
In Pro Stock, Anderson continued his dominating season in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro when he defeated his KB Racing teammate Bo Butner for his seventh win of the season. Anderson, who notched his 85th win, raced to victory with a pass of 6.580 at 210.54 to the trailing run of 6.622 at 210.70 by Butner.
The win ties Anderson with Bob Glidden as the second winningest Pro Stock racer in history behind Warren Johnson with 97 victories. This is the fifth career win at Sonoma for Anderson and he is the Pro Stock points leader.
“This track has been magical to KB Racing, not just to me but Jason Line too,” said Anderson. “This place is special to me and magical. It is everything a Pro Stock racer wants. It is a great racetrack, great weather conditions, and full grandstands. You don’t get any better than that. It cranks us up and gives us a lot of energy.”
Butner retains his third place position in the points and joins Anderson and Jason Line as the first three racers in Pro Stock to lock in a position in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Tonglet won his first race since the Brainerd event in 2011, defeated Andrew Hines in the final. Tonglet, who is the 2010 Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion, had the winning run of 6.813 at 196.73 to the losing run of 6.864 at 194.52. Tonglet faced Katie Sullivan, Hector Arana, Eddie Krawiec and Hines to secure the win.
“It has been five years since we have won and to bring home the Wally after beating Andrew and Eddie back to back is just huge for our team,” said Tonglet. “We just come out here to have fun and it wasn’t getting fun. We had to change somethings up and started getting round wins and it is just great.”
Tonglet’s win on Sunday had been preceded on Saturday by another big win for Andrew Hines.
Hines raced to his second career NHRA Pro Bike Battle win and received a $7,500 payday in the all-star bonus race featuring the top eight Pro Stock Motorcycles in the category.
Hines on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson defeated Hector Arana, Jr., Matt Smith and his teammate Krawiec for the win. This was a rematch of the final in 2015 when Hines was defeated by his teammate. This year, Hines was victorious with a winning run of 6.755 seconds at 197.31 mph to the trailing run by Krawiec of 6.811 at 195.73.
“The guys did a great job giving me a V-Rod strong enough to go out there and give me a chance to win that final round,” Hines said. “I popped that clutch and saw Eddie’s bulb go off first and I thought I was done because we can see a hundredths of a second on the tree but big congrats for everybody doing a great job out here.”
Posted by NHRA Communications
Photos by Gary Nastase and courtesy of NHRA (Marc Gewertz)
The Lucas Oil Lowdown
(Final Round Results)
Justin Lamb defended his title from a year ago and Steve Casner, Sheridan, Calif., picked up his fifth national event win at this weekend’s Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series at Sonoma Raceway.
Lamb, the defending event champion, worked his way through the Super Stock field to meet up with Jimmy DeFrank, Thousand Oaks, Calif., who is the defending Stock event champion. Lamb, Henderson, Nev., went 8.654 seconds at 141.47 in his Chevy Cobalt for the win and his fifth here in Sonoma.
The win is Casner’s first in Top Dragster presented by RacingRV’s.com as he defeated series’ hitter Peter Biondo, Maspeth, N.Y., with a lap of 6.997 at 192.69 mph. Biondo was looking for his 49th win having won in six different NHRA classes but not in Top Dragster.
In a close final round, Don Mezier, Escondido, Calif., nipped Ed Olpin, Pleasant Grove, Utah, in the Top Sportsman presented by RacingRV’s.com. Meziere left the line just .006 seconds ahead of Olpin as both drivers ran .043 over their dials giving Meziere his third win and second in Top Sportsman.
Stock Eliminator saw a first time winner take home the trophy with Jim Durham winning on a holeshot in his Plymouth Duster over Leo Glasbrenner and his Firebird. Durham, Stonyford, Calif., clocked in at 10.710, 122.57 to Glasbrenner’s quicker 10.605, 122.74 out of Chino, Calif.
A pair of Southern California racers won in Super Comp and Super Gas as Val Torres, Valinda, Calif., defeated Michael Lane and Steve Williams, Beaumont, Calif., downed Ron Kelly Jr., San Leandro, Calif. Lane, Shafter, Calif., was out first but Torres was better at the finish running an 8.915 on the 8.90 index and Williams, who won here in Sonoma back in 2013, went 9.914 at 164.15 for his win in Super Gas.
Posted by Eric Lotz (DragRaceCanada file photos)