Western Swing – Round Two Report

A convincing win by Vincent Nobile extended the Dodge brand’s season dominance within NHRA Pro Stock during NHRA’s Sonoma Nationals — the second race of NHRA’s gruelling 3 week Western Swing of events…

Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also winners of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event, the 15th of 24 in the 2013 season.

Proving once again that perseverance pays off, NAPA/Mountain View Performance NHRA Pro Stock driver Vincent Nobile found the winner’s circle again during last weekend’s NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway. Nobile, who had been winless in 14 starts since his victory at the season-opener in Pomona, Calif., drove to career-win No. 7 after beating four-time world champion Jeg Coughlin in the final round.

Sonoma PS Final

For the 2nd race in a row (and the 4th time this season) it was all an all Dodge final round in Pro Stock with Vincent Nobile (far lane) winning over Jeg Coughlin.

 “Our team really needed this win,” said Nobile. “We’ve struggled at times this season and I’m not afraid to admit that we’ve all gotten a bit frustrated but the important thing is that we never gave up. We know that [team owner] Nick Mitsos has put together a winning team here and we always believed that we’d get back to the winner’s circle.”

 Nobile did not have the quickest or fastest Pro Stock car in Sonoma, but his driving was flawless, and the team made the best use of their resources, running quick enough to challenge the class leaders. After qualifying No. 8, Nobile faced two-time world champion Jason Line in the opening round and won by a very narrow margin, 6.56 to 6.57.

 A round later, Nobile reinforced his reputation as one of the best starting line drivers in the class with a holeshot victory against current championship leader and low qualifier Mike Edwards. Nobile gained a lead at the start, which allowed his 6.55 to hold off Edwards’ quicker 6.53.

 “Obviously, that was a key round for us,” said Nobile. “Mike doesn’t make many mistakes and his car has been extremely fast all year. We had an opportunity to get past him and I’m glad we didn’t let it go to waste. Earlier this year when we were struggling, my confidence as a driver wasn’t quite where it should have been but wins like that are the best medicine for me. I feel very confident now.”

Vincent Nobile earned his 7th career NHRA Pro Stock event title win.

Vincent Nobile earned his 7th career NHRA Pro Stock event title win.

 Nobile reached the final round after Greg Anderson fouled, and then won the final with a 6.57 after Coughlin’s Mopar Dodge shook the tires. All told, the drivers that Nobile faced on Sunday had combined to win 11 Pro Stock world championships and 196 national event victories.

 “That just shows you the kind of talent we have in the Pro Stock class,” said Nobile. “Everyone is tough. You can’t let your guard down for even one round. That’s what makes days like this so rewarding. Hopefully, this is a sign that this team is back in top form and that we’ll be able to compete for the championship the rest of this season.”

 Following the win, Nobile has moved to fifth place in the NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock standings with just three races remaining before the field. He is just 30-points behind fourth-ranked Shane Gray.

Capps powered his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger to his fourth win at the scenic Bay Area track with a holeshot performance of 4.085 seconds at 307.79 mph to hold off the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang of 15-time world champion John Force in the final round. It marked the 40th career win for the California native.

“You’re not just racing any car in the final – you’re racing John Force,” said Capps, who has won at Sonoma Raceway three of the last four seasons. “It can be intimidating to a lot of people.”

Ron Capps rolled the Napa Dodge Charger into victory lane for the 40th time of his great career

Ron Capps rolled the Napa Dodge Charger into victory lane for the 40th time of his great career

Capps outran Del Worsham, Jeff Arend, and Courtney Force to reach the final round. He leaves the event No. 2 in the Mello Yello points standings, his highest ranking since he left the Gainesville event tied for first in mid-March.  Event top qualifier Matt Hagan, who was upset in the opening round by Alexis DeJoria, continues to lead the series standings by 27 points over Capps.

In Top Fuel, points leader Langdon claimed his fourth win of the season and fifth of his career by defeating former high school classmate Morgan Lucas in the final round. Langdon powered his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to a performance of 3.920 at 240.47 to hold off Lucas’ GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster, which slowed near mid-track.

“This is a dream season,” Langdon said. “To get four wins at this point in the season feels like we have a strong car. Racing Morgan was pretty cool because we grew up together and went to high school together. A lot of memories racing with friends.”

With the win, his first at Sonoma, Langdon extends his series points lead to 102 over second place Spencer Massey. Langdon outran Houston winner Bob Vandergriff, veteran Doug Kalitta and defending world champion Antron Brown to advance to the final round.

Shawn Langdon increased his NHRA Mello Yello Series points lead with his 3rd win of the year in Top Fuel

Shawn Langdon increased his NHRA Mello Yello Series points lead with his 4th win of the year in Top Fuel

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana Jr. claimed his fourth win of the season, riding his Lucas Oil Buell to a performance of 6.878 at 195.45 to beat event top qualifier and Viper Motorcycle Company Buell rider Matt Smith in the final round. It is Arana Jr.’s seventh career victory and first at Sonoma.

The celebration is on (!) for Hector Arana Jr following his big win

The celebration is on (!) for Hector Arana Jr following his big win

Arana Jr. beat Scotty Pollacheck, Jerry Savoie and Katie Sullivan to reach the final round. With the victory, Arana Jr. remains the series points leader.  With the runner-up finish, Smith clinched a berth into the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six-race postseason playoffs.

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues Aug. 2-4 with the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways near Seattle.

Event Essentials:  NHRA Sonoma Nationals  (July 26-28th, 2013) – Sonoma CA.

TOP FUEL Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Shawn Langdon 3.920 240.47 5th
R/UP: Morgan Lucas 4.628 183.69  
Low ET: Shawn Langdon 3.743    
Top Speed: Morgan Lucas   328.30  
Bump Spot:   3.903    
FUNNY CAR Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Ron Capps 4.085 307.79 40th
R/UP: John Force 4.072 311.13  
Low ET: Matt Hagan 3.986    
Top Speed: Matt Hagan   320.51  
Bump Spot:   4.188    
PRO STOCK Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Vincent Nobile 6.572 208.59 7th
R/UP: Jeg Coughlin 7.627 137.95  
Low ET: Shane Gray 6.523    
Top Speed: Mike Edwards   212.56  
Bump Spot:   N/A    15 cars
Winner: Hector Arana Jr. 6.878 195.45  7th
R/UP: Matt Smith 6.877 195.45  
Low ET: Hector Arana Jr. 6.805    
Top Speed: Hector Arana Jr.   198.44  
Bump Spot:   6.952    
Sportsman Winners: Name ET MPH  
Top Dragster Bob Button 6.807 187.55
Top Sportsman Jeff Gillette 6.962 200.14  
Super Stock Jody Lang 10.88 119.26
Stock Dan Fletcher 11.60 117.20  
Super Comp Steve Williams 8.928 181.11  
Super Gas Rick Beckstrom 9.911 168.51  


Sportsman Summary

Steve Williams and Rick Beckstrom led the list of winners for the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series this past weekend at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals.  The pair was joined by Jody Lang, Dan Fletcher, Bob Button and Jeff Gillette in the winner’s circle celebration.

Williams, Beaumont, Calif., took the early lead with a .007 second reaction time in his Super Comp final round match up with Canada’s Ken Mostowich, converting it into a win in a time of 8.928 seconds at 181.11 mph. Mostowich crossed the line in 8.958 at 167.16 mph.  The win was Williams’ sixth national.

Beckstrom had an even better reaction time at .002 as he faced off with Mike Blodgett in Super Gas with both racers looking for their sixth NHRA national event win.  Beckstrom’s starting line advantage was enough as he forced Blodgett to breakout by just 9-thousandths of a second.  The Novato, Calif., racer also won here at Sonoma Raceway back in 2003.

In Super Stock it was Lang driving his Malibu to the win over Staci Smith in probably the closest race of the weekend.  Both drivers ran quicker than their dials for a double-breakout with Lang winning by about two inches for his 25th national event victory.

Fletcher added to his collection of NHRA trophies when Brent Calvert broke out with his Ford Mustang in the Final of Stock Eliminator.  The win was Fletchers 83rd overall and fourth in Sonoma.

Button and Gillette won in Top Dragster and Top Sportsman respectively; Button, Winters, Calif., winning his third and Gillette, Benicia, Calif., his fourth.  Button clocked in at 6.807 seconds at 187.55 mph to beat George Prather, Sacramento, while Gillette went 200.14 mph in 6.962 seconds to end Mike Ferderer’s day clocking in at 7.376, 180.60.

Posted with files from: Diana Brennan,  Eric Lotz & Mountain View Racing