NHRA Sonoma Nationals: Weekend Preview

by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via NHRA

The second race of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ Western Swing sees all four of the sport’s premier classes head southwest to Sonoma Raceway for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals. A host of the series for over three decades, the NHRA’s annual Sonoma stop has produced an interesting mix of legendary and up-and-coming winners over the years.

Last year’s round at Sonoma was the first time that none of the big four classes—Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle—produced a first-time winner while running together. Blake Alexander, Robert Hight, and LE Tonglet each scored their second victories of the 2018 season, while Jeg Coughlin Jr.’s Pro Stock win was his third of the year. Of that group, only Hight has won this season, with Tonglet and Coughlin still battling for spots in the Countdown to the Championship and Alexander having switched from Top Fuel to Funny Car.

Hight became the first Funny Car driver to clinch a Countdown spot last weekend at Bandimere Speedway, while winner Tommy Johnson Jr. scored the victory and is poised to become the second driver to punch his ticket to the playoffs. Three Pro Stock Motorcycle riders—the dominant Andrew Hines, Eddie Krawiec, and Hector Arana Jr.—have done the same, while Steve Torrence’s eye-popping eight victories in the last nine races made him the first to clinch a Top Fuel berth earlier in the month at New England Dragway.

Of the four classes, Hines’ 113-point lead in PSM is currently the smallest. Pro Stock leader Bo Butner has a 143-point advantage over Greg Anderson, who scored his first win of the season last week in Colorado, and Hight’s advantage over Johnson in Funny Car currently stands at 149. Torrence, meanwhile, remains a cut well above the rest of the Top Fuel field; while Brittany Force, Antron Brown, Doug Kalitta, and Clay Millican are within 39 points of one another in second through fifth, Force is still a distant 555 points back of Torrence.

The NHRA Sonoma Nationals will return the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series to over-the-air broadcast on Sunday, as FOX will air nitro eliminations at 5PM ET/2PM PT. Pro Stock action will air later that night on FS1 at 10PM ET/7PM PT. Following Sonoma, the Western Swing will draw to a close next weekend at Pacific Raceways with the MagicDry NHRA Northwest Nationals on August 2-4.

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