SONOMA, Calif. (July 31st, 2016) – The NHRA Mello Yello Toyota Sonoma Nationals were nothing shy of eventful on race day. With clear skies, warm weather and great racing, the fans were in for a sold-out show.
This is the second event on the three-race Western Swing, and the only driver with a shot at sweeping the swing is John Force. The 16-time Funny Car champion powered his way down the race track for his record 145th career victory. Force had a tough customer in the other lane for the final, points leader, Ron Capps. A 3.948 @ 324.59 MPH was enough to get the job over Capps’ valiant effort of 3.960 @ 320.16 MPH. Capps will retain the points lead heading into the final race in the Swing set to take place in Seattle next week. Alexis Dejoria took a hit to the wall in round 1 of eliminations against John Force shortly after she left the starting line. Dejoria, who was able to exit the car under her own power was then transported to a local hospital after complaints of back pain.
Major upsets were abundant this weekend as Denver race winner, Tony Schumacher, lost in a pedal-fest in round 2 against Steve Torrence. Only for Torrence to lose in the semifinals against Richie Crampton. The rest of Don Schumacher Racing’s Top Fuel entries saw uncharacteristic early exits today. Leah Pritchett and Shawn Langdon fell to Tony Schumacher and Scott Palmer respectively in round 1. While reigning Top Fuel champion, Antron Brown, ended his day in round 2 against eventual race winner, J.R. Todd. This marks Todd’s first win of the 2016 season and the fourth for team owner, Connie Kalitta, in the Top Fuel ranks. “It’s huge man. I never lost faith in Connie [Kalitta] and Rob [Flynn] and all the guys on this Seal Master car. Most of the guys are brand new and it’s their first win. For them to hold that trophy at the end of the day is huge for us.” J.R. stated. As for his chances at the world championship, the Sonoma winner thinks their getting set up to hoist the big one. “I like to be at least top 5 rolling into Charlotte to give ourselves a better shot at that Mello Yello championship. Today definitely helped going towards that goal.”
The Ken Black Racing cars still proved to be at the top of their game. Greg Anderson took down fellow KB Racing teammate and this weekend’s number 1 qualifier, Bo Butner, in the final round. Anderson claimed his 7th win this season. Tying with Pro Stock legend, Bob Glidden, for the number 2 spot on the all-time wins list in the class with a remarkable 85. His teammate, and winner of 7 events this season, Jason Line, shockingly bowed out in the first round of competition due to an .064 reaction time. Slightly more than two-hundredths slower than competitor, Drew Skillman’s, .041. While Bo will have to wait another day, it’s clear to see that KB has regained its footing after a misstep on race day in Denver last weekend. “The team and cars never took a week off, the drivers took a week off.” Greg explained. “The team stays strong, the team has been great for 15 races in a row, I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity for us drivers. Thank the lord we didn’t screw it up today.” Anderson knows that other teams are starting to catch up, but he’s assured that KB Racing will stick to their game plan. “It’s going to be an absolute dogfight until the finals this year.”
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
2010 Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion, LE Tonglet, grabbed his first Wally in nearly 5 years. The Louisiana fireman beat out this weekend’s Pro Bike Battle winner, Andrew Hines. Tuned by his brother, GT, the duo showed their strength qualifying fourth yesterday and picking up the win today. Tonglet runs in small operation with his father and brother, which makes the victory over Pro Stock Motorcycle giant, Harley-Davidson even sweeter. “This was huge. It’s been almost five years since won. To come out here and beat both Harley’s and outrun them is awesome for our team. It’s just great.” Tonglet who made an impressive and victorious run for the championship late in the 2010 season, is confident that they can do it again this year. “As a rider it’s just amazing to know you have a competitive bike up there. You don’t have to do nothing funny on the starting line anymore. You can race them legit and hope for the best.”