Brittany Force topped the qualifying charts in Top Fuel at Sonoma Raceway. (NHRA photo)
SONOMA, Calif. – Looking for her first Top Fuel win of the season, Brittany Force assembled a trio of strong runs in qualifying at Sonoma Raceway and finished 1st in the 33rd annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals on Saturday.
Ron Capps (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Angie Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) qualified as No. 1 in their respective category races in the ninth race of the season of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series and the second of the famous three NHRA Western Swing.
Force’s impressive run of 3.694 seconds at 329.42 mph on Friday in her 11,000-horsepower Flav-R-Pac dragster gave her the No. 1 position for the second straight race. It’s also her fourth No. 1 qualifier of the year and 24th of her career, and she’ll open race day against Ron August. She also got a strong run of 3.716 seconds at 330.31 mph, which is the fastest run of the weekend in the class to complete qualifying, which gives Force additional confidence that she will take a win after two runner-ups this year can achieve.
“We want this win,” said Force. “We got second in Ohio a couple of weeks ago and it felt good to get there, but we want to close this and end up with the winners. We had outstanding runs from my entire team this weekend. We had three solid runs, I’m happy about that and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s race day. “
After struggling in the first two sessions, three-time defending champions Steve Torrence shot into second place in the final qualifying round, doing 3,710 seconds at 329.67 mph to keep his chance at keeping the western swing alive. Antron Brown will start race day from third after running 3.724 seconds at 326.71 mph.
Funny Car’s Capps claimed the No. 1 position due to his 3.897 second run at 328.78 mph on Friday in his 11,000 hp NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, giving him three No. 1 qualifications and 28 in that year his long career brought him to life. Aiming for his first win of the season, Capps faces Tony Jurado in the first elimination round and is focused on winning on a track that means a lot to him.
“I’ve been doing this long enough and this whole team gives me the confidence,” said Capps, who has four Sonoma wins. “A good qualification is a question of the team. I can’t say enough to the fans here. I love all these fans. “
Alexis DeJoria finished second after her run of 3.898 seconds at 325.61 mph on Friday, while Capps’ Don Schumacher Racing teammate, Denver winner Matt Hagan, will attempt his second race in a row after qualifying 3 with 3,909 Gain seconds at 328.94 mph.
Anderson remained dominant in Pro Stock qualifying and in that regard continued his breakneck pace with his 6.513 second run at 210.44 mph in his HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro. This now gives Anderson his seventh No. 1 qualifying place in eight Pro Stock races this season and an incredible 113 in his stellar career. Anderson, the current leader, will be eliminated by Steve Graham and will try again to make his 97
“The HendrickCars.com Chevy is fast as it has been all year and it’s up to me to make it to one of my favorite circuits tomorrow,” said Anderson, a six-time Sonoma winner. “I can’t wait to get after that.”
KB Racing teammate Kyle Koretsky finished two solid days of qualifying in second place with a run of 6.522 seconds at 211.06 mph and defending champion Erica Enders is at 210.67 mph thanks to her 6.524 second pass Third hour.
A. Smith crowned a wild, record breaking day of qualifying in Pro Stock Motorcycle by securing her first career number 1 qualifier with her Denso Auto Parts EBR with an impressive 6.736 second run at 203.06 mph . Smith’s run came during final qualifying after watching her husband Matt take first place and make the fastest run in class history with a pass of 205.04 mph earlier in the day. But A. Smith responded with her strong pass to end the day, which gave her plenty of momentum to go into the eliminations.
“It’s so tough out here and for me to be number 1, I’m so proud of this Denso team,” said A. Smith. “We exchanged the engine on my bike in 30 minutes and I was pretty much on the ground after the last lap. To do my career best, going around 203 (mph), I couldn’t be more proud of this entire team. Everyone who helps us, I couldn’t be more proud to give you a yellow hat as the No. 1 qualifier and hopefully get a blue (winner’s hat) tomorrow. “
Karen Stoffer also made a big jump in the final session, finishing up in second place thanks to her 6,750 second pass at 198.61 mph. Steve Johnson is third after his pass of 6.751 seconds at 199.94 mph. Front runner M. Smith, who opened the Western Swing in Denver, was pushed to fourth place in the last session.