Eight Track Records Smashed in One of Fastest and Quickest Days in Sonoma History
It was a record-breaking day at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals on Friday as all eight track records were broken, led by Doug Kalitta in the Top Fuel class.
Racers were treated to near-perfect weather conditions in the Wine Country and they responded with one of the fastest and quickest days in the history of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series in Sonoma.
Kalitta (Technicoat) led the way in Top Fuel with a track-record pass of 3.785 seconds (321.65 mph) to take the top spot in second-round qualifying Friday night. Kalitta is seeking his first No. 1 starting spot since Brainerd (Minn.) in 2010. He holds the Top Fuel record for wins in Sonoma with five.
"I’ve always said that this is the nicest facility that we come to. The track was really good here tonight,” Kalitta said. “We definitely like coming to Sonoma and my car has run good here in the past. This was one of the best speed sessions we’ve had in a while. If this is not one of the best tracks (in the country), it ranks right up there.”
Kalitta was followed in qualifying by David Grubnic (Optima Batteries) at 3.790 (318.02, track record) and Tony Schumacher (U.S. Army) at 3.792 (321.19). The final two rounds of qualifying will take place on Saturday, setting the field for Sunday's final eliminations. This marks the 25th anniversary of NHRA drag racing in Sonoma.
Cruz Pedregon (Snap-on Tools) was the top qualifier in Funny Car with a run of 4.028 (307.30). The elapsed time was a new track record. He was followed by Jack Beckman (Valvoline NextGen) at 4.042 (311.70) and two-time defending Sonoma champion Ron Capps (NAPA) at 4.046 (317.57). Capps' speed was a new track record.
"The car has been fast all year, we just have not been able to put it together on race day," said Pedregon, who is seeking his fourth top-qualifying effort of the year. "We're hoping one of these days we can punch it in for a win."
Allen Johnson (Team Mopar) set the pace in Pro Stock with a run of 6.527 (212.06). Mike Edwards (Penhall/Interstate) actually tied Johnson for first in elapsed time but was second overall because of his slower speed (211.53). Edwards' elapsed time was a track record; he set the time prior to Johnson's run and was awarded the track record.
Defending Sonoma champion Greg Anderson (Summit Racing Equipment) rounded out the top three at 6.539. His speed of 212.29 was a track record. Johnson is seeking his second-straight win and first in Sonoma. He entered the weekend atop the Pro Stock point standings.
"Anytime you go anywhere and be No. 1 is great," said Johnson, who already has seven No. 1-efforts this year. "Lately the Mopar Dodge Avenger has been good. We've got a good package, we're not quite as good here as we should be but we've got a few runs to dial the Hemi in. (Tomorrow) at noon we could have the best atmospheric conditions we've had. This track is just awesome."
Eddie Krawiec (Harley-Davidson) set new track records in speed and elapsed time in Pro Stock Motorcycle. The New Jersey native covered the quarter-mile in 6.801 (198.35); he is seeking his second straight win after taking the title in Denver last weekend. Krawiec, who has never won in Sonoma, was followed by teammate Andrew Hines (6.848, 195.35) and Hector Arana (6.879, 194.86). Arana rides the Lucas Oil Buell.
Action returns on Saturday at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals with the final two rounds of qualifying at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. In addition to great drag racing, race fans will be treated to the 3rd annual Nostalgia Get-Together, Track Q&A Sessions in the Wine Country Winner's Circle, the Blast on the Grass and more. Tickets are available at the gate; visit www.racesonoma.com/nhra for event information.
25th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals
WHAT: Big O Tires Racing Season Presents: NHRA Sonoma Nationals
WHEN: July 27-29
CIRCUIT: Drag strip
2011 TOP QUALIFIERS: Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); John Force (Funny Car); Allen Johnson (Pro Stock); Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle)
2011 WINNERS: Antron Brown (Top Fuel); Ron Capps (Funny Car); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle)
TICKETS: Single day: $50-$60 (adult), $20-$25 (junior, 12 & under); weekend: $135 (adult), $65 (junior); parking is FREE
MORE INFORMATION: 800-870-RACE (7223), racesonoma.com/nhra or ticketmaster.com