NHRA To Close Out Famed Western Swing at DENSO NHRA Sonoma Nationals At Sonoma Raceway
For the first time since 2009, the NHRA’s annual trek to Northern California’s wine country will close out the famed three-race Western Swing when the 35th annual Denso NHRA Sonoma Nationals take place on July 28-30 at picturesque Sonoma Raceway.
It is the 12th of 21 races during the 2023 season in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series and after stops in Denver and Seattle, the stars in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock Motorcycle will look to close out the Western Swing in style at one of the fastest and most popular stops on the NHRA tour.
The breathtaking backdrop in the heart of wine country makes for a memorable weekend for fans, along with the can’t-miss action of 11,000-horsepower, 330-mph nitro machines. Fans enjoyed a series of track records a year ago in Sonoma, while this season provides a full weekend of action. That includes always thrilling nitro session under the lights on Friday, the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge and Pro Stock Motorcycle All-Star Callout specialty races on Saturday, and eliminations on Sunday.
Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Bob Tasca III (Funny Car) and Joey Gladstone (Pro Stock Motorcycle) won the 2022 event, and this year’s race will be broadcast on both FOX and Fox Sports 1 (FS1), including eliminations coverage starting at 1 p.m. PT on Sunday, July 30 on FOX.
Force put on one of the most memorable Top Fuel displays in Sonoma Raceway history a year ago, breaking her own track records multiple times on elimination Sunday. It led Force to the impressive victory and a dominant performance that had fans on their feet, and the reigning world champion will look to put on a show this year as well. Heading into Sonoma, everyone is chasing Justin Ashley, who has the points lead and four wins. Others to watch include Antron Brown, Leah Pruett, Mike Salinas, Austin Prock, Josh Hart, Tony Schumacher, Denver winner Clay Millican and veteran Doug Kalitta.
In Funny Car, Bob Tasca III claimed the victory last season, beating the legendary John Force in the final round. Tasca already has one win this season and he’s aiming for another in Sonoma, but it won’t be easy in a loaded lineup that includes back-to-back world champ Ron Capps, points leader and Denver winner Matt Hagan, Robert Hight, who won the previous three races in Sonoma before 2022, J.R. Todd, Cruz Pedregon and Tim Wilkerson, who each have two Sonoma wins, Chad Green and Alexis DeJoria.
Sonoma fans will also see exciting Pro Stock Motorcycle action all weekend, including the first appearance at the facility from current points leader Gaige Herrera. He’s already posted four wins this season in his first full year of action but will face off with an impressive field that also includes defending world champ Matt Smith, Hector Arana Jr., Eddie Krawiec, who is seeking his 50th career win, Steve Johnson and Angie Smith.
The category will also get the spotlight on Saturday with the Pro Stock Motorcycle All-Star Callout, pitting eight top riders against each other in a unique specialty race. The first seed will get the chance to select his opponent, followed by the second seed until all matchups are set in the exciting shootout race. The first-round selections will be made on the starting line at 7:45 p.m. PT on Friday.
The event also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, featuring some of the top drivers in the sport. The weekend includes the NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League Shootout, Street Legal and Top the Cops exhibitions as well, along with autograph sessions at the Toyota and Mission Foods Midway Displays. Pro Stock Motorcycle autograph sessions will take place at the Suzuki Display, while a special kids-only autograph session takes place at 2:30 p.m. on Friday under the main grandstands.
Race fans at Sonoma Raceway can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the fan favorite SealMaster Track Walk. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes, where fans are invited to congratulate the Sonoma event winners.
Fans are invited to the Nitro Alley Stage all weekend, which will help create a festive atmosphere leading into Nitro Alley. The Nitro Alley Stage will be the main entertainment hub in the pits when the Camping World Drag Racing Series competitors are not on the track, hosting Nitro School, meet and greets and much more. As always, fans get a pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. Fans can see their favorite teams in action and servicing their hot rods between rounds, get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers, and more. They can also visit NHRA’s Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create an exciting atmosphere that includes interactive displays, merchandise, food, and fun.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:30 and 7 p.m. PT on Friday, July 28 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, July 29 at 12:40 and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. PT on Sunday, July 30. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 12 p.m. ET on Saturday, 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, and then eliminations on FOX at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday.
The first round of the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle All-Star Callout takes place at 12:30 p.m. PT, with the semifinals at 2:15 p.m. and the finals at 3:40 p.m. It will be broadcast at 10 p.m. ET on FS1.