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Sonoma Pre-Race Report

Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals

Event 15 of 24 (Sonoma)
Sonoma Raceway
Sonoma, California
July 27-29, 2018

Noteworthy:

  • Antron Brown returns as the Top Fuel event runner-up 
  • Leah Pritchett enters the event fresh off of a win from the previous race (Denver) and is looking to capture her third win of the season en route to 'sweeping the swing'
  • Pritchett claimed the 2017 TF No. 1 qualifier when she powered to the quickest pass in Sonoma Raceway history (3.669-seconds)
  • Tommy Johnson Jr. captured his first professional No. 1 qualifier at Sonoma in 1994 (Top Fuel)
  • Ahead of the race weekend, Ron Capps will be honored with the inaugural Eric Medlen Spirit Award during the annual Eric Medlen Nitro Night fundraising dinner on Thursday, July 26

DSR-Owned Track Records:
Top Fuel, E.T.: 3.669-seconds, Leah Pritchett (2017)


DSR Driver Information:
 
Top Fuel:

ANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster

NHRA Sonoma Event Highlights: 
  • Four-time event champion (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015) 
  • Three-time runner-up
    • 2017 
    • 2004, 2006 (Pro Stock Motorcycle) 
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier
    • 2008, 2015 
2017 Sonoma Recap:
Qualified fourth; Event runner-up (defeated Troy Buff in E1, Scott Palmer in E2, Terry McMillen in E3; defeated by Steve Torrence in E4)
 
Last event (Denver):
Qualified eighth; First round exit (defeated by Scott Palmer in E1)

2018 Season Statistics:
13 round wins; ranked sixth in points
 
Career Statistics:
396 races; 65 wins (16 Pro Stock Motorcycle); 49 No. 1 qualifiers (11 PSM)

Quotable:
“We’re going to Sonoma where it’s always been a good race for us. It’s always been a good race to break out and that’s where we need to start, and just get the ball on our side and in our court. It all starts in qualifying – we have to qualify better, first, and that takes care of itself. When you qualify in the top three spots, it makes it a lot easier and better, so that’s the game plan. This kind of a season we’ve had so far is not something we’re used to. We’ve just got to fight and we know what we’ve got to do and we know what’s at hand. Our main focus is to be ready when we get to the Countdown and that hasn’t changed from day one this season.”


 
LEAH PRITCHETT
Driver of the Palomar Builders Top Fuel Dragster 
NHRA Sonoma Event Highlights:
  • 2017 No. 1 Qualifier 

2017 Sonoma Recap:
Qualified No. 1; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Terry Haddock in E1; defeated by Terry McMillen in E2)
 
Last event (Denver):
Qualified No. 1; Event champion (defeated Terry Totten in E1, Scott Palmer in E2, Clay Millican in E3, Doug Kalitta in E4)

2018 Season Statistics:
22 round wins; ranked third in points
 
Career Statistics:
108 races; seven wins; ten No. 1 qualifiers

Noteworthy:
  • Enters the event fresh off of a win from the previous race (Denver) and is looking to capture her third win of the season en route to 'sweeping the swing'
  • Palomar Builders is owned by NHRA legend and Redding, California resident Jeb Allen

Quotable:
"Feeling every bit good about this Western Swing. As long of a week the Dodge Nationals was for our team, it feels like it has flown by. With Denver in our rear view mirror and a Wally on the dash, we feel good about our momentum going into Sonoma. From one extreme altitude to sea level, the race car components may change, but the motivation to keep winning and excel is still sky high. I know last weekend's success was more than just magic on the mountain. We know what it’s like and what it takes to win back-to-back, and that is what we’re focusing on. Racing for (NHRA legend and owner of Palomar Builders) Jeb (Allen) is an honor and I look forward to racing with him on the line supporting us, and meeting all of his business associates that helped make it possible for us to compete in Sonoma this weekend. Let’s see if we can win again with another new one-off livery!"


 
TONY SCHUMACHER
Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
NHRA Sonoma Event Highlights: 
  • Two-time event champion (2007, 2008) 
  • Four-time runner-up (1999, 2006, 2010, 2011) 
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2006, 2011) 
 
2017 Sonoma Recap:
Qualified fifth; First round exit (defeated by Scott Palmer in E1)
 
Last event (Denver):
Qualified seventh; First round exit (defeated by Doug Kalitta in E1)

2018 Season Statistics:
18 round wins; ranked fourth in points
 
Career Statistics:
494 races; 84 wins; 87 No. 1 qualifiers

Quotable:
“I can’t wait to get to Sonoma. We’re going to show up a little more aggressive. We have a car that can win any of these races. We’ve had some bad luck and some timing where we would’ve beat any other car but the one we’re racing, and that happens. But that always changes, and the key to a winning, championship team is knowing that – keeping your chin up, just being a machine every time. I love Sonoma. We left straight from Denver to go to Sonoma because I love the place, itself. I love the people, I love the fans, the stands are packed and huge and I can’t wait for the weekend. Like I said, Mike (Neff, crew chief) told me we’re going to show up and be a little more aggressive. We’re going to make our 60-foot a little quicker, get the car moving a little quicker, and just be more aggressive because we’ve got a car that can go down the track and now it’s time to win this championship.”



Funny Car:
 
JACK BECKMAN
Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T
NHRA Sonoma Event Highlights: 
  • 2015 event champion 
  • 2010 runner-up 
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2010, 2015) 

2017 Sonoma Recap:
Qualified third; Semifinal finish (defeated Jonnie Lindberg in E1, Del Worsham in E2; defeated by J.R. Todd in E3)
 
Last event (Denver):
Qualified second; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Bye in E1; defeated by Ron Capps in E2)

2018 Season Statistics:
19 round wins; ranked fifth in points 
 
Career Statistics:
290 races; 27 wins; 24 No. 1 qualifiers

Quotable:
“Lately, our Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger hasn’t seemed to be able to find a way to get out of second round. I’m not superstitious and I’m very optimistic because what we’ve done over the last five races is make a decent car much, much better; much more predictable and consistent. Now I feel like we have a tune-up window similar to what we were enjoying at the beginning of the year when we were going late rounds at every race. Getting off the mountain at Denver gets us back into more of a standard tune-up area and I have every reason to believe we should be able to go to Sonoma and leave with the trophy. Also, I start that weekend by emceeing the Eric Medlen Nitro Night on Thursday. I’ve been going every year since Eric’s passing and I’ve emceed the event the last several years and it’s always a great way to start out what I hope is going to be a great weekend for our team."


 
RON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
NHRA Sonoma Event Highlights: 
  • Four-time event champion (1997, 2010, 2011, 2013) 
  • Three-time runner-up (2002, 2005, 2016) 
  • 1998 No. 1 Qualifier 
 
2017 Sonoma Recap:
Qualified 12th; First round exit (defeated by Tommy Johnson Jr. in E1)
 
Last event (Denver):
Qualified seventh; Event runner-up (defeated J.R. Todd in E1, Jack Beckman in E2, Robert Hight in E3; defeated by John Force in E4)

2018 Season Statistics:
20 round wins; ranked third in points
 
Career Statistics:
521 races; 59 wins (one Top Fuel); 21 No. 1 qualifiers
 
Noteworthy:
  • Ahead of the race weekend, will be honored with the inaugural Eric Medlen Spirit Award during the annual Eric Medlen Nitro Night fundraising dinner on Thursday, July 26

Quotable:
"This is probably one of the most exciting times of the year for me for a couple of reasons. First of all, growing up on the central coast of California, the Sonoma race track has always been sort of a 'home race' for me. This part of the season means that it's time for our annual family trip that coincides with the West Coast Swing. One of the other great things leading up to the Sonoma race is that we always celebrate Eric Medlen's life on Thursday night as part of the race and it's a very, very special night, and this year should be more fun than ever.

"Every year we have a huge contingent of NAPA AUTO PARTS customers come out and nothing's better than to be able to win with your friends and family and our great NAPA AUTO PARTS Northern California fans."

 
 
MATT HAGAN
Driver of the Southwind Builders Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
NHRA Sonoma Event Highlights: 
  • 2012 runner-up 
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2009, 2013) 
 
2017 Sonoma Recap:
Qualified sixth; First round exit (defeated by Del Worsham in E1)
 
Last event (Denver):
Qualified 12th; First round exit (defeated by John Force in E1)

2018 Season Statistics:
22 round wins; ranked second in points 
 
Career Statistics:
230 races; 29 wins; 33 No. 1 qualifiers

Quotable:
"We didn’t so great in Denver. We struggled in qualifying up there on the mountain and struggled first round, but that’s Denver, it's a mile-high. We don’t have a great tuneup for high altitudes, but we do have a great tune-up down at sea level. We’ve been running strong, running consistent and the car has been riding really well. I’m excited to run this new Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat body some more. We didn’t get many runs with it last weekend, but I feel like in Sonoma we’ll get four good laps in qualifying and then hopefully get back into our stride for race day.

"We're running a special Southwind Builders scheme this weekend, and the plan is to park it in the winner's circle at the end of the weekend. We hope to be able to make some more runs, gain some more points and see what we can do when we get back to the conditions we’re used to."


 
TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T 
NHRA Sonoma Event Highlights:
  • 2015 runner-up  
  • 1994 No. 1 qualifier (Top Fuel) 

2017 Sonoma Recap:
Qualified fifth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Ron Capps in E1; defeated by Courtney Force in E2)
 
Last event (Denver):
Qualified sixth; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Bob Tasca III in E1; defeated by Robert Hight in E2)

2018 Season Statistics:
13 round wins; ranked seventh in points
 
Career Statistics:
436 races; 17 wins (two Top Fuel); 15 No. 1 qualifiers (one Top Fuel)

Noteworthy:
  • Captured his first professional No. 1 qualifier at Sonoma in 1994 (Top Fuel) 
  • Ran his career-best speed during the 2017 event (332.02-mph) 

Quotable:
"Looking forward to Sonoma. We were the runner-up there two years ago and always have a great time in wine country. I got engaged there last year at this race so I’m looking forward to going back and reliving those great memories. We have a really good race car right now that was pretty competitive in Denver. That was our best race in quite a while so we’ll see if we can build on that momentum and keep it going. Main thing is to win the race and stop anybody from getting a sweep."
 

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