DSR Sonoma Post-Race Recap

Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals

Event 15 of 24 (Sonoma)
Sonoma Raceway
Sonoma, California
July 27-29, 2018
DSR Sonoma Elimination Highlights:

  • Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Ron Capps (Funny Car) raced to runner-up finishes at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals
  • Capps' final round appearance was his second in two races 
  • Four DSR drivers clinched berths in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs:
    • Top Fuel: Leah Pritchett, Tony Schumacher 
    • Funny Car: Ron Capps, Matt Hagan 
  • By clinching a spot in the Countdown to the Championship, Schumacher has set himself up to finish in the ‘top 10’ for the 20th consecutive year
  • Schumacher and Capps advanced to second in points in their respective categories 
  • Capps reached a milestone round win, setting off his 700th professional win light during round two
  • All four DSR Funny Cars advanced to the quarterfinals 

Driver Information:

Top Fuel:

Driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 3 (3.744 E.T. at 327.43 MPH)

The Results: 
E1: 3.786 E.T. at 326.87 MPH defeated Jim Maroney 3.879 E.T. at 302.96 MPH
E2: 3.822 E.T. at 317.72 MPH defeated by Blake Alexander 3.791 E.T. at 330.23 MPH

Race Recap:
Last year’s Sonoma Raceway Top Fuel runner-up faced newbie Jim Maroney in round one. Antron Brown earned his 690th professional round win when he powered his Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota Top Fuel machine down the track in 3.786-seconds, defeating Maroney’s 3.879 E.T.

In the quarterfinals, Brown faced ‘Countdown spoiler’ Blake Alexander. The two drivers were nearly identical leaving the line. Brown led until just before the eighth mile when Alexander pulled ahead and claimed the win, ending Brown’s chances at picking up his fifth Sonoma Raceway event win.

“We had it to the 330-foot mark and we were even at 660-feet with a hole out, and unfortunately that’s all she wrote. At the end, that’s just NHRA Drag Racing. We’re used to fighting like this. It’s a fight right now. The good thing is, we made some great strides at this race. Every race, we’ve been making strides, getting better and better. I can tell you this right now, that this Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota team is there right now, they’re back. We always need a little luck to go our way, and we’ll get a couple of other things better, and then we’ll see where we can end up.

"Seattle’s always been a good race for us, and we’re excited that it’s the next one. We really wanted to win this one at Sonoma. We set ourselves up to win this race this weekend. We did exactly what we wanted to do first round. We were going to pick it up a little bit that next round, and in hindsight it was supposed to be a 3.77, that’s what we were looking to do and it was plenty enough to get the job done. With that being said, we’ll lick our wounds and we’ll get ready for Seattle. I’m excited to get out there and race, I can’t wait to go down the track again.” 

Driver of the Palomar Builders Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 2 (3.727 E.T. at 328.28 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 8.725 E.T. at 82.65 MPH defeated by Bill Litton 4.169 E.T. at 219.76 MPH

Race Recap:
After qualifying second for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals, Leah Pritchett and her Jeb Allen-backed Palomar Builders Top Fuel dragster team faced No. 15 qualifier Bill Litton on Sunday morning. Litton was successful in seeking the upset win against last week’s event champion when Pritchett suffered a rare misstep, hitting the throttle early and activating the red light, enabling Litton the immediate round win.

Despite the early exit, Pritchett was able to clinch a Countdown to the Championship playoff berth, the third of her career.

“We had some really good momentum coming into race day, by far. Qualifying No. 2, three pretty great passes. The team worked extra hard Saturday night repairing from Q4. Like anything, you wish you could put your thumb on why something like that happened, but I feel like I was in a little different mental state today, knowing that we clinched our way into the Countdown. Trying to elevate my level of performance to practice for the Countdown, I just anticipated the tree and I thought the route I went was the route I needed to go. Ultimately, though, a testament to the attitude of this team is, the moment that it happened and the amount of support I have from them has made it pass over sooner than I could’ve ever even imagined. As Joe Barlam, one of our our great crew chiefs, says, there are two ways to deal with it and one of them is to get over it. I’m disgusted, by all means, but to live and die by the sword, you have to know where the sword’s at and today I found it. So, hopefully, from now on, we can just keep cutting it up. I could be salty as anything here by the ocean, but the way Jeb (Allen, weekend sponsor), our partners, the team and I have handled today’s early exit shows a lot of fortitude and we can only build on it.”

Driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 4 (3.747 E.T. at 327.98 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.743 E.T. at 330.88 MPH defeated Shawn Reed 4.776 E.T. at 157.04 MPH
E2: 4.375 E.T. at 192.71 MPH defeated Brittany Force 4.985 E.T. at 144.77 MPH
E3: 3.836 E.T. at 317.42 MPH defeated Doug Kalitta 3.837 E.T. at 274.44 MPH
E4: 4.345 E.T. at 219.65 MPH defeated by Blake Alexander 4.004 E.T. at 287.41 MPH

Race Recap:
Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher soldiered through a painful pinched nerve in his shoulder in driving his U.S. Army Dragster to his 151st career final round, coming up just short against upstart driver Blake Alexander.

From his No. 4 position on Sunday’s elimination ladder, Schumacher beat Shawn Reed, defending series champion Brittany Force, and longtime rival Doug Kalitta on his way to his fourth final round of the season. After laying down the best two Top Fuel runs during Saturday qualifying, Schumacher and the Army team felt confident they had the car to beat and opened the day with a stout run of 3.743 seconds at 330.88-mph in beating Reed, who smoked the tires well down track. He then had to pedal his way past a tire-smoking Force in the second round, illuminating the win light in 4.375-seconds while Force crossed the finish line in 4.985 seconds.

Then, in his semifinal matchup against Kalitta – their 90th career meeting – Schumacher prevailed for the 51st time despite dropping a cylinder. Schumacher avenged last weekend’s opening loss to Kalitta in Denver which came by a margin of one 10,000th of a second – or 1 inch at the finish line. Today’s win over Kalitta vaulted Schumacher to second in the Top fuel standings.

Schumacher had the starting-line advantage over Alexander in the final but began smoking the tires at halftrack. Alexander also began smoking his tires as he approached the finish line. His momentum was enough the get him there first – in 4.004 seconds – while Schumacher pedaled his way there in 4.345 seconds.

“It was a good points day. You know, I’ve had a pinched nerve in my shoulder. I can’t even move my right arm. To get to the final and cowboy through it all, I’m glad it’s done. I’m twitching everywhere. My right side’s in agony, I’ve had people working on it all day. Need to get that taken care of before next weekend at Seattle. Mike did a good job, Phil did a good job, the Army car was good. That last run, we had a hole out the run before and we made some changes, so it might have picked up something that wasn’t right. It happened late, right around 330-feet, which is kind of a long way out there. I smoke my tires, then he smoked his tires, but he had the momentum and that was it. Again, it was a good day. We made up points on the leader and two positions. You know, I can say that nobody else has any business writing any speeches, yet, because this team has proven time and again that we know how to figure it out by the time it matters. We ran so well yesterday that we felt like nobody was going to beat us today. We got a few lucky breaks, which we haven’t really had, and when you start running well and getting breaks, that’s how you win championships.”

Funny Car:

Driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T

Qualified: No. 2 (3.929 E.T. at 324.51 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.973 E.T. at 320.58 MPH defeated J.R. Todd 4.242 E.T. at 225.18 MPH
E2: 4.013 E.T. at 314.83 MPH defeated by Tommy Johnson Jr. 4.016 E.T. at 323.35 MPH

Race Recap:
The 2015 Sonoma Raceway event champ made two bonus point-worthy runs during qualifying to secure the No. 2 qualifying position going into race day. In his round one matchup versus J.R. Todd, Beckman wheeled his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge down the track in 3.973-seconds, defeating Todd’s tire-smoking effort and earning lane choice over teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. in round two. Against Johnson, Beckman was on a nice pass before losing a blower belt and slowing to a 4.013-second run which enabled Johnson to nab the holeshot win.

"Our car didn't run what it should have run second round and that's disappointing because I really think we have a car right now that can hang with anybody. That being said, even though it didn't run as quick as we wanted it to, we actually still made a decent lap, which tells me that we're at a point in our tune-up window that even if we miss it, we still have a very, very good race car. So onward and upward. We'll pack up and five days later in Seattle we'll unload and win that one."

Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T 
Qualified: No. 5 (3.972 E.T. at 319.75 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.995 E.T. at 318.99 MPH defeated Richard Townsend 10.192 E.T. at 85.25 MPH
E2: 3.969 E.T. at 322.65 MPH defeated Matt Hagan 4.512 E.T. at 190.59 MPH
E3: 4.000 E.T. at 321.04 MPH defeated John Force 4.081 E.T. at 321.42 MPH
E4: 4.077 E.T. at 296.11 MPH defeated by Robert Hight 3.984 E.T. at 319.75 MPH

Race Recap:
Ron Capps raced to a runner-up finish on Sunday at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals, his second final round in two weeks. 
The NAPA AUTO PARTS team was stellar throughout qualifying, making two ‘session best’ runs to secure a race day starting position in the top half of the field.
After defeating first-round opponent Richard Townsend in round one, Capps faced teammate Matt Hagan in round two. Against Hagan, Capps moved first and powered the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger down the track in 3.969-seconds, earning the second-winningest driver in Funny Car history his 700thprofessional round win.
Capps drew John Force in the semifinals. In their 96th meeting, Capps was able to avenge his final round loss to Force from one week prior by blasting down the track in 4.000-seconds, defeating Force’s 4.081-second run.
The Denver Funny Car runner-up lined up opposite Robert Hight in the finals. In his 116th final round appearance, Capps had the starting line advantage and led until the eighth mile when the car spun the tires and Hight was able to power to the win.
Capps, a four-time Sonoma Raceway winner, clinched a spot in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship on Sunday and advanced from third to second in the standings.

“Great weekend. We’ve made huge strides lately. Coming out of Denver, we had a lot of confidence, that was one of the best Denver showings we’ve had in a long time. To come here and unload and have that consistency right off the bat, it just kept giving (crew chief Rahn) Tobler more and more confidence. The biggest thing was those two (qualifying) runs in the heat, and those three bonus points each run. Those are the biggest for us for a couple of reasons. Tobler was able to get a feel for the car for Sunday and try some things.
“We really felt like we were going to be in the winner’s circle today. Anytime you race Robert Hight and (his crew chief) Jimmy Prock it’s a big matchup. We got out there, it moved around a little bit and spun, and they got by us.
“This was another great weekend in points for us. This is the time of year where we know we need to get into race form for the Countdown, and it starts with the Western Swing. I joked about a month ago that we were over 300 points behind the Funny Car leader and I said ‘you watch, we’re going to make a run for it,’ and it’ll be three years in a row if we can get the points-lead going into the start of the Countdown. We made a big jump today, and we’re going to keep collecting those Mello Yello points.”

Driver of the Southwind Builders Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Qualified: No. 4 (3.956 E.T. at 319.98 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 3.958 E.T. at 320.89 MPH defeated Jim Campbell 4.115 E.T. at 310.13 MPH 
E2: 4.512 E.T. at 190.59 MPH defeated by Ron Capps 3.969 E.T. at 322.65 MPH

Race Recap:
With a new sponsor on-board, Matt Hagan blasted to a session-best 3.958-second pass in his Southwind Builders Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat in the first round against Jim Campbell.

After running low E.T. of the round, Hagan found himself in the unfortunate situation of having to face teammate Ron Capps in the quarterfinals. Capps and the NAPA team had been near-perfect throughout the entire race weekend, and round two was no exception. Capps ran a 3.969-second pass, defeating Hagan’s 4.512 effort. Hagan leaves Sonoma having clinched a berth in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship.

“Had a really good opening lap but it got a little loose in the second round. It was great to have a new sponsor on the car, Southwind Builders. Obviously with the fires and all the folks who have lost their homes out here, it's really unfortunate. I think if you're drag racing and you support what we do and these guys are supporting what we do, definitely hit them up and give them a call if you're in the area. They're a great group of people and work really hard so we're proud to have them on as a sponsor this weekend.
“We need to move onto Seattle. We've done well there a time or so and always seem to qualify pretty well there, so let's focus on that. This [race] is behind us now. (Ron) Capps went around us in points but it's going to be battle down to the end no matter what."

Driver of the Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T 
Qualified: No. 7 (3.988 E.T. at 322.04 MPH)

The Results:
E1: 4.012 E.T. at 321.58 MPH defeated Cruz Pedregon 4.103 E.T. at 306.40 MPH
E2: 4.016 E.T. at 323.35 MPH defeated Jack Beckman 4.013 E.T. at 314.83 MPH
E3: 3.990 E.T. at 323.81 MPH defeated by Robert Hight 3.956 E.T. at 322.04 MPH

Race Recap:
At the scene of his career-first No. 1 qualifier, Tommy Johnson Jr. earned a position in the top-half of the Funny Car field to start race day in Sonoma. Against first round opponent Cruz Pedregon, Johnson navigated the Make-A-Wish Dodge down the stretch in 4.012-seconds, earning the round win and a spot in the quarterfinals.
Johnson lined up opposite teammate Jack Beckman in round two. Johnson had the starting line advantage against Beckman and was able to use his quick reaction time to snag the holeshot win over Beckman and advance to the semifinals.
The John Collins-led team tuned Johnson to a solid 3.990-second at 323.81-mph pass, but the Make-A-Wish car was narrowly defeated by Robert Hight’s 3.956-second run, ending their day at the semifinals.

“It’s been a tough season. We’ve struggled and have not been as consistent as we’d like, but we’re starting to gain some traction and we’re starting to get the car real consistent and become really competitive. We went to the semis and would have liked to have gone further, but really happy with how the car is starting to come around. I think that’s super important because there’s just three races left before the Countdown and it’s the right time to start making some headway. So, I’m really happy and look forward to going to Seattle and continuing.” 

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Points Standings:

Top Fuel
1. Steve Torrence - 1168*
2. Tony Schumacher - 1031*
3. Clay Millican - 1025*
4. Leah Pritchett - 989*
5. Doug Kalitta - 951*
6. Antron Brown - 809
7. Terry McMillen - 728
8. Brittany Force - 697
9. Scott Palmer - 617
10. Richie Crampton - 608

Funny Car
1. Courtney Force - 1197*
2. Ron Capps - 1032*
3. Robert Hight - 1024*
4. Matt Hagan - 1001*
5. Jack Beckman - 967
6. J.R. Todd - 863
7. Tommy Johnson Jr. - 819
8. John Force - 807
9. Shawn Langdon - 680
10. Bob Tasca III - 656

*Clinched berth in NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship

Our Sponsors

Join Shoe's News

Thank You!

Thank you for signing up to receive Shoe’s News.