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DSR Sonoma Pre-Race Report

NHRA Sonoma Nationals
Event No. 9 of 20
Sonoma Raceway
Sonoma, Calif.
July 23-25, 2021

Noteworthy:

  • NHRA Camping World Series Funny Car champion Matt Hagan enters the race weekend fresh off of a win from the pole at the Mile-High Nationals
  • By winning Denver, Hagan has the unique opportunity to ‘sweep the Swing’ for the first time in his career. Hagan’s Denver win was his first victory at that track, and in order to have a shot at winning the 2021 trio of Western Swing races, he’ll have to accomplish that same feat this weekend – breaking through for a first Sonoma triumph 
  • No. 3 ranked Hagan finished as the event runner-up the last time the NHRA visited Sonoma (2019)
  • Ron Capps has advanced to the semifinals or better at three out of the last four events
  • Capps has a stellar 2021 qualifying record, having qualified fifth or better (including two poles) through the first eight races
  • As a native of central California’s San Luis Obispo, Capps considers Sonoma Raceway to be a hometown track
  • The Sonoma Nationals marks No. 2 ranked Antron Brown’s 450th NHRA national event 
  • Leah Pruett owns the Sonoma Raceway E.T. record, achieved when she powered to a 3.669 E.T. during qualifying in 2017

DSR Driver Information:

Top Fuel:

 
ANTRON BROWN
Driver of the Matco Tools Toyota Top Fuel Dragster

Sonoma Event Highlights: 
  • Four-time event champion (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015)  
  • Three-time runner-up:
    • Top Fuel (2017)  
    • Pro Stock Motorcycle (2004, 2006)  
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2008, 2015) 
2020 Sonoma Recap:
N/A (canceled due to COVID-19)

2019 Sonoma Recap:
Qualified fourth; Semifinal finish (defeated Cameron Ferre in E1, Doug Kalitta in E2; defeated by Clay Millican in E3)

Last Event (Denver):
Qualified ninth; First round exit (defeated by Greg Carrillo in E1)

Career Statistics:
449 races; 68 wins (16 Pro Stock Motorcycle); 49 No. 1 Qualifiers (11 PSM)

Noteworthy:
  • The Sonoma Nationals marks No. 2 ranked Antron Brown’s 450th NHRA event         
    • *Includes Pro Stock Motorcycle
Quotable:
“Very excited to go back to Sonoma. There’s always such a great crowd out there, the fans come from all over, you can feel the energy, and it’s just such a great atmosphere. After our outing in Denver, our Matco Tools team is looking to get back on track and back to thriving. Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald, Brad Mason, all my crew guys, I can see that look in their eye. That look of hunger that says ‘we’re ready.’ We’re ready to go to Sonoma, not just to drink wine, we’re ready to go there and eat.”
 
LEAH PRUETT
Driver of the Okuma Top Fuel Dragster

Sonoma Event Highlights: 
  • 2017 No. 1 qualifier 
2020 Sonoma Recap:
N/A (canceled due to COVID-19)

2019 Sonoma Recap:
Qualified 11th; First round exit (defeated by Austin Prock in E1)

Last Event (Denver):
Qualified 11th; Quarterfinal finish (defeated Doug Kalitta in E1; defeated by Joey Haas in E2)

Career Statistics:
160 races; eight wins; 12 No. 1 Qualifiers 

Noteworthy:
  • Leah Pruett owns the Sonoma Raceway E.T. record, achieved when she powered to a 3.669 E.T. during qualifying in 2017
Quotable:
“Drag racing is a sport of ebbs and flows. This is certainly not where we wanted to be at this point in the season, but the trick is to not let it get you down or get inside your own head. All of the biggest names in our industry have gone through spells where they’ve had their struggles and they’ve always rebounded. My DSR teammates are a perfect example of overcoming adversity and bouncing back. Matt Hagan won the championship in 2011 and then didn’t even make the Countdown the year after. He’s since gone on to win two more championships. Ron Capps is one of the most decorated drivers in our sport, and he had to wait 20 years before winning a championship. Antron Brown, a three-time world champ, recently experienced a 42-race winless streak and has since won two races in the last nine events and appears to be back in championship-form. As Antron always says, ‘you have to beat resistance with persistence,’ and that is what we will continue to do.”
 
 
Funny Car:

RON CAPPS
Driver of the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat


Sonoma Event Highlights: 
  • Four-time event champion (1997, 2010, 2011, 2013)  
  • Four-time runner-up (2002, 2005, 2016, 2018)  
  • 1998 No. 1 qualifier 
2020 Sonoma Recap:
N/A (canceled due to COVID-19)

2019 Sonoma Recap:
Qualified ninth; First round exit (defeated by Blake Alexander in E1)

Last Event (Denver):
Qualified fourth; Semifinal finish (defeated Terry Haddock in E1, John Force in E2; defeated by Matt Hagan in E3)

Career Statistics:
574 races; 66 wins (one Top Fuel); 27 No. 1 qualifiers 

Noteworthy:
  • Ron Capps has advanced to the semifinals or better at three out of the last four events
  • Capps and the NAPA team have a stellar 2021 qualifying record, having qualified fifth or better (including two poles) through the first eight races
  • As a native of central California’s San Luis Obispo, Capps considers Sonoma Raceway to be a hometown track
Quotable:
“Sonoma has always been one of my favorite tracks, and one I consider to be a home race. Growing up south of there in San Luis Obispo, I always have a lot of friends and family come out, and we always camp up on the hill overlooking the track. Being able to win at a race when your family is there is always something special. Hopefully this is the spot where we’ll get our first win this year. The NAPA team came off of a great weekend up in Denver. Anytime you can leave there with your parts in one piece and inventory well-stocked, it’s a great thing. We’re headed to sea level and Sonoma fans are in for a treat again with Friday night qualifying under the lights. It’s going to be fast like it always is. Our NAPA AUTO PARTS team is a win waiting to happen, and I can’t think of any better place than Sonoma to return to our winning ways and finish the weekend with a Wally.”


MATT HAGAN
Driver of the Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye

Sonoma Event Highlights:
  • Two-time runner-up (2012, 2019) 
  • Two-time No. 1 qualifier (2009, 2013) 
2020 Sonoma Recap:
N/A (canceled due to COVID-19)

2019 Sonoma Recap:
Qualified sixth; Event runner-up (defeated J.R. Todd in E1, Jack Beckman in E2, John Force in E3; defeated by Robert Hight in E4)

Last Event (Denver):
Qualified No. 1; Event champion (defeated Chris King in E1, BYE in E2, Ron Capps in E3, Alexis DeJoria in E4)

Career Statistics:
283 races; 37 wins; 42 No. 1 qualifiers 

Noteworthy:
  • After racing to win No. 37 from the pole at the most recent stop on the NHRA tour, the defending series title holder appears to be back in championship form
  • By winning Denver, Hagan will have the opportunity to ‘sweep the Swing’ for the first time in his career. Hagan’s Denver win was his first victory at that track, and in order to have a shot at winning the trio of Western Swing races, he’ll have to accomplish that same feat this weekend – breaking through for a first Sonoma triumph 
  • No. 3 ranked Hagan finished as the event runner-up the last time the NHRA visited Sonoma (2019)
Quotable:
“We’re coming off of this huge win at Bandimere Speedway, which was something I was trying to do for a long time, and finally, after more than a decade, I was able to check it off the list. My guys work so hard and I know they’re going to move through this Sonoma race working just as hard to put a great race car underneath me. You can see the confidence in Dickie Venables and in every one of the guys on my team. Our Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye has been running really well these last few races. Everything is starting to click. To do what we were able to do in Denver was just amazing, so I can only imagine what we’ll be able to do this weekend back at sea level.  
 
“They say you’ve got to win Denver to ‘sweep the Swing,’ and this is the first time in my career that I’ll have an opportunity to do that, but we’ll take it one race and one round at a time. I’m still on such a high from Sunday, and I can’t wait to carry this momentum into Sonoma. Right now, I’m back home working, grinding, getting caught up on my sleep, selling cattle, meat, and CBD. The grind never stops, not even during the Western Swing.”

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