SONOMA, Calif. (July 25) - Sixteen-time Funny Car champion John Force rolls into Sonoma Raceway with his PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS team for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals this weekend as the race’s defending champion.
Force has also been in the final round in three of the last four seasons at a track that has been a good one for the legendary driver. He has eight victories at the northern California track, the most among any driver in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
And Sonoma also holds other special memories for Force, who in 2006 witnessed Eric Medlen win here for John Force Racing. Medlen was critically injured in a crash during testing the next year and later succumbed to those injuries.
Sonoma Raceway annually holds the Eric Medlen Ice Cream Social after the final round Sunday in the late driver’s honor, as Medlen was often said, “You can never be sad when you're eating ice cream.”
SONOMA, Calif. (July 25) - Robert Hight, driver of the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro, heads into this weekend’s NHRA Nationals at Sonoma Raceway as the only driver in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car class that can sweep the Western Swing.
“You can’t sweep it unless you win Denver,” Hight said.
And Hight did just that â€“ ending a 34-race drought in winning the Mile-High Nationals last weekend at Bandimere Speedway, his fourth career victory at the track. Now, he sets his sights on Sonoma, where he has won once (2008). He is gunning for a third final-round appearance in four races and second consecutive victory. He last posted consecutive wins in 2014, when he won three straight early in the season.
“We’re pretty happy with where we’re at, especially where we’ve been qualifying every week,” said Hight, who has qualified No. 3 or better in seven consecutive races. “We have a good combination, a fast car â€¦ it’s pretty stout with what we’ve done in qualifying. It shows we have good performance. Once we get consistency on race day â€“ I think we’re there, (crew chief) Jimmy’s (Prock) already made a lot of changes last week to prevent dropping cylinders â€“ we’re gonna win some races.
“The Western Swing is my favorite time of the year,” the 2009 Funny Car champion added. “I remember being a crew member on the Western Swing and how much work it was, but at the same time how much fun it is.”
SONOMA, Calif. (July 25) - Advance Auto Parts driver Courtney Force watched her John Force Racing teammate win last weekend, and she’d love to follow Robert Hight into the winner’s circle in the NHRA Sonoma Nationals this weekend at Sonoma Raceway.
Hight had raced to two final rounds this season before breaking through with his first victory of 2017 at Bandimere Speedway on Sunday. Force herself has two final-round appearances this season, yet is still looking for victory No. 1 of 2017.
“We’re looking for our first win this season,” Force said. “We’ve won in Sonoma before and we’ve done well there, so we’re looking to get some points and continue to go rounds as we get to the middle of the Swing.”
Force qualified No. 1 last weekend in Denver, her sixth of the season, kicking off the three-race Western Swing on a positive note. Sonoma is race No. 2, with Seattle following a week later. Force has a solid record at Sonoma, winning in 2014 from the No. 1 qualifying spot.
“It’s the middle of the Western Swing, and it’ll be great to be back in Sonoma,” Force said. “We’ve done well at this track in the past, and I grew up watching my dad race at this event, so I’m really looking forward to getting back there.”
SONOMA, Calif. (July 25) - Brittany Force and her Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster head into the second leg of the annual Western Swing, the NHRA Nationals at Sonoma Raceway, confident in challenging not just for round wins but overall victory.
Force, of Yorba Linda, Calif., has won first-round matchups in seven NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series races - she’s qualified No. 1 or No. 2 in three of those and no worse than No. 6, by the way - and has advanced to the semifinals in four of the last six races, winning at Epping, N.H.Â
In two of the other three semi finals appearances, including last weekend’s Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo., she fell to the eventual race winner.
“I feel like we’re all in a really good place, so we just keep moving forward, keep pushing and we’ll be in the winner’s circle before we know it,” said Force, sixth in the Top Fuel points standings and only two points behind Doug Kalitta for fifth.
Force is looking to continue a strong showing as of late to Sonoma, where she has one quarterfinals appearance in four previous races. She was the No. 1 qualifier at Sonoma in 2014.
“I love Sonoma,” Force said. “One of my favorite tracks on the circuit. It’s close to home. I’ve always wanted to win there and get that big goblet at the end of the race track. (Sister) Courtney’s won there, my dad (John Force) has won there, and have a lot of memories there with Eric Medlen. To win there would be outstanding. Love the track, so hopefully, we can get everything figured out so we can win there.”