CAPPS READY TO DEFEND BACK-TO-BACK TITLES IN SONOMA: Ron Capps, the driver of the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car, is one of the most recognizable faces on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series tour thanks to his NAPA TV commercials and his social media following, but when the NHRA heads to Sonoma for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals, he’ll be even more recognizable because Sonoma is home to him.
“The place is like home to me, so is the whole [Western] Swing, but Sonoma is always a place that's got a big gold circle around it,” Capps said. “Every season, we pack the motorhome, and everybody that I went to high school with, I grew up with, my family, everybody is there; we stay in the motorhome up on the hill, and it's just a big homecoming for me. It's good karma; I love that place.”
Not only is Capps a fan of Sonoma because it’s his home track, but he also has been pretty successful at the track set among the beautiful backdrop of the Sonoma Valley with hills of wineries as far as the eye can see. In addition to being the defending event winner, he has won the event the last two times the NHRA has stopped in Sonoma.
“I kind of forgot it was back to back,” Capps said. “I remember winning last year and going to Disneyland with my kids the day after on our way home, and I forgot actually that we won the year before.”
For tickets for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals, call Sonoma, 800-870-RACE (7223), or log on to RaceSonoma.com.
Top Fuel leader Spencer Massey was one of seven drivers to clinch Countdown playoff berths in Denver.
SEVEN DRIVERS CLINCH COUNTDOWN POSITIONS IN DENVER: Two more drivers clinched Countdown playoff berths last Sunday as the result of final eliminations at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, bringing the number of drivers who have secured their invitations to the Countdown to the Championship playoffs to seven. Spencer Massey clinched by reaching the Top Fuel semifinals and Andrew Hines by reaching the second round of Pro Stock Motorcycle. In qualifying, Funny Car’s Robert Hight; Pro Stock’s Greg Anderson, Jason Line and Allen Johnson; and Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Eddie Krawiec secured berths. The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series regular season concludes Labor Day weekend at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus. A six-race playoff series will lead to the crowning of the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series champs.
COUNTDOWN FIELDS TO DATE
1. Spencer Massey
1. Robert Hight
1. Greg Anderson
2. Jason Line
3. Allen Johnson
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. Eddie Krawiec
2. Andrew Hines
ALLEN JOHNSON RACES TO FULL THROTTLE SERIES LEAD IN PRO STOCK: Allen Johnson has so much confidence in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger that he’s talking about sweeping the Western Swing. The Tennessee driver got off to a great start in the grueling three-races-in-three-weeks test with a win at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Denver. Next up, the NHRA Sonoma Nationals in Wine Country. Johnson has dominated recently in Denver, and his win last weekend was his fourth in the last six consecutive final rounds at the mile-high track. For only the second time in his 17-year career, Johnson moved into the top spot in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series points standings. He also clinched his spot in the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s playoffs.
“You know, this is a tough danged sport,” Johnson said. “I don’t care what anybody says. I don’t care how good your car is running. It’s tough to win. For the rest of the Western Swing, we’ve got the car, and if I can do my job, we can bring out that broom at the end.”
NHRA SONOMA NATIONALS, SONOMA, July 27–29: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its 14th stop of 23 events in the 2012 season in the San Francisco Bay area of Northern California, and drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points in the battles for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2011 winners are Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800-870-RACE (7223) or log on to RaceSonoma.com.
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA NORTHWEST NATIONALS, PACIFIC RACEWAYS, August 3–5: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its 15th stop of 23 events in the 2012 season in the Northwest, and drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points in the battles for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2011 winners are Del Worsham (Top Fuel), Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 800-884-NHRA (6472) or log on to NHRATix.com.
LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS, BRAINERD INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, August 16–19: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its 16th stop of 23 events in the 2012 season, and drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points at the penultimate race in the regular season for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2011 winners are Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Johnny Gray (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 218-824-7223 or log on to TicketReturn.com.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
ANOTHER FINAL ROUND FOR COURTNEY FORCE: For the second time in three races, rookie Funny Car driver Courtney Force advanced to the final round in her Traxxas Ford Mustang. In Denver at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, she dropped an incredibly close race to veteran driver Jack Beckman, losing by nine-thousandths of a second in the final, 4.289 seconds to 4.277 seconds. Force reached her first Funny Car final in Chicago two races ago.
“We had a great day. Making it all the way to the final round was huge for our Traxxas Ford Mustang team,” she said. “Going up against someone like [Ron] Capps [in the semifinals] was tough. It’s definitely a challenge taking on someone like that, so getting that win against him was huge. Going to our second final in three races shows that I have a great race car, and we’re constantly fighting for that top 10 spot. We definitely have a shot at it.” With the final-round effort, she moved to sixth place in the Funny Car points order.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
1: TOP FUEL ROOKIE alBALOOSHI EARNS FIRST ROUND-WIN OF SEASON: At the 13th race of the season, Khalid alBalooshi raced to his first eliminations round-victory of the season, outrunning seven-time world champ Tony Schumacher in first-round action at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals. The rookie driver had posted 12 first-round losses prior to his breakthrough win behind the wheel of the Al-Anabi Racing Top Fuel dragster.
“I saw the win light, but I didn’t believe it,” alBalooshi said. “Before the first round, I felt good; I felt everything was OK. The problem was I felt that way before, but we still lost. Today we won the round, and it felt very good. Everybody on our team, our crew chief [Jason McCulloch] and all of the guys, have been working so hard, and I am happy we won the round. I feel much better with the first-round win, but I am sorry we lost in the second round; I wanted us to get to the semifinals, but I look forward to racing again next weekend.”
DID YOU KNOW…
COUNTDOWN BERTHS UP FOR GRABS FOR 10 DRIVERS IN SONOMA: As many as 10 drivers can punch their tickets to the playoffs by earning a berth to the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship with a strong performance at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals this weekend. Drivers who can clinch are Antron Brown, Tony Schumacher and Steve Torrence in Top Fuel; Ron Capps, Mike Neff and Jack Beckman in Funny Car; Mike Edwards and Vincent Nobile in Pro Stock; and Hector Arana Jr. and Hector Arana Sr. in Pro Stock Motorcycle. For tickets for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals, call Sonoma, 800-870-RACE (7223), or log on to RaceSonoma.com.