On a hot, northern California track, before a sold-out crowd, Ron Capps and Tony Schumacher raced to the finals of the NHRA Sonoma Nationals to lead the Dodge//Mopar® contingent.
Capps took his Mopar-powered Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car to a runner-up finish, his second in a row. Along the way to his fourth final of the season, Capps clinched a Countdown to the Championship playoff berth and achieved a milestone 700th career round win.
In Top Fuel, Tony Schumacher drove his Mopar-powered U.S. Army dragster to his 151st career final round, narrowly falling to Blake Alexander in the end.
After defeating first round opponent Richard Townsend, Capps faced teammate Matt Hagan in round two. Against Hagan, Capps moved first and powered down the track in 3.969 seconds, earning the title of second-winningest driver in Funny Car history with his 700th professional round win.
Capps then lined up against John Force in the semifinals for their 96th career matchup. 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 four-time Sonoma winner faced Robert Hight in the finals with the starting line advantage and led until the eighth-mile mark when he dropped a cylinder and Hight was able to power to the win. Capps clinched a spot in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship and elevated himself to second in the standings.
Qualifying in the No. 4 spot, Schumacher faced Shawn Reed in the first round of eliminations, making a 3.743-second, 330.88-mph pass for the victory. He lined up against Brittany Force in the second round and pedaled his way past her as she smoked the tires.
In the semifinals, he was opposite longtime rival Doug Kalitta for their 90th career face-off and took the win despite dropping a cylinder. Schumacher avenged last weekend’s first round loss to Kalitta in Denver, which came by a margin of one 10,000th of a second – or 1 inch at the finish line. Schumacher’s runner-up showing vaulted him to second in the Top Fuel standings and also clinched his spot in the NHRA Countdown.
Leah Pritchett, coming off her second Top Fuel victory of the season and 11th of her career last weekend at the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals Powered by Mopar, wasn’t able to equal those results this weekend. The No. 2 qualifier, in her Jeb Allen-backed Palomar Builders/Mopar Top Fuel racer, double-stepped and red-lighted in first-round eliminations, giving the round win to No. 15 qualifier Bill Litton. Despite the early exit, Pritchett clinched her spot in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, the third of her career.
Matt Hagan had a session-best 3.958-second pass in his Southwind Builders/Mopar Dodge Charger SRT® Hellcat Funny Car in the first round against Jim Campbell. After running low E.T. in the round in just his second race in the new SRT Hellcat, Hagan had to face his 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 also clinched a spot in the NHRA Countdown, the fourth DSR driver to do so.
Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car driver Tommy Johnson Jr. earned a position in the top half of the Funny Car field at the site of his first career No. 1 qualifier position, Sonoma Raceway. He got past Cruz Pedregon after the eighth-mile mark in the first round eliminations with a 4.102-second pass and win. He had lane choice for round two but had to face his Don Schumacher Racing teammate, Jack Beckman. Johnson got off the line first and collected the round, although Beckman made a strong effort until a belt failed. In the semifinals, Johnson faced Robert Hight, who had lane choice. The pair dueled in a great side-by-side race, but Hight had a small starting line advantage and took the win with a 3.956-second run over Johnson’s 3.990.
Jack Beckman, the 2015 Sonoma Nationals Funny Car winner, was the No. 2 qualifier this year in his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T and faced defending champ J.R. Todd in the first round matchup, taking the win with a strong pass at 3.973 seconds. He had to face DSR teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. in round two with lane choice, but lost a blower belt right before the lights to give the holeshot win to Johnson.