Sonoma: Hillary Will final report

Hillary Will, driver of the KB Racing, LLC Top Fuel dragster, qualified No. 12 (3.898 seconds, 308.57 mph) advanced to the final round Hillary Will posts runner-up finish at "hometown" Sonoma drag strip SONOMA, Calif., (July 27, 2008) --...

Hillary Will, driver of the KB Racing, LLC Top Fuel dragster, qualified No. 12 (3.898 seconds, 308.57 mph) advanced to the final round

Hillary Will posts runner-up finish at "hometown" Sonoma drag strip

SONOMA, Calif., (July 27, 2008) -- Rising Top Fuel star Hillary Will, driver of the KB Racing, LLC dragster and native of Fortuna, Calif., came just one round-win short of fulfilling a childhood dream of winning the title trophy in front of her friends and family in attendance Sunday at the FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

Will, the No. 12 qualifier (3.898 seconds, 308.57 mph), defeated her teammate Dave Grubnic, driver of the DHL Top Fueler, in the first round of eliminations. She vanquished Cory McClenathan in the quarterfinals and then got a semi-final win over Antron Brown to advance to the "money" round.

In the finals, Will matched up against the driver of the Alan Johnson-tuned dragster. Will's 3.988-second, 306.19-mph lap came up just shy of her opponent's 3.886-second, 307.93-mph marks.

"It would have been great to get a win here in Sonoma, but today just wasn't our day," Will, a 28-year old resident of Ypsilanti, Mich., said. "We got really close, and I'm so proud of my team. They just kept going and persevering all weekend and gave me a better and better car with every run. We wanted the win, of course, but we're still happy with going some rounds and making the finals."

Until today, Will had won only one elimination round since her breakthrough first career NHRA event win in Topeka, Kan., the 9th event of the season, in early June.

"Ever since I was a kid growing up in Northern California, I have dreamed of winning in Sonoma," Will continued. "I have fond memories of my family going to Sonoma to go to the races and going through the pits and getting drivers' autographs. I feel very fortunate now to be able to drive my KB Racing, LLC Top Fueler down the drag strip at Infineon and all the tracks we go to."

Will's best Sonoma performance before today's final-round run was in her rookie season of 2006 when she went to the semifinals.

Will is currently in 7th place in POWERade championship points.

Beginning with the 13th event in Denver, the NHRA instituted a new racing distance for the nitro-fueled classes of Funny Car and Top Fuel dragster to 1,000 ft., as opposed to the traditional distance of 1,320 ft., or a quarter of a mile, as a temporary safety solution to help the drivers of the world's quickest and fastest racing safely bring their cars to a stop more efficiently. The unprecedented action is in response to the tragic death of Kalitta Motorsports' Scott Kalitta, who died in a high-speed Funny Car qualifying accident in Englishtown, N.J., June 21.

Will became the fastest woman in the history of NHRA drag racing when she posted a 334.65-mph lap down the quarter-mile race track at the first of event of the 2008 season in Pomona, Calif. She became the first driver of either gender to go over 300 mph at the new 1,000-ft. finish line in Denver with a 302.21-mph mark in qualifying.

Will is currently the only female driver competing in the Top Fuel class.

A former standout in the Top Alcohol Dragster class, Will moved up to the quickest and fastest NHRA professional class, Top Fuel, in 2006 behind the wheel of a newly formed team owned by Las Vegas businessman Ken Black and managed by Kalitta Motorsports, the multi-car team founded and owned by drag racing icon Connie "the Bounty Hunter" Kalitta. She won her first Top Fuel event trophy in Norwalk (IHRA) in her rookie season and made her first NHRA final-round appearance in Memphis later that year. She finished the season in 10th place in Top Fuel championship points in '06. Will picked up an emotional first NHRA national event title in Topeka, Kan., June 1, 2008.

The FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals was the 15th event of the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

-credit: km

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Cory McClenathan , Scott Kalitta , Hillary Will , Ken Black