Blake Alexander scored his second career victory to conquer Top Fuel in front of a sellout crowd at the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway, as Robert High, Jeg Coughlin Jr. and LE Tonglet won their respective categories.
Blake Alexander powered to the winner’s circle with a run of 4.004-seconds at 287.41 mph in his Pronto Auto Service Center dragster to take down the most successful driver in Top Fuel history, Tony Schumacher, in the finals. Despite having competed at only six of the 15 events held this season, Alexander now has three final round appearances of which he’s won two.
“We may be a part-time team but we come out to the track trying to win every race, and so far this year we have had a lot of success with that,” Alexander said. “My life has changed this year with how well we have been running, and the opportunity that Bob [Vandergriff] has given me to drive his racecar has been paramount in my career to take me to higher levels.”
Alexander took down Mike Salinas, three-time world champion Antron Brown and Scott Palmer while Schumacher’s third runner-up finish of the season helped vault him into second in the points standings behind leader Steve Torrence.
Schumacher was also one of four Top Fuel competitors to join Torrence by clinching a position in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, as he, Clay Millican, Doug Kalitta and Leah Pritchett fill out the five of the 10 available Top Fuel spots in NHRA’s six-race postseason championship clash.
The defending Funny Car champion Robert Hight used a 3.984 at 319.75 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS to beat Ron Capps in the final round, securing his second win of the season and his second at Sonoma.
“This track is unbelievable, and we were fortunate to have three great days of racing because of these conditions this weekend,” Hight said. “This is the time of year you have to get it together if you want to win a championship, and we know we need to keep clicking before we start off the Countdown.”
Hight qualified 11th and was able to defeat Tim Wilkerson, Bob Tasca III and Tommy Johnson Jr. on his path to victory as he locked in his position in the Countdown playoffs.
Capps, too, is now guaranteed a playoff berth, along with teammate Matt Hagan and Hight’s teammate Courtney Force.
Jeg Coughlin Jr. drove to a 6.532 at 212.16 in his JEGS.com/Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro to defeat Deric Kramer in the final round as he became the second driver in the Pro Stock class with three victories on the year.
“We’ve weathered a few storms over the past few seasons,” said the five-time Pro Stock champion, “but this team is a lot of fun and the fact that we are a threat to win every weekend is a real testament to how far this team has come. We never once felt like we had to back off because of these conditions, and seeing four win lights turn on at this track is an amazing feeling.”
Coughlin Jr. defeated Alex Laughlin, Tanner Gray and No. 1 qualifier Greg Anderson before locking down the win.
Despite falling in the semifinals, Anderson became the first driver in the Pro Stock class to clinch a spot in the Countdown.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
2010 PSM champion LE Tonglet brought home the win with a 6.771sec pass at 198.52 on his Nitro Fish Racing Suzuki to take down points leader Andrew Hines in the final round. The 2010 world champion notched his third consecutive victory at Sonoma Raceway and he now has two wins on the season.
“We got lucky in the first round because I had a terrible light, but once we got that round win we just kept rolling and turning on win lights,” Tonglet said. “We came off the trailer going fast this weekend and that kept going with each round, so that made today a great day.”
Tonglet took down Cory Reed, Joey Gladstone and No. 1 qualifier Eddie Krawiec en route to the victory.
Hines now has four runner-up finishes on the season and is currently at the top of the points table. He, along with Screamin’ Eagle teammate Eddie Krawiec, Tonglet, Hector Arana Jr. and Jerry Savoie are into the Countdown.
Final finish order at Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway
TOP FUEL: 1. Blake Alexander; 2. Tony Schumacher; 3. Doug Kalitta; 4. Scott Palmer; 5. Antron Brown; 6. Bill Litton; 7. Brittany Force; 8. Clay Millican; 9. Richie Crampton; 10. Steve Torrence; 11. Jim Maroney; 12. Terry McMillen; 13. Shawn Reed; 14. Leah Pritchett; 15. Mike Salinas.
Final: Blake Alexander, 4.004 seconds, 287.41 mph def. Tony Schumacher, 4.345 seconds, 219.65 mph
FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight; 2. Ron Capps; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 4. John Force; 5. Jack Beckman; 6. Del Worsham; 7. Matt Hagan; 8. Bob Tasca III; 9. Shawn Langdon; 10. Tim Wilkerson; 11. Jonnie Lindberg; 12. Courtney Force; 13. Cruz Pedregon; 14. Jim Campbell; 15. J.R. Todd; 16. Richard Townsend.
Final: Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.984, 319.75 def. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.077, 296.11.
PRO STOCK: 1. Jeg Coughlin; 2. Deric Kramer; 3. Jason Line; 4. Greg Anderson; 5. Tanner Gray; 6. Erica Enders; 7. Alex Laughlin; 8. Drew Skillman; 9. Vincent Nobile; 10. Chris McGaha; 11. Fernando Cuadra; 12. Steve Graham; 13. Alan Prusiensky; 14. Matt Hartford; 15. Bo Butner; 16. Joey Grose.
Final: Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.532, 212.16 def. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.534, 210.54.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. LE Tonglet; 2. Andrew Hines; 3. Eddie Krawiec; 4. Jim Underdahl; 5. Joey Gladstone; 6. Jerry Savoie; 7. Hector Arana Jr; 8. Matt Smith; 9. Hector Arana; 10. Steve Johnson; 11. Angie Smith; 12. Ryan Oehler; 13. Angelle Sampey; 14. Cory Reed; 15. Karen Stoffer; 16. Scotty Pollacheck.
Final: LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.771, 198.52 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.802, 197.48.
Point standings after 15 of 24 rounds in the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:
TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 1,168*; 2. Tony Schumacher, 1,031*; 3. Clay Millican, 1,025*; 4. Leah Pritchett, 989*; 5. Doug Kalitta, 951*; 6. Antron Brown, 809; 7. Terry McMillen, 728; 8. Brittany Force, 697; 9. Scott Palmer, 617; 10. Richie Crampton, 608.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Courtney Force, 1,197*; 2. Ron Capps, 1,032*; 3. Robert Hight, 1,024*; 4. Matt Hagan, 1,001*; 5. Jack Beckman, 967; 6. J.R. Todd, 863; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., 819; 8. John Force, 807; 9. Shawn Langdon, 680; 10. Bob Tasca III, 656.
PRO STOCK: 1. Greg Anderson, 1,126*; 2. Tanner Gray, 1,031; 3. Erica Enders, 1,023; 4. Vincent Nobile, 979; 5. Jeg Coughlin, 956; 6. Chris McGaha, 907; 7. Drew Skillman, 895; 8. Jason Line, 857; 9. Deric Kramer, 828; 10. Bo Butner, 822.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Hines, 687*; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 651*; 3. LE Tonglet, 609*; 4. Hector Arana Jr, 562*; 5. Jerry Savoie, 534*; 6. Matt Smith, 473; 7. Scotty Pollacheck, 449; 8. Angie Smith, 336; 9. Hector Arana, 321; 10. Angelle Sampey, 320.