2015 NHRA SONOMA NATIONALS
Stellar Conditions make for Record Performance at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals
By Mike Burghardt
Race Day Tony Schumacher vs Brittany Force Round One
Sonoma, Ca The 28th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals benefited from some unexpected “optimal weather” conditions, that allowed for stellar on track performances. Each of the four professional categories, Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Bike saw near record performances. But the Funny Car category had the fans on their feet, as Jack Beckman in his Infinite Heroes/Don Schumacher Racing Dodge Charger grabbed the number one qualifier position during the Friday night qualifying session, with quickest run ever in the class at 3.921 seconds at 323.43 mph. Then, he backed that time up with a stellar 3.958 second run in the final qualifying session on Saturday. Beckman’s performances carried throughout final eliminations on Sunday, as he never ran slower than 4.037 seconds, as he marched in to a final round match up against Tommy Johnson Jr. He then used another 4.037 at 310.63 mph to take the win over Johnson’s 4.073 at 308.99 mph for his 5th national event win of the season. Beckman credited is performance to his crew chief, Jimmy Prock, assisted by John Medlen (from Oakdale) and Chris Cunningham. This was his second consecutive event win, a he recently won at Denver. He now has wins at two of the three prestigious “Western Swing” races and looks to complete the “sweep” at the upcoming event in Seattle, Washington.
Jack Beckman vs Tony Pedregon
In Top Fuel, it was all Antron Brown from Don Schumacher Racing in his MATCO Tools Dragster, as he captured the pole position with a track record 3.707 second run at 326.95 mph (the national record is held by Antron Brown at 3.701 seconds) and marched his way into the final round of eliminations by taking out Steve Chrisman (California Gear Dragster), Richie Crampton (Lucas Oil Dragster), and Tony Schumacher (US Army Dragster) to meet up against Dave Connolly (C&J Energy Dragster). Brown left no doubt who was king of the class on this day, as he left on Connolly (0.044 to 0.060 reaction time advantage) and drove away with a 3.787 at 320.74 mph to 3.808 at 319.14 mph victory. It was his 4th win of the season and 4th win in 7-years at this track and it represented the 50th time that Don Schumacher Racing has “swept” the nitro categories at an NHRA national event, by winning in both Top Fuel and Funny Car at the same event.
#1 Qualifier Chris McGaha vs Jason Line in Round 4 Qualifying
In Pro Stock, performances also were stellar a Chris McGaha set a new track elapse time record of 6.499 seconds, while Shane Gray set a new track speed record of 213.00 mph. McGaha advanced to the final round of eliminations by taking out V. Gaines, 2014 NHRA Pro Stock Champion Erica Enders-Stevens and 5-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin jr. Jonathan Gray marched from his #7 qualifying position into the final round by taking out Deric Kramer, 4-time NHRA Pro Stock Champion Greg Anderson and 2-time NHRA Pro Stock Champion Jason Line. In the final, Gray left first (0.016 to 0.024 reaction time), but could not hold of McGaha, who took the win with 6.531 at 212.13 mph 6.560 at 211.03 mph winning effort, for his first career NHRA Pro Stock event victory.
Number One Qualifier Eddie Krawiec
In Pro Stock Bike, Eddie Krawiec “doubled up”, he not only won the “race within a race” Pro Bike Battle but also took home the event win. Krawiec qualified his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley Davidson at the top of the field with a strong 6.787 at 196.99 mph, took the final round win over Jerry Savoie with a 6.881 at 191.00 mph to 6.891 at 194.13 mph effort. It was Krawiec’s second consecutive win at Sonoma, as he also won in 2014.
This marked the first time in NHRA history that the number one qualifier in all contested professional categories reached the final round and won at the same event.
The next event on the NHRA Mello Yellow drag racing series is next weekend for NHRA Northwest Nationals in Kent, Washington
Story photos by: Randy Jones
Gallery by Jeff Burghardt and Mike Burghardt