After a one-year absence due to COVID-19 restrictions the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to the heart of wine country at Sonoma Raceway this weekend for the Annual Sonoma Nationals, the ninth of 20 events currently on the 2021 season schedule.
Sonoma is traditionally one of the fastest tracks on the NHRA calendar thanks to an elevation of 14 feet above sea level and is once again the centerpiece race in the NHRA’s traditional three-race Western Swing, which started with the Dodge/SRT Mile-High Nationals in Denver last weekend and will conclude next weekend, July 30-Aug. 1, with the rescheduled Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at Pomona Raceway in Southern California.
Three-time reigning world champion driver Steve Torrence continues to dominate the Top Fuel division. Torrence captured his fifth win of the season in Denver last weekend after laying down a blistering 3.860-second run in the final to seal career win No. 45. He sits sixth on the career Top Fuel wins list which is headed by Tony Schumacher with 85.
Although Torrence has yet to lock down his spot in the Countdown to the Championship, he now holds a commanding 858 to 551 lead in the regular-season points standings over veteran Antron Brown and could clinch his spot this week in Sonoma where he has had mixed results in Sonoma. His lone victory at Sonoma came in 2017 and was he upset there in the 2019 final by his dad Billy Torrence.
The points battle is much closer in Funny Car (FC) where eight drivers are within 200 points of leader Bob Tasca III including second-place John Force, the 16-time FC champion who sits just 50 points back and defending FC champion Matt Hagen, who moved to within 83 points after his victory in Denver last Sunday.
Force, at age 72, continues to be a fan favorite. After his team sat out most of last season due to the pandemic, Force, the NHRA’s all-time wins leader with 153, will be gunning for his ninth victory at Sonoma this weekend.
In Pro Stock, six-time Sonoma winner and four-time champion Greg Anderson comes into the weekend with a solid 648 to 506 points advantage over Erica Enders, who is also on a quest for her fifth Pro Stock championship.
Matt Smith continued his march towards winning a fifth NHRA Camping World Pro Stock Motorcycle championship after topping Eddie Krawiec in the final at Denver for his 29th career win. But don’t count Krawiec, along with his teammate Andrew Hines, out of the hunt. The pair have 10 Pro Stock Motorcycle championships between them and they continue to climb up the standings after missing the first two races of the season while they put together their Vance & Hines Buell program.
In addition to the four Pro categories, over 120 competitors from all over the Western US will be facing off in the seven Sportsman classes including Manteca’s Chris Thode in Top Dragster.
The NHRA Sonoma Nationals will hold one nitro qualifying session on Friday beginning at 8 p.m. and continue with two final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday at noon and 3 p.m. while final eliminations are scheduled to kickoff at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
Sonoma Nationals qualifying will air on FS1 at 11 a.m. Saturday and noon Sunday while final eliminations will be televised starting at 1:00 PM on Sunday.
For Sonoma Raceway ticket information call 800-870-RACE or visit SonomaRaceway.com.