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Blake Alexander Leads the Pro Ranks on 2nd Stop on NHRA Western Swing | Presented by Nitto Tire

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Text and Photos Courtesy of NHRA/National Dragster

California native Blake Alexander brought home the second Top Fuel victory of his career in front of a sellout crowd at the 31st annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway.

Robert Hight (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also winners in their respective categories at the 15th of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

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 winningest driver in Top Fuel history, Tony Schumacher, in the finals. Despite having competed at only six events on the season, Alexander now has three final round appearances as he is now one of four Top Fuel competitors with multiple wins on the year.

“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 as he continues to make a bid to qualify for the Countdown to the Championship.

Schumacher’s third runner-up finish of the season helped vault him into second in the points standings as he continues to close the gap on points 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 first half of the 10 available Top Fuel spots in NHRA’s six-race postseason championship clash.

The defending Funny Car world champion Hight used a 3.984 at 319.75 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS to beat Ron Capps in the finals. He secured his second win of the season and the second of his career in 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 to the Championship.”

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 now has two runner-ups in his three final rounds on the year, as he and teammate Matt Hagan each joined Courtney Force by locking in their spot in the 2018 Countdown.

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. The five-time world champion secured his third career win in Sonoma and first since 2010.

“We’ve weathered a few storms over the past few seasons, 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,” Coughlin Jr. said. “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.

Tonglet brought home the win in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class after a 6.771 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 as 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 as the current points leader will look for his first win in 2018 when Pro Stock Motorcycle returns to the circuit in Brainerd.

Five competitors in Pro Stock Motorcycle have now clinched a spot in the Coutndown, as Hines, Krawiec, Tonglet, Hector Arana Jr. and Jerry Savoie have locked-in their postseason berths.

The 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues at Pacific Raceways in Seattle, Washington from August 3-5.

SONOMA, Calif. — Final finish order (1-16) at the 31st annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway. The race is the 15th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

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.

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.

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.

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.

SONOMA, Calif. — Sunday’s final results from the 31st annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway. The race is the 15th of 24 in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel — Blake Alexander, 4.004 seconds, 287.41 mph def. Tony Schumacher, 4.345 seconds, 219.65 mph.

Funny Car — Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.984, 319.75 def. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.077, 296.11.

Pro Stock — Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.532, 212.16 def. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.534, 210.54.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.771, 198.52 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.802, 197.48.

Super Stock — Don Keen, Ford Mustang, 10.315, 127.86 def. Mark Kirby, Plymouth Duster, 10.242, 126.07.

Stock Eliminator — Leo Glasbrenner, Pontiac Firebird, 10.595, 120.23 def. Jody Lang, Chevy Malibu, 12.224, 97.68.

Super Comp — Robert Naber, Dragster, 8.911, 177.84 def. Matt Woodard, Dragster, 8.920, 175.43.

Super Gas — Matt Blodgett, Chevy Nova, 9.908, 141.50 def. Ron Mackenzie, Chevy Corvette, Foul – Red Light.

Top Dragster presented by RacingRVs.com — John Richardson, Dragster, 28.098, 192.66 def. Andy Spiegel, Dragster, Foul – Red Light.

Top Sportsman presented by RacingRVs.com — Ken Ratzloff, Studebaker, 7.230, 191.35 def. Ted Kellner, Pontiac Firebird, 7.314, 187.29.

SONOMA, Calif. — Final round-by-round results from the 31st annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway, the 15th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

TOP FUEL:

ROUND ONE — Blake Alexander, 3.774, 330.15 def. Mike Salinas, Foul – Centerline; Clay Millican, 3.697, 332.75 was unopposed; Bill Litton, 4.169, 219.76 def. Leah Pritchett, Foul – Red Light; Antron Brown, 3.786, 326.87 def. Jim Maroney, 3.879, 302.96; Tony Schumacher, 3.743, 330.88 def. Shawn Reed, 4.776, 157.04; Brittany Force, 3.759, 329.91 def. Richie Crampton, 3.766, 325.14; Scott Palmer, 3.798, 329.34 def. Terry McMillen, 4.726, 133.46; Doug Kalitta, 3.746, 332.26 def. Steve Torrence, Foul – Red Light;

QUARTERFINALS — Alexander, 3.791, 330.23 def. Brown, 3.822, 317.72; Kalitta, 3.772, 329.50 def. Millican, 5.111, 147.79; Schumacher, 4.375, 192.71 def. Force, 4.985, 144.77; Palmer, 3.811, 325.92 def. Litton, 4.163, 231.68;

SEMIFINALS — Alexander, 3.878, 313.15 def. Palmer, 7.634, 106.52; Schumacher, 3.836, 317.42 def. Kalitta, 3.837, 274.44;

FINAL — Alexander, 4.004, 287.41 def. Schumacher, 4.345, 219.65.

FUNNY CAR:

ROUND ONE — Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.995, 318.99 def. Richard Townsend, Toyota Camry, 10.192, 85.25; Del Worsham, Camry, 3.983, 325.22 def. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.091, 300.00; Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.973, 320.58 def. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.242, 225.18; Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.004, 317.27 def. Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 4.022, 317.79; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.958, 320.89 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.115, 310.13; Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.974, 322.65 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.010, 321.96; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.012, 321.58 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.103, 306.40; John Force, Camaro, 4.026, 323.12 def. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.000, 321.27;

QUARTERFINALS — Hight, 4.010, 317.19 def. Tasca III, 12.467, 67.36; Capps, 3.969, 322.65 def. Hagan, 4.512, 190.59; Johnson Jr., 4.016, 323.35 def. Beckman, 4.013, 314.83; J. Force, 4.069, 316.75 def. Worsham, 4.080, 268.87;

SEMIFINALS — Hight, 3.956, 322.04 def. Johnson Jr., 3.990, 323.81; Capps, 4.000, 321.04 def. J. Force, 4.081, 321.42;

FINAL — Hight, 3.984, 319.75 def. Capps, 4.077, 296.11.

PRO STOCK:

ROUND ONE — Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.532, 211.79 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.560, 211.49; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.530, 211.56 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 7.155, 146.35; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.509, 211.79 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.553, 210.73; Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.537, 211.86 def. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.582, 208.97; Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.506, 211.16 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, Foul – Red Light; Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.558, 210.18 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 8.274, 110.94; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.528, 211.49 def. Joey Grose, Camaro, 18.077, 43.99; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.505, 211.96 def. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.620, 209.62;

QUARTERFINALS — Coughlin, 6.534, 211.43 def. Laughlin, 6.563, 210.28; Anderson, 6.534, 211.36 def. Skillman, 6.585, 211.33; Kramer, 6.523, 211.39 def. Gray, 6.532, 211.46; Line, 6.538, 211.10 def. Enders, 6.547, 211.96;

SEMIFINALS — Coughlin, 6.548, 211.13 def. Anderson, 6.554, 212.43; Kramer, 6.525, 211.10 def. Line, 6.551, 211.26;

FINAL — Coughlin, 6.532, 212.16 def. Kramer, 6.534, 210.54.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:

ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.856, 194.91 def. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.853, 196.96; Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.863, 196.82 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.892, 194.46; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.778, 198.47 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 7.305, 145.89; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.806, 197.48 def. Cory Reed, Buell, 6.914, 196.73; Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.814, 195.45 def. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.896, 194.46; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.832, 200.35 def. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.906, 196.90; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.846, 199.05 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.952, 193.90; Matt Smith, 6.803, 196.90 def. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.901, 195.90;

QUARTERFINALS — Krawiec, 6.771, 200.08 def. Savoie, 6.876, 196.19; Underdahl, 7.004, 173.90 def. Arana Jr, 9.242, 96.10; Tonglet, 6.803, 198.32 def. Gladstone, 6.853, 194.72; Hines, 6.798, 197.94 def. M. Smith, 12.443, 64.66;

SEMIFINALS — Hines, 6.820, 197.57 def. Underdahl, 6.907, 195.59; Tonglet, 6.796, 198.09 def. Krawiec, 6.769, 198.93;

FINAL — Tonglet, 6.771, 198.52 def. Hines, 6.802, 197.48.

SONOMA, Calif. — Point standings (top 10) following the 31st annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway, the 15th of 24 events in the 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.

 


Mike Galimi
Mike Galimi is the Director of Content & Marketing at ProMedia Publishing and Events with nearly 20 years of experience in motorsport writing and photography.
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