Race No. 2 of the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ Western Swing is the NHRA Sonoma Nationals, taking place Friday through Sunday, July 31-August 2 at Sonoma Raceway in California. All four NHRA pro categories – Top Fuel Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – will be competing at Sonoma as teams prepare for the 2015 Countdown to the Championship. Khalid alBalooshi (Top Fuel), Courtney Force (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the defending race winners at Sonoma.
Courtney Force is in an unfamiliar spot right now, fighting to get into the Funny Car top 10 before the NHRA Countdown to the Championship begins in a few weeks. She’s only 23 points out of the 10th spot right now, and a good run at Sonoma can boost her to the qualifying spot.
“We have had success on this track in the past, picking up my fifth career win here last year,” said Force. “This was a huge win for myself and my team and I’m hoping we can get defend our title, and get back on our feet at this race track. My team has made some huge strides since the start of the season, but now it’s about getting ourselves in the right position, learning from mistakes and putting them in the past. We are motivated for this weekend, and my team has given me a great car lately, but now we need to focus on going rounds. I do think we will get back on track because I have a great team behind me and we are keeping each other positive and excited for the rest of the season.”
Shawn Langdon has slipped to eighth in Top Fuel points, but he, too, is a former winner at Sonoma, winning in 2013. His Alan Johnson Racing team has had much luck not only at Sonoma but also at California’s other drag strip in Pomona; the team has won six of the last seven Top Fuel events in California.
“Its’ always cool going back to Sonoma; we’ve had a lot of success there,” said Langdon. “Sonoma Raceway is one of the nicest facilities we go to, and it’s always nice to be up there in wine country. I always enjoy racing there because I grew up racing Super Comp at Sonoma, and I always have a lot of friends and family there. If the weather is nice, hopefully we can get back to racing in the 3.70s and over 320 mph; that will be fun for everyone.”
Five-time Pro Stock champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. returns to the ranks for the first of three races with Elite Motorsports. He’ll be teaming up with defending Pro Stock champ Erica Enders, giving the team the last two Pro Stock champs.
“As a competitor, no matter what I’m doing, I’m striving to do well or win or achieve whatever the goal is at hand,” said Coughlin Jr. “Returning back to the seat with a team like Elite and a teammate like Erica gives me a lot of confidence that I’ll be able to hop in and have a car that’s capable of running up close to the top, if not the top spot. I’ve been doing a lot of bracket racing this year, and I’m looking forward to getting out and applying that and making some good Pro Stock runs.”
Qualifying for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals begins on Friday with two sessions at 4:15 and 6:45 p.m. PT, and concludes on Saturday with sessions at 1:10 and 4:15 p.m. PT. Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. PT on Sunday. Keep up with the action at www.nhra.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by John Force Racing, Alan Johnson Racing and the NHRA.