Mike Salinas will take the Top Fuel points lead with him to the Sonoma Nationals. (NHRA photo)

Famed NHRA Western Swing Heads To Wine Country

SONOMA, Calif. — The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series is set to deliver an incredible weekend of 11,000-horsepower, 330-mph action on July 22-24 at Sonoma Raceway during the 34th annual Denso NHRA Sonoma Nationals.

It is the 12th of 22 races of this season, marking the second stop in the famed three-race NHRA Western Swing and kicking off the second half of the year. Winners from Denver will look to keep rolling with a victory in Sonoma and potentially sweep the Western Swing with a win the following weekend in Seattle.

The annual stop in Sonoma has always been a marquee race for drivers and fans who love the picturesque setting in the heart of Northern California’s wine country, as well as the incredible race conditions that have led to historical NHRA milestones over the years.

This year promises to be just as thrilling, with nitro qualifying under the lights on Friday, two rounds of qualifying on Saturday and eliminations on Sunday at one of the fastest tracks on the NHRA circuit.

Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) and Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle) won last year’s event.

Torrence was one of three winners a year ago who picked up their first Sonoma victory, as he slipped past Leah Pruett in a thrilling final round. The Texan cruised to his fourth straight world championship shortly after.

Now, he’s looking for his first victory of the Top Fuel season.

Standing in his way is a plethora of talented drivers, including points leader Mike Salinas, Brittany Force, Tony Schumacher, Doug Kalitta, Justin Ashley, Josh Hart, Clay Millican, Antron Brown and Austin Prock.
In Funny Car, Robert Hight has dominated Sonoma Raceway in recent years, winning the last three races at the scenic track. He’ll look to make it four in a row – something no driver has ever done in Sonoma – and extend his points lead in the process, but it won’t be easy against a loaded field.

The star-studded lineup also features defending world champ Ron Capps, John Force, Matt Hagan, J.R. Todd, Tim Wilkerson, Cruz Pedregon, Alexis DeJoria and Bob Tasca III.

Pro Stock’s Aaron Stanfield drove to the win a year ago, capping off his hot summer stretch with his first Sonoma win.

He’s picked up a pair of wins this year to strengthen his championship contender status, but this season has belonged to his teammate, points leader Erica Enders. She has won five times already this year and will look to win in Sonoma for the first time as she aims for a fifth world championship.

Top drivers to watch include six-time Sonoma winner Greg Anderson, Kyle Koretsky, Mason McGaha, rookie Camrie Caruso and Chris McGaha.

Karen Stoffer picked up her first victory at Sonoma Raceway a year ago and she’s been just as impressive this season. She made the quickest run in class history en route to her Gatornationals win and Stoffer will look for back-to-back victories in wine country.

But trying to stop her are a host of talented riders in the two-wheeled category, including points leader Steve Johnson,  Matt Smith, Angelle Sampey, Eddie Krawiec, Angie Smith, Jerry Savoie, Jimmy Underdahl and Joey Gladstone.

The event also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, which includes some of the sport’s top drivers, as well as Top the Cops, Jr. Dragster and Street Legal exhibition runs.