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NHRA Thunders Into Sonoma Wine Country
Richard Townsend.jpg
Oakdale’s Richard Townsend had a great weekend competing in the Funny Car category in Sonoma, as he was able to score his best performances, qualifying 12th. Photo By Mike Burghardt

The Toyota Sonoma Nationals, at the famed “Wine Country” auto racing facility, featured great weather and strong performances. That led to another sellout crowd for the annual event.

Blake Alexander defeated Mike Salinas, Antron Brown and Scott Palmer, to get into the third final round of his young career in the Top Fuel category. In the final, Alexander squared off against Tony Schumacher and the U.S. Army Dragster. Schumacher defeated Shawn Reed, Brittany Force and Doug Kalitta in his march into the final round. In the final, Schumacher got away first (0.081 to 0.157) , but lost traction, allowing Alexander to take his second career event win, 4.004 at 287.41 mph to 4.345 at 219.65 mph.

In Funny Car, Robert Hight and his AAA of Southern California team showed why they are the reigning series champions, as he made only one good run in qualifying (qualified 11th), but had four great runs in eliminations, to take the event title. Hight defeated Ron Capps, and the Napa Auto Parts team, with a 3.98 at 319.75 mph to4.077 at 296.11 mph winning effort. It was Hight’s second event win of the season.

In Pro Stock, Jeg Coughlin left first (0.036 to 0.041) to defeat Dereck Kramer with a 6.532 at 212.16 mph to 6.534 at 210.54 mph, for his third event win of the season. Coughlin is known as one of the best drivers in the class and now that the JEGS/Elite Team has found the competitive performance, more wins are sure to come. In his career, he has five season championships.

Pro Stock Motorcycle now has two riders in the 200 mph club, Hector Arana Jr. and his Lucas Oil Buell (who has five such runs; three at this event) and Eddie Krawiec and his 2018 Harley Davidson Street Rod (one 200 mph pass). But, in the final round, neither of these two riders were involved. Instead, it was Andrew Hines on his Harley squaring off against LE Tonglet and his Suzuki. Tonglet made it three event victories in a row at Sonoma (2016, 2017, 2018), as he defeated Hines, 6.771 at 198.52 mph to 6.802 at 197.48 mph. Tonglet now has two event wins this season in three final round appearances.

Richard Townsend, of Oakdale, had a great weekend in Sonoma. He was able to score his best performances as he qualified 12th with a strong 4.055 at 307.72 mph. It should be noted that Robert Hight, the category winner, qualified 11th with a 4.051 at 318.24 mph (he had three low four-second runs at over 300 mph). The Nitroholic Team from Oakdale is quickly becoming a competitive threat at every event they attend.

The next event on the NHRA schedule is in Seattle this upcoming weekend and the Davis and Townsend Nitroholic team will be ready.