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Torrence, Hight, Stanfield, Stoffer Top NHRA Sonoma Nationals
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In the Pro Stock Motorcycle division, it was Karen Stoffer, at far left, defeating Andrew Hines for the event win in Sonoma. Photo By Mike Burghardt

In Top Fuel, Steve Torrence and the “Capco Boys” have been dominating this season and the domination continued at Sonoma, as Torrence collected his seventh event win out of the nine events completed this season. Torrence came in with a new chassis in his Top Fuel dragster, but it took little time before the team had it running as good as the old one. The Capco team qualified second with a 3.710 at 329.67 mph. At the top was Brittany Force with a 3.694 at 329.42 mph. All through qualifying and the first round of eliminations, Force had the car to beat. If she could win in the opening two rounds, she would have a free run into the final round. But, they run the races on the track, not on paper, and nothing is really free. She opened with a first round win over Ron August, 3.703 at 330.72 mph to 4.229 at 212.73 mph. But in her second round match up against Leah Pruett, the bottom fell out. Both cars left the starting line strong and Force was pulling away, when both cars started to lose traction. Pruett recovered first and collected the round win to advance to the final round.

For Torrence it was a little tougher road. He had to make it through Cameron Ferre, Doug Kalitta and Antron Brown to get to the final round. Pruett had auto racing legend, Tony Stewart, on her side and ran a strong 3.726 at 325.43 on her bye run into the final, gaining lane choice over Torrence. It didn’t help her, as adversity only seems to make Torrence stronger and he collected the event win with a 3.757 at 327.98 mph to 3.768 at 323.04 mph. Torrence is one event win from sweeping the Western swing, having now won Denver and Sonoma.

In Funny Car, Ron Capps and his Napa Dodge team captured the pole spot with a 3.897 at 328.78 mph. He met his match against the #4 qualifier, Robert Hight and his AAA of Southern California Chevy Camaro team. Hight took out Capps with a 3.94 at 323.35 mph run, the quickest run of the elimination round. In the final, Hight would square off against Matt Hagan and his MOPAR Dodge Charger. Hagan got away first (0.036 to 0.054), but his 3.91 at 324.44 mph effort was no match for Hight’s 3.971 at 322.50 mph. The win was Hight’s third consecutive victory at Sonoma raceway.

In Pro Stock, there were several upsets that took out odds on winners. Greg Anderson, the current points leader, qualified number one, but was taken out in round two via the holeshot by #5 qualifier, Aaron Stanfield. Erica Enders, last season’s champion and #3 qualifier was taken out the same way by (teammate) Troy Coughlin Jr. in the same round. In the final round, it was Aaron Stanfield against Dallas Glenn. Both drivers left almost together and Stanfield pulled away to 6.557 at 209.56 mph to 6.580 at 207.69 mph win.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Matt Smith, the current points leader and 2020 season champion, set a new national speed record for the class at 205.04 mph. His wife, Angie Smith, qualified #1 with a 6.736 at 203.06 mph effort. It was the first #1 qualifier in her career. But, she found herself done for the day after a round two loss to Cory Reed, 6.830 at 197.88 mph to 7.634 at 129.10 mph. Keeping it in the family, her husband, Matt Smith, also was taken out in the second round by Andrew Hines. It was Karen Stoffer, who quietly, but with strong runs, advanced to the final round to meet up against Andrew Hines. In the final, Stoffer left first (0.044 to 0.047) and pulled away to a 6.798 at 197.36 mph to 6.800 at 200.98 mph victory.

The next event on the NHA Camping World Drag Racing Series is at the famed Pomona Raceway in Pomona, CA.

On a special note: Three-time Top Fuel champion, Steve Torrence and his Crew Chief Bobby Lagana helped my son and I in repairing my son’s flat rear tire (that had picked up a nail), allowing us to get home safely on Sunday, as all the tire shops were closed for the weekend. What other sport could you find one of its super stars ready and willing to assist? 

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Aaron Stanfield was in the winner’s circle at Sonoma, capturing top honors in the Pro Stock category, defeating Dallas Glenn in the final round. Photo By Mike Burghardt