The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its second stop on the three-race Western Swing this weekend, Friday through Sunday, July 27 through 29 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California, home of the NHRA Sonoma Nationals. Defending Sonoma winners Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (PSM) will be back in action defending their titles as the NHRA's "regular season" winds down and drivers are scrambling for the 10 spots in the NHRA's "playoffs," the Countdown to the Championship.
Top Fuel - Spencer Massey leads the Don Schumacher Racing assault on the top of the Top Fuel standings, which also includes defending race winner Brown in second place and third-place Tony Schumacher. Brown was the most recent driver to sweep the Western Swing (2009) and is also the most recent Top Fuel winner, taking home the Wally in last weekend's Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Colorado. "It always feels great to go back to a track where you won at the year before," Brown said. "Sonoma has been one of my favorite racetracks on the tour since I started racing Pro Stock Motorcycles there. It's more exciting out there because you have all types of fans that come out, a lot who have followed me from when I was on a Pro Stock Bike to when I moved to Top Fuel."
Funny Car - DSR is also a powerhouse team in the Funny Car division, but has to share the spotlight with John Force Racing; seven of the top 10 spots in the Funny Car standings belong to these two four-car teams, with just one DSR car, that of 2011 Funny Car champ Matt Hagan, sitting outside the top 10. Funny Car is the tightest division at the bottom half of the ladder, with just 128 points separating sixth (Courtney Force) and 11th (Tim Wilkerson). Capps, who has won the last two Sonoma Nationals in Funny Car, hopes to go three-for-three at his home track. "What made those last two wins so special was that I had my family with me in the winner's circle, and they'll be with me again," said Capps. "And it's cool because I grew up near there."
Pro Stock - Anderson sits second in points, behind last weekend's winner Allen Johnson and ahead of teammate Jason Line - all three drivers are separated by just 32 points. Anderson also won in 2007, while Line picked up wins in 2006 and 2009.
Pro Stock Motorcycle - Tonglet sits sixth in points, just 18 points behind Karen Stoffer. Nobody, however, has been able to break the stronghold that Vance and Hines has on the top of the PSM standings, as Ed Krawiec and Andrew Hines sit one-two with seven wins in seven races between them (four for Krawiec and three for Hines).
Sources: "Brown Eager to Build on Past Success as the NHRA Heads to Sonoma," NHRA Media, July 19, 2012
"Popular NHRA Funny Car Driver Ron Capps Excited to be Headed Home to Sonoma," NHRA Media, July 23, 2012
Paula is a long-time auto racing fan who also covers the NHRA for Examiner.com.