Brittany Force was fast, faster and fastest (say that three times fast). She broke the track speed record for Funny Car Sunday at Sonoma Raceway in three elimination laps in a row, in addition to the time record in the first lap.
So when there were no records set in the final, it was a little surprising, but she won her first Top Fuel title at Sonoma, so it didn’t matter.
Force beat San Jose native Mike Salinas in the final, beating him in part thanks to a quick reaction time at the start, never falling behind with Force gaining 0.032 seconds on the line. She was one of the four first winners at Sonoma Raceway.
This is Force’s fourth Top Fuel win of the year – linking her for the most part to Salinas this season – and the 15th win of her career. She was impressed by the continuously increasing speed she was able to generate as the rounds went on, which credited her team.
“The best runs we’ve had all weekend, and to do that on race day is difficult,” said Force. “It’s not easy. And we did it. I know we’ve done it before in the past when you came out on race day and we improve and improve. I don’t know if we did it all day .”
The younger Force set a new track speed and time record on the first lap of Top Fuel eliminations in the second race of the day, completing the quarter mile in Sonoma in 3.662 seconds at 336.07 mph, beating Austin Prock .
Force then came back in the quarter-finals, beating Steve Torrence, breaking the speed record again at 336.49 mph, making Torrence 0.053 seconds faster.
And then she did it again to book a spot in the finals: She set another speed record of 337.75 mph to beat Shawn Langdon and set up a showdown with Salinas.
Bob Tasca III defeated Brittany’s father, NHRA legend John Force, to win the Funny Car title.
For Tasca, it was his third appearance in the final in three events. The third time proved the charm. He explained that in the last two weeks, when he was beaten by Robert Hight in both finals in Norwalk, Ohio and Denver, Tasca knew that Hight had the better car. The tables have turned this weekend in Wine Country.
“I don’t think I’ve beaten that man in three years,” Tasca said. “Mentally he had the upper hand in Norwalk and Denver. His car just drove a little better than our car, and we tried it as best we could.
“Here we had the upper hand. And he knew. … they had to come get us. And I think that as a driver you are in a very nice place.”
Ron Capps hadn’t lost in the first round of elimination this season. He then faced the legendary John Force in round 1.
Force started Capps in a toe-to-toe fight to the line, beating him by 0.028 seconds to advance to the quarter-finals. It was Force’s 268th appearance in an NHRA final.
Force advanced to the quarter-finals with an impressive 330.88 mph run, with JR Todd advancing 0.026 seconds, then defeated Alexis DeJoria in the semi-finals to advance to the final against Tasca.
New Englander Tasca defeated Hight, who was looking for his fourth straight win at Sonoma, 0.018 for his spot in the final against the Force. I was Tasca’s third consecutive appearance in the final.
If Brittany and John had both won their finals, it would have been the second time they’d done it, last time in Topeka, Kansas, last year.
In other events, Joey Gladstone won his first National event and first “Wally” trophy, beating Pro Stock Motorcycle’s amazing Eddie Kraweic by having 0.018 seconds faster reaction time at the starting line and beating Kraweic to the line despite that he was 0.001 seconds behind him.
“I’ve been waiting for this day since I was 12 years old,” Gladstone told Fox TV immediately after winning.
Greg Anderson changed bikes after the Pro Stock halves, according to racetrack PA. It wouldn’t matter. Erica Enders took the lead at 0031, and it was enough to beat Anderson after an engine problem at the finish, causing her car to go more than 20 miles per hour slower than Anderson’s final speed. This would have been Anderson’s 100th Pro Stock win. It is Enders’ first win at Sonoma in her 18-year career.
Enders told Gladstone earlier Sunday that it would be his day. She turned out to be right.
“I am honored to share the winner’s circle with him because this is something he will never forget,” she said. “And taking advantage of Sonoma is something I will never forget.”
It was Ender’s sixth win of the year, and she was the best qualifier en route to Sunday eliminations.
Heavy weekend for local
Petaluma-born and defending Super Comp champion Marko Perivolaris failed to defend his crown on Sunday, falling 0.02 seconds to James Glenn in the third round on Saturday. Perivolaris was knocked out by Ron Kelly on the first elimination lap in Super Gas by 0.03 seconds where he “lighted up red” by 0.001 second and it cost him the race.
“The cars went back in the trailers in one piece and that’s always a good weekend when nothing major breaks,” said Perivolaris.
He hasn’t raced as much as usual this year as he focused on the family business. Perivolaris plans to race in August at the Nightfire Nationals in Boise, Idaho, three more NHRA Division 7 events and the NHRA national events in Las Vegas and Pomona. He will also serve on the operations staff for Bracket Racing, LLC in Bristol, Tennessee, and another race in Ohio.
Periolfaris is grateful for the racing he has been able to drive this season. He did advocate for more weekend drag races in Sonoma in addition to the national event.
“I hope for the sake of these local racers and myself and my family that there are more races at Sonoma Raceway than just the national event,” he said. “It is by far, I think, one of the most beautiful facilities in the country. I just hope there are more weekend drag races than just the national event. ”
Both ends of the grandstands at Sonoma Raceway were quite packed on Sunday, but the NHRA didn’t reach its designated sell-out capacity. The NHRA has not released exact turnout figures.