efending POWERade Series champ Tony Schumacher continued his season-long domination of the Top Fuel class by at Sonoma last In front of a huge crowd to sweep the three-race Western Swing and become the 6th professional class driver to do so.
“It’s been a lot of fun, the last couple of races have just been outstanding,” said Schumacher, who ran a 3.886 at 307.93 in his U.S. Army dragster to defeat local-favorite Hillary Will (Eureka, Calif.) and her KB Racing team’s 3.988 at 306.19 in the final. “Who would not trade places with our car? I love having the bulls-eye on me.”
Other winners at Sonoma Included Robert Hight (Nitro Funny Car), Dave Connolly (Pro Stock) and Matt Guidera (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
Schumacher and tuner Alan Johnson defeated arch-rivals Rod Fuller and tuner Lee Beard in the quarterfinals and at the end of the day clinched the No. 1 seed in Top Fuel and the 20-point automatic lead over the rest of the field it when the Championship points reset after the completion of the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day weekend.
JFR racing's Robert Hight clicked off a 4.163 at 296.50 in his Auto Club Ford Mustang to defeat ex-JFR teammate and privateer Gary Densham in the finals. Densham ran a 4.222 at 289.14 in his Chevy Impala. Hight’s win was the third straight for John Force Racing at Infineon Raceway, a streak that began in 2006 with the late Eric Medlen’s win.
“….This is the third straight year that a JFR Ford has been in the winner’s circle,” Hight said. “I’ve been at every national event contested here, came as a spectator before I became a part of the crew, and I dreamed of the day … that I would just work on a car. To finally get a chance to work on a car and then drive in a car, it’s a dream come true.”
In Pro Stock, late-starter Dave Connolly powered his Charter Communications Chevy Cobalt to a 6.628 at 207.69 to win the final in a narrow holeshot over Jeg Coughlin’s 6.627 at 207.24 in his JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt.
“I definitely had my doubts about this weekend (coming off the disappointing loss at Seattle), but you can only beat this team down so much before we’re going to bounce back,” said Connolly. “I hadn’t drove that well and today I told myself it’s time to remove my head from my rear.”
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Matt Guidera won for the second time this season aboard the Mohegan Sun Buell, earning a holeshot victory with a 7.054 at 185.74 over Andrew Hines’ 7.026 at 187.34 on his Harley-Davidson.
Guidera’s first two career wins came at Reading 2007 and this year at the 2008 Gatornationals. He considered this won near his home in Loomis, Calif. the most cherished.
“This is the best win of my career by far,” he said. “It’s any racer's dream to win in front of the home crowd and that’s what we did today. I’m so glad my family could be here today and to have (team owner) Brian (Bozsum and wife) Linda here,” Guidera said.
The NHRA POWERade Series resumes in two weekends with the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Aug. 7-10 in Brainerd, Minn.