SONOMA, Calif. (July 30, 2017) – The wine country around Sonoma, Calif., near San Francisco is an outstanding tourist destination even for those who don’t imbibe in alcoholic beverages.
But Sonoma Raceway has not been the best place to visit for Don Schumacher Racing the past two years.
For the first time in 15 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events this year, DSR did not win a nitro title on Sunday in the NHRA Sonoma Nationals. Through the first 14 races, DSR had won 19 of a possible 28 nitro titles.
Last year, DSR also couldn’t find the way to the Sonoma winner’s circle.
But three-time and reigning Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown and the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald advanced it eighth final round and third straight but lost to Top Fuel points leader Steve Torrence and won for the sixth time this year.
“We would have liked to have won here and kept our chances alive to getting the sweep, but getting the runner-up, we can’t hang our heads,” said Brown, who has made eight final round appearances in 15 races this season.
“This week we started off a little rough on Saturday, but we still had a great (fourth) qualifying session. Going into race day today, our Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota boys were steady, smooth and consistent. We just did what we needed to do to win each round.
“In the final, we thought we had to step it up there, but at the hit of the throttle we had an ignition problem where the car was literally not operating on the full ignition system because we had no power. Then it lost a (cylinder) going down the racetrack while Steve (Torrence) and those boys did what they needed to do to win, so hats off to them.”
Brown started this season holding a 20-1 winning advantage over Torrence, but Torrence has won three of their five meetings this year, all the last three have been in a championship round and Torrence has won each time.
The three-week Western Swing concludes next weekend at Seattle.
DSR TOP FUEL DRAGSTERS
Event winner: Steve Torrence (CAPCO Contractors)
No. 1 qualifier: Leah Pritchett (Don Schumacher Racing), 3.669 sec.-track record, 304.80 mph
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota Top Fuel dragster
Crew chiefs: Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald; Assistant: Brad Mason
SUNDAY’S CHAMPIONSHIP ELIMINATIONS
First round: BROWN (3.763, 327.19 mph) def. Troy Buff (redlight)
Second round: BROWN (3.783, 326.24) def. Scott Palmer (3.839, 324.98)
Semifinals: BROWN (3.792, 325.37) def. Terry McMillen (8.547, 92.74)
Final: Steve Torrence (3.784, 329.42) def. BROWN (3.974, 281.83)
Qualified: No. 4
FRIDAY: 5.052, 138.77 mph, (Session 1); 3.705, 329.42, (Session 2)
SATURDAY: 6.306, 108.69, (Session 3); 10.595, 67.97, (Session 4)
SONOMA BY THE NUMBERS
Career best time, speed: 3.667 (2017, Phoenix); 333.16 mph (2017, Topeka)
Last event (July 23), Denver: Qualified: No. 7, won in championship round over teammate Leah Pritchett
A year ago at Sonoma: Qualified No. 2, lost in second round to eventual event winner J.R. Todd
Career at Sonoma: Wins 4 (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015); Runner-up 3 (2004, 2006 2017); Poles 2 (2008, 2015)
2017 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES TOP FUEL STANDINGS
(Official after Sonoma; 15 of 24 events: wins in parenthesis; DSR drivers in CAPS)
- Steve Torrence (6) 1,369 —-
- ANTRON BROWN (3) 1,294 -75
- LEAH PRITCHETT (3) 1,250 -119
- TONY SCHUMACHER (1) 1,008 -361
- Brittany Force (1) 935 -434
- Doug Kalitta 933 -436
- Clay Millican (1) 861 -508
- Terry McMillen 598 -771
- Scott Palmer 575 -794
- Troy Coughlin Jr. 528 -841