(07/29/12) Sonoma Dragway hosted its historic 25th annual NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event this past weekend, July 27th-29th. Sonoma California’s terrific weather and senic backdrop always brings a huge crowd to wine country, and this years race didn’t disappoint!
Sonoma's weather was absolutely beautiful all weekend, and every team wanted to capitalize on it in qualifying! That being said, neither Robert Hight nor Mike Neff was able to get the power down to the ground in the first session. They ran a 4.639 and 5.600, respectively. John Force laid down a clean 4.217 at 294.60 mph. All would be forgotten when Courtney Force made her run down Sonoma Raceway. Courtney’s run not only highlighted the first session of qualifying for John Force Racing, but for the entire Funny Car category! Her Traxxas Mustang ran an amazing 4.083 at 307.16 mph! That pass remained quickest of the field for the duration of the first session, and Courtney received three bonus points towards her Championship run!
The second session produced even better runs, as conditions were nearly perfect in wine country. The only Traxxas John Force Racing driver that had problems getting down the track was John Force. Aside from John's 6.863, the worst team run was a 4.102 by Mike Neff. Robert Hight was second quickest for team Traxxas with his 4.090 at 309.27 mph, but shortly thereafter, Courtney Force stole the show for a second time! The Traxxas Funny Car blew down the track running a 4.052 at 312.71 mph, a career best for Courtney! Even though a few other drivers managed to better Courtney’s time, she still ended up fifth overall and remained the highest qualified Traxxas JFR driver!
Despite having great conditions for the initial qualifying session on Saturday, they still weren’t as good as they were on Friday, which meant moving up in the qualifying ladder would be nearly impossible. John Force and Mike Neff did however make fantastic runs to get the ball rolling. Mike’s 4.140 was only slightly better than that of John Force’s, who ran a 4.168. Courtney Force and Robert Hight made their runs side by side, with Courtney getting the better of Robert as he had issues at the top end. Courtney ran a 4.126 compared to Robert’s 4.262. Both drivers would remain locked in their previous qualifying positions.
In the fourth and final session of qualifying, weather and track conditions had deteriorated quickly as warm air moved into the area. Mike Neff was the only Traxxas John Force Racing driver to make a good pass. He ran a 4.120, which ended up being one of the best in the category for that session. John Force appeared to be on a good run when his Funny Car lost power around the 500’ mark, coasting through with a 4.906. Courtney Force and Robert Hight attacked the track side by side for the second time of the day. Both drivers overpowered the track and neither run would make the highlight reel. As qualifying came to a close at Sonoma, the Traxxas John Force Racing drivers ended up as follows: John Force 13th, Mike Neff 10th, Robert Hight 9th, and Courtney Force 5th!
Shortly after driver introductions concluded, John Force’s racing machine was fired up and John was set to take on Jeff Arend. Both drivers had great reaction times, and both made stellar runs down the track. The difference was that Jeff Arend just barely edged out John at the stripe, 4.110 to a 4.188. Courtney Force and Matt Hagan were the very next pair to run. The Traxxas Mustang flexed its muscles again running a 4.164, but unfortunately for Courtney, Hagan grabbed the win with a 4.105. Mike Neff lost lane choice to Alexis DeJoria, but it wouldn’t matter as Alexis’ 4.132 blew past Neffs tire smoking 5.027. That left only Robert Hight to salvage a victory for Traxxas and John Force Racing in round one. He too lost his lane to Bob Tasca III, but Jimmy Prock, crew chief for Robert, must not have been fazed. Hight’s car ran an incredible 4.093 next to Tasca, who lost grip early on only running a 5.625. Hight would move on to the second round of competition after a brutal round one of competition in Sonoma.
Robert Hight pulled up for round two as the underdog against Cruze Pedregon, the higher qualified of the two drivers. Hight put up a great fight, laying down a 4.150, but came up short to Cruze who ran a 4.110. That loss ended what looked to be such a promising weekend for Traxxas and John Force Racing. The bright side was that Traxxas was able to have Courtney Force swing by the Traxxas zone to sign more autographs, take pictures, and talk about her weekend driving the Traxxas Funny Car. Antron Brown and Johnny Gray managed to win again in Top Fuel and Funny Car. That leaves the final Top Fuel entry into the Traxxas Nitro Shootout open for yet another race!
The second stop on the western swing ended up being a rollercoaster weekend for the entire Traxxas John Force Racing team. Even though all four drivers remain the Top 10 in Funny Car points, they are all definitely looking forward to next week's race at Pacific Raceways, August 3rd-5th. Traxxas was in Sonoma all weekend showcasing the full line of Traxxas vehicles. We had both our dirt Try-Me track and on-road rally track open so that fans could test-drive a Traxxas vehicle of their own. Fans also got to see our professional RC drivers demonstrate the full potential of the Traxxas Slash 4X4 and E-Revo Brushless! If you missed the action you can check out either the Traxxas Racing Facebook or Twitter page. We look forward to seeing you at this weekend’s race in Seattle, the NHRA O’Reilly Northwest Nationals!