Story By: SCOTT SMITH / NHRA – SONOMA, CA – Defending Funny Car event winner Robert Hight kept his impressive pace going at Sonoma Raceway, powering to the No. 1 spot on Friday during the NHRA Sonoma Nationals.
Clay Millican (Top Fuel), Alex Laughlin (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also provisional No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the 15th of 24 races during the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. The event is also the second of three races during the NHRA’s famed Western Swing.
Hight, the current points leader and two-time Sonoma winner, went 3.858-seconds at 334.65 mph in his Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS. If it holds, Hight would rack up his eighth No. 1 qualifier of 2019 and 68th in his career. Shawn Langdon drove to the second spot with a 3.875 at 329.99, and Jack Beckman sits in third after a pass of 3.879 at 333.41.
“You know you’re always in for a treat when you come to Sonoma with the Friday night run,” said Hight, who also set the national speed record at the track in 2017. “It’s not like any other track we go to where the atmospheric conditions change so drastically. You know it’s going to be great conditions and this is a great race track. You just have to hit it right. I’ve attended every national event ever held here, first as a fan coming to the races, just dreaming to get to work on one of these cars, then a crew member and now a driver. I love coming here and it’s very special to me.”
Top Fuel’s Millican put up a season-best blast of 3.698 at 330.96 to go to No. 1 in his Parts Plus/Laris Motorsports dragster. It would be his third No. 1 qualifier of 2019 and 23rd in his career if it holds. Points leader and defending world champ Steve Torrence, who has won eight of the past nine races in the 2019 season, is second with a 3.717 at 325.85, and his father, Billy, is a spot behind in third after going 3.718 at 325.85.
In Pro Stock, Alex Laughlin went 6.520 at 210.80 in his Havoline Chevrolet Camaro to take the No. 1 spot on Friday. If it holds, it would give Laughlin, whose first career race in Pro Stock came at Sonoma in 2015, his second career No. 1 qualifier. Deric Kramer is right behind in second after his 6.523 at 210.93, while defending event winner Jeg Coughlin Jr. went 6.533 at 210.41 to sit third.
Defending Pro Stock Motorcycle world champ Matt Smith went to the top of the class on his Denso/Stockseth/MSR EBR thanks to his run of 6.779 at a track record speed of 200.83. Smith was the only rider to reach the 200 mph on Friday. Jerry Savoie is currently second after going 6.801 at 198.20, and Eddie Krawiec’s 6.838 at 199.85 currently puts him in third.
Qualifying continues Saturday at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals at 1:20 p.m. PT. The first round of the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle begins at 1:15 p.m.