SONOMA — Some things changed, some things stayed the same.
The final rounds of qualifying for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway are in the books and two top spots in two classes stayed the same while two drivers drove their way to the top.
The story of the John Force Racing team remained the same, with Courtney Force (4.045 seconds at 319.22 mph) hanging on to the No. 1 qualifying spot in Funny Car and sister Brittany Force (3.762, 325.53) still in the top position in the Top Fuel class.
Not to be outdone, their father John Force qualified third in Funny Car at 4.070, 313.73.
“I’m definitely excited,” Brittany said of her third No. 1 qualifying spot this season. “To be No. 1, that’s exactly where the Castrol Edge team wants to be. I’m proud of my entire team. They work hard and I’m glad we’re in the No. 1 spot.
“It’s going to be a challenge (Sunday) because our time came in the best conditions when it was cool (Friday night). We won’t have that (Sunday). But I’m still confident that we’ll go some rounds.”
For Courtney, she was just as excited for Brittany to have the sister duo outduel all the men.
“It’s exciting, it’s fun,” she said. “When you look back at the times my Traxxas team has been the No. 1 qualifier, it’s pretty cool that two of those times it’s been with my sister. I’m very proud of her and her Castrol Edge team. She’s done an amazing job.
“For my team, we had a good run in Q2. Obviously it cooled off and it’s a good track for anyone to make a good run on. . . . These guys have shown that they can make a good run in the heat, too. It’s going to be a tough battle (Sunday), but I’m proud of all of JFR. To be the No. 1 qualifier with my sister, it’s very special, especially being out here in Sonoma. . . . Hopefully we’ll have more to celebrate (after Sunday’s finals).”
Doug Kalitta (3.791 324.20), Tony Schumacher (3.793, 323.43), Antron Brown (3.796, 319.60) and Richie Crampton (3.799, 324.05) rounded out the Top 5 in Top Fuel qualifying.
Finishing out the Top 5 in Funny Car qualifying were Cruz Pedregon (4.051, 311.92, John Force, Jack Beckman (4.075, 314.83) and Matt Hagan (4.075, 307.30).
Shane Gray overtook Jason Line to grab the top qualifying spot in Pro Stock, posting a lap of 6.539 seconds at 212.13 mph.
Line’s pass of 6.541 at 211.79 held up for the second spot, while Allen Johnson (6.547, 212.16) was third, Greg Anderson (6.551, 211.93) fourth and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (6.552, 212.03) rounding out the top five.
“I didn’t realize we could speed up like that,” Gray said. “They guys did a great job. . . . It’s cooler than it was (Friday) and we have a tailwind today, so that’s why the speeds are up. It’s always nice to come here. I like it here.”
After being overtaken by Eddie Krawiec in Friday night’s second round, Jerry Savoie rebounded to earn his first-ever overall No. 1 qualifying spot in the Pro Stock Motorcycle, making a pass of 6.810 seconds at 197.86.
Krawiec (6.814, 195.59) wound up second, Andrew Hines (6.818, 195.79) third, Scotty Pollacheck (6.841, 195.85) fourth and John Hall (6.850, 196,13) fifth.
“I feel great,” Savoie said. “It’s a really fast track. For our Suzuki to run a (6).81 is really, really strong. I have to credit Vance and Hines for building a great engine. . . To be (No. 1) of the whole event, it’s exciting. But I’m more excited for the crew guys. They really work hard.”
Part of Saturday’s Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying included the Pro Bike Battle.
Hines faced Pollacheck in the final and came away with the win, claiming the winner’s prize of $25,000.
“That’s a big deal for Vance and Hines and for Harley Davidson. It’s been a while since we’ve had a specialty even in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class. . . . Unfortunately I don’t know where (the money) goes. The guys in the front of the shop count the money. But our crew will get a kickback from it. That’s part of the deal.”