Sonoma Raceway is a freak of nature that brings out the absolute best in drag cars. Located 13 feet above sea level and 13 miles from the ocean, its proximity to the Pacific gives the track the equivalent of climate control. Its surface preparation means that friction distills all that horsepower into record runs.
All weekend NHRA race fans have been celebrating the return of Camping World Drag Racing to its home state of California. As the first motorsport event Sonoma Raceway has hosted without attendance restrictions, the fans within the facility were overjoyed to be able to see and share the racing they love with people they share this passion with.
That passion was equally evident in the racers after two days and three fantastic sessions of qualifying. We saw the incumbent Friday night low-qualifiers Brittany Force and Ron Capps survive Saturday’s rounds, while Greg Anderson overcame Matt Hartford and Kyle Koretsky’s timeslips to take the number one slot in the early Saturday session.
Going into the final qualifying session of Saturday afternoon it looked like there was little room for improvement—until Pro Stock Motorcycle took the stage. That’s when Karen Stoffer and Jerry Savoie made their best runs of the weekend, but it was Angie Smith who stole the session.
After missing the Q2 because of an engine that wouldn’t fire at the starting line, Smith returned for the final session with an all-new engine after a 30-minute all-hands on deck motor swap. Stressed and spread thin, she rocked down the lane with a 6.736 and donned her first yellow hat ever with great emotion.
“I tell people there’s no crying in drag racing,” said Smith. But if you watch the top-end interview on Saturday afternoon you will see that tears are sometimes warranted.
Lots of glorious tears.