SONOMA, CA – July 28, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – In what has already been a banner season for Pro Stock Motorcycle points leader Eddie Krawiec, the three-time world champion simply hopes to maintain the status quo for the next nine races.
He has advanced to at least the semifinals of the first seven races of the Pro Stock Motorcycle season, winning three times on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson, delivering a number of standout performances he hopes to replicate during the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
But this weekend’s 29th annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway also serves as an important race for Krawiec, who is not only the defending event winner of the race and the NHRA Pro Bike Battle all-star bonus event that takes place during the event, but also a big fan of the tremendous reception the Pro Stock Motorcycle racers receive in Sonoma.
“For some reason the fans in Sonoma are huge motorcycle enthusiasts,” Krawiec said. “It’s definitely in the top three when it comes to fan participation with motorcycle people. It gives us a good vibe and that’s really cool. Sonoma loves and supports the bikes 100 percent and when you go to Sonoma, you know you’re going to a facility that loves watching you race. It’s definitely great.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Chris McGaha (Pro Stock) were also last year’s winners of an event that will be televised by the FOX national broadcast network for the first time. It is the eighth of 16 events during the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season in Pro Stock Motorcycle, and Krawiec has been impressive from the outset.
He advanced to the finals of the first three events, winning in Gainesville and Atlanta, also posting a win in Norwalk. Krawiec’s chance to repeat his run a year ago of winning in Denver, Sonoma and taking the Pro Bike Battle ended when teammate Andrew Hines topped him last weekend in Denver, but there is still plenty on the line this weekend.
He has the top spot in the Pro Bike Battle, which features eight competitors and will be contested on Saturday. Plus, Krawiec is shooting for his third straight Sonoma victory and fourth overall at a track he has long enjoyed.
“When you go to Sonoma, it’s such a nice, peaceful, laid-back area,” Krawiec said. “It’s really a unique place. Denver and Sonoma are to of my favorite tracks we go to every year, and it’s pretty cool to get to race there during back-to-back weeks.”
Krawiec, though, also has one eye on the upcoming Countdown to the Championship. Only two events follow Sonoma before the six-race playoffs begin and Krawiec wants to be at his best. Of course, he is already performing at a high level with the points lead and the standout performances, but maintaining that strong start over the course of a full year will be a challenge. The improvements needed might not be massive, but Krawiec also knows that he doesn’t want to stand pat, especially with teammate Hines winning the past two races.
“For me, the goal is to go to the Countdown in the top three or four,” Krawiec said. “I think I’ve got a good shot to go in one or two, and that helps set the pace going into the Countdown. We’ve had good momentum all year and it’s hard to keep that rolling for an entire year, but we’re going to try to keep it going. What is happening now is what I need to keep happening this weekend and then through the Countdown.”
Krawiec’s last world championship came in 2012, and he has watched Hines win it the past two years. But facing off with his teammate won’t be his only challenge the rest of the year, or this weekend in Sonoma.
The Pro Stock Motorcycle class is as deep and talented as it has ever been, and Krawiec will also have to deal with the likes of three-time world champion Angelle Sampey, who won earlier this season in Englishtown, Jerry Savoie, two-time world champion Matt Smith, Hector Arana Sr., Chip Ellis, LE Tonglet, Steve Johnson and Michael Ray. But Krawiec insists the focus is going to remain on his own performance and he is not letting any outside distractions get the best of him.
“We just have to stay consistent and continue to make level-headed decisions and calls come race day,” Krawiec said. “We can’t let any outside hype come in and change things up. We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing, keep working hard and stay level-headed with what we’re doing. It’s worked so far this year and we just have to keep at it, and keep pushing forward.”
In Top Fuel, Brown raced to the winner’s circle for his fourth victory of the year in 2015 en route to his second Top Fuel world championship. Brown has three wins and the points lead in 2016, along with four career Sonoma wins, but will have to ward off a host of talented drivers, including Doug Kalitta, who has three victories this season and five in Sonoma. Others to watch include back-to-back 2016 winner Shawn Langdon, two-time 2016 winner Steve Torrence, eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher, who won for the first time in 2016 last weekend in Denver, J.R. Todd, Richie Crampton, Clay Millican, Terry McMillen and Brittany Force, who is also a two-time winner this season.
Funny Car’s Beckman outlasted Tommy Johnson Jr. last year in Sonoma and went on to win two more races in 2015, finishing second to reigning world champion Del Worsham. Beckman picked up his first win of 2016 in Chicago, but everyone is chasing points leader Ron Capps, who has four wins in Sonoma and four victories this year. John Force will look to claim his eighth Sonoma win coming off his win on Sunday in Denver, while others gunning for the win include Courtney Force, two-time 2016 event winner Matt Hagan, Alexis DeJoria, Tim Wilkerson and Robert Hight.
Points leader Jason Line and teammate Greg Anderson, who is in second, have dominated in Pro Stock. Line, a three-time Sonoma winner, has raced to seven victories in 2016 while Anderson, a four-time Sonoma winner, has six. Catching up will be difficult in the redesigned Pro Stock class, which features fuel-injected engines, flat hoods, 10,500 RPM rev-limiters and shortened wheelie-bars. Those looking to knock down Line and Anderson include Chris McGaha, who raced to his first career victory at Sonoma last year, Allen Johnson, who won last weekend in Denver, Drew Skillman, Vincent Nobile, five-time world champ Jeg Coughlin Jr., Bo Butner, surging Shane Gray and two-time and reigning world champ Erica Enders.
The Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where the future stars of the sport earn their racing stripes.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand how the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
As part of NHRA’s ongoing celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Funny Car class, legendary Funny Car drivers Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Ed “The Ace” McCulloch will be honored during pre-race ceremonies.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:30 and 7 p.m. on Friday, July 29, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, July 30, at 1:10 and 5 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 31.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-870-RACE (7223). Tickets also are available online at www.sonomaraceway.com. Kids 12 and under are admitted free on Saturday, July 30, in general admission areas with a paid adult (advance only). For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
TOYOTA NHRA SONOMA NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 29th annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals, the 15th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. The NHRA Lucas Oil Series also will be featured at this event.
WHERE: Sonoma Raceway, Sonoma, Calif. The track is located at the intersection of Highways 37 and 121.
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 15 feet above sea level; Track direction is north to south.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, July 29-31
FRIDAY, July 29 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 4:30 and 7 p.m.
SATURDAY, July 30 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1:10 and 4:15 p.m.
NHRA PRO BIKE BATTLE AT SONOMA RACEWAY at 1, 3 and 4:50 p.m.
SUNDAY, July 31 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Friday, July 29, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 7:30 p.m. (ET).
Saturday, July 30, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 10 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, July 31, FOX will televise three hours of live finals coverage at 4 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS: Antron Brown, Top Fuel; Jack Beckman, Funny Car; Chris McGaha, Pro Stock, Eddie Krawiec, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: John Force, 7, FC; Doug Kalitta, 5, TF; Greg Anderson, 4, PS; Antron Brown, 4, TF; Ron Capps, 4, FC; Darrell Alderman, 3, PS; Warren Johnson, 3, PS; Eddie Krawiec, 3, PSM; Jason Line, 3, PS; Jim Yates, 3, PS.
Top Fuel – 3.707 sec. by Antron Brown, July ‘15; 329.10 mph by Dave Connolly, July ’15.
Funny Car – 3.921 sec. by Jack Beckman, July ‘15; 325.77 mph by Matt Hagan, July ‘15.
Pro Stock – 6.499 sec. by Chris McGaha, July ’15; 213.00 mph by Shane Gray, July ‘15.
PS Motorcycle – 6.785 sec. by Eddie Krawiec, July ’12; 198.79 mph by Hector Arana Jr., July ’15.
Top Fuel – 3.676 sec. by Brittany Force, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.862 sec. and 335.57 mph by Matt Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.
PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.
TICKETS: For tickets call (800) 870-RACE (7223). Tickets may also be purchased online at www.sonomaraceway.com.
GLENDORA, CA — Point standings (top 10) following the 14th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Antron Brown, 1,145; 2. Doug Kalitta, 1,088; 3. Steve Torrence, 982; 4. Brittany Force, 953; 5. Tony Schumacher, 916; 6. Shawn Langdon, 800; 7. J.R. Todd, 799; 8. Clay Millican, 681; 9. Richie Crampton, 660; 10. Leah Pritchett, 553.
1. Ron Capps, 1,120; 2. Courtney Force, 998; 3. Jack Beckman, 976; 4. Matt Hagan, 881; 5. (tie) Robert Hight, 877; Del Worsham, 877; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., 855; 8. John Force, 821; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 793; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 733.
1. Jason Line, 1,548; 2. Greg Anderson, 1,466; 3. Bo Butner, 955; 4. Allen Johnson, 885; 5. Vincent Nobile, 758; 6. Drew Skillman, 753; 7. Chris McGaha, 661; 8. Shane Gray, 658; 9. Jeg Coughlin, 613; 10. Alex Laughlin, 595.
Pro Stock Motorcycle:
1. Eddie Krawiec, 742; 2. Andrew Hines, 633; 3. Angelle Sampey, 534; 4. Jerry Savoie, 500; 5. Chip Ellis, 386; 6. Hector Arana, 375; 7. LE Tonglet, 364; 8. Matt Smith, 290; 9. Steve Johnson, 268; 10. Michael Ray, 262.
Source: National Hot Rod Association