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Blake Alexander returns as a defending champion but with plenty of changes

A lot has changed for native Californian Blake Alexander since he won in Sonoma in 2018
27 Jul 2019
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Feature
Blake Alexander

A lot has changed in the 12 months since Alexander took home the Wally from Sonoma Raceway. His move from Top Fuel to Funny Car is well-documented. The growing pains of starting a Funny Car team have been covered on NHRA.tv, FS1 and on this website extensively. The team, led by Daniel Wilkerson, is in a much better place now than it was when the season started for the Pronto Auto Services squad in Phoenix.

The Ford Mustang Funny Car has made it down the track a little more than 50 percent of the time in its 25 runs and averages an elapsed time of 4.043-seconds. Neither of those marks jump off the page, though its fair to note Alexander has primarily competed in warm-weather races, which will impact average e.t. 

“We’re trying to figure out to make the car run better when it’s hot out and the track isn’t as sexy,” said Alexander. “It’s going well, though. I like everyone that I work with and I feel like we’re qualifying well. We’re qualifying eighth and ninth as a general rule and that was my goal at the beginning of the season. I thought I’d win more rounds, but this is good.” 

“We probably need to be more aggressive, and maybe that sounds stupid, but I think there are times when we’re just trying to get down the track and we back it down too much and end up smoking the tires,” he said. 

The car is moving in the right direction, but the Pronto Auto Services Ford Mustang will have to be on its best behavior for Alexander to become a repeat winner in Sonoma. 

“The win was great, it was a really fun day,” said Alexander. “I appreciate everyone who put in the work and it was a very good day. But everyone is going to keep forgetting about it the more days that pass by, so that means I need to do it again.”

Alexander knows he can win in Sonoma. J.R. Todd won in Sonoma in 2017 in Funny Car, his first year as a driver in the short-wheelbase category. He did that a year after winning the same event in Top Fuel. That’s something Alexander wants to replicate in 2019, but to do so he and crew chief Wilkerson will have to coax the Ford Mustang Funny Car down the track more regularly. 

“Someone ran 3.95 and won here last year, so yeah, I definitely think we can win here,” said Alexander. “These conditions will be a lot better for this car, too.”

He’ll get his chance Sunday. You can catch the action live at 11 a.m Pacific on NHRA.tv.