Robert Hight captured the 50th win of his Funny Car career at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals, winning the event for the second-straight year in the process. The driver of the Auto Club Chevy defeated rival Matt Hagan with an overpowering run and a quicker reaction time to earn his fifth Wally of the 2019 season.
"The first time I saw these cars it was John Force and Jim Dunn running and it was just... 'oh my god, these are superheroes,'" said Hight. "Now I get to drive one of these, and I still need to pinch myself sometimes because I get to drive one of these. It really all goes back to the Auto Club who gave me, a nobody, a chance to drive one of these things with no experience."
Hight got off the line first by a hundredth of a second and increased his lead all the way down the strip. He posted a 3.973-second elapsed time, betting the 4.03 of Hagan for his fifth Wally in seven finals. He has held first place since the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in February.
The Jimmy Prock-tuned Auto Club Chevy Camaro defeated Tommy Johnson Jr., the most recent winner on tour, in the semifinals with a 4.011-second pass. That meant the team did not have lane choice in the final round. Hight also beat Blake Alexander en route to the final; as the No. 1 qualifier he received a bye in the first round.
Hagan defeated John Force in the semifinals. Force, who is still chasing his 150th win, encountered problems at the starting line and was unable to make the semifinal pass. That gave Hagan a free pass and he took full advantage, to the tune of a 3.962-second pass. Hagan, who drives the Mopar-backed Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, beat Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman and 2018 world champion J.R. Todd en route to the final.
Cruz Pedregon was unable to make up ground on 10th place racer Tim Wilkerson on race day. He turned on the red light against Johnson, throwing away a 3.995-second pass. Ron Capps also lost in the first round uncharacteristically, falling to Alexander.
The next race on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour is the Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Northwest Nationals in Seattle. It's set to begin on August 2.