Greg Anderson is in line to sweep the Western Swing for the second time in his career. Team Torrence can also pick up three-straight wins at this weekend’s Magic Dry NHRA Northwest Nationals. Will they do it? You want answers, and Tricky Tipster has them.
So, last weekend in Sonoma, he didn’t make the final for the first time in ten races. The trophy still went home to Kilgore, Texas, home of the Capco team. At the core, last week’s event changed very little. This is still the best car in the class by a wide margin and that makes them a significant favorite to start another win streak this week.
Perhaps crew chief Mike Kloeber isn’t getting the credit he deserves. Returning to a lead role on an NHRA team for the first time in a decade, he’s got the Parts Plus dragster humming. They’ve qualified No. 1 three times this year and are coming off back-to-back final rounds in Denver and Sonoma. That’s not an easy feat for any team.
How many people even remember that he’s won this race each of the last three seasons and overall, he’s got four wins in six final rounds at Pacific Raceways. The last time he lost a round here was 2015, when he smoked the tires in round one against Shawn Langdon. For what it’s worth, he still won the championship that season.
Advance Auto Parts/Carquest
When Robert Hight ran 334-mph in qualifying in Sonoma, he probably never thought he’d finish the weekend with the second-best speed in the JFR camp. Brittany’s 335 on Sunday is a candidate for the run of the year but with the Countdown approaching, this team should be focused on race-day consistency.
The Mac Tool’s team’s record is solid in Seattle with a win (2014) in four final rounds. This would be a perfect time to snap out of a mini-funk where they haven’t been past the second round since Bristol. For a team that has spent most of the season challenging for the top spot in the points battle, that’s not acceptable.
We’ve seen some crazy stuff from the Scrappers team lately including a tough round one loss at their home event in Sonoma last week. Regardless, this is still a championship caliber effort with the best of everything so it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see them run the table up here.
Here’s another example of a team that deserved a better fate in Sonoma. She made a solid run and came up short against a desperate Austin Prock. Best advice is to move on to the next event, which is a good thing since she reached the final round here last year.
Montana Brands/Rocky Mountain Twist
Crunch time for the Rookie of the Year contender. He’s tied for No. 9 in the points standings with Scott Palmer and Billy Torrence breathing down his neck. Between now and Indy, he’s going to need to turn on a few win lights in order to in the Countdown. Welcome to the big show, kid.
Auto Club Chevy
Last week, he scored career win No. 50 and it was an impressive performance that included a 334-mph qualifying run. Now, he’s just got 99 wins to go to catch his boss. In all seriousness, the Auto Club team reaffirmed their status as the best car in the class last weekend and it will be up to the rest of the class to prove otherwise. Good luck with that.
Tommy Johnson Jr.
Okay, so there won’t be a Western Swing sweep, but there’s not a team in the sport that wouldn’t have happily signed up for a Denver win and semifinal in Sonoma. As a bonus, they’ve clinched their spot in the Countdown to the Championship as if there was ever a doubt about that.
Followed his win in Epping with a runner-up in Sonoma. Even though there was a tough round one loss in Denver sandwiched between them, that represents real progress for the Mopar team. Hard to imagine they won’t get their share of wins down the stretch and during the Countdown.
Bob Tasca III
Sonoma could best be described as a bummer but viewed as a whole, the summer has been great for the Motorcraft team since they are riding an impressive 14-3 streak in elimination rounds since the addition of tuner Mike Neff. They’ve also gone from ninth to fifth in points with a very realistic shot of cracking the top four by Indy.
Hard to tell what’s more impressive; his eight wins at Pacific Raceways, or his 8-2 record in final rounds. Actually, both of those stats are remarkable, and it means that if you want to take out the 16-time champion, you’d better do it early since he doesn’t lose many final rounds here.
Infinite Hero Dodge
Somedays you do everything right and still don't get the desired result. Have to think the Infinite Hero team felt that way after Sonoma, where Beckman cut a great light and ran 3.99 in the quarterfinals and still lost to teammate Hagan. After a loss like that, it’s best to just move on to the next one.
Global Electronic Technologies Toyota
A month or so ago, theses guys were in very real danger of missing the Countdown. They obviously got the message loud and clear. Since Norwalk, they’ve picked up six round wins and they’re clear of 11th place by 168-points, which means they’re all but locked in. They’ve been pretty good lately and there is still room for improvement.
Odd to think the NAPA team hasn’t been to the semifinals since Bristol, but it hasn’t hurt them much in the points standings. It would not be unlike them to spend the summer in test mode in order to prepare for Indy and the Countdown. He’s the defending champ here and has won in two of the last three years so this would be as good a place as any to snap out of it.
Summit Racing Equipment Camaro
Can he do it? Can he really sweep the Western Swing for the second time in his career? Sure, why the heck not. Winning breeds confidence and back-to-back wins in Denver and Sonoma are huge for the KB team. His lights could still use a bit of a tune-up, but they’ve been good enough to get the job done the last two weeks.
Butner Auto Camaro
A -.009 red-light in the Sonoma semifinal was a downer, but the effects were brief since he scored a win in Super Gas the first time he’s ever competed in the 9.90 class. Welcome to the charmed life of Bo Butner, where everything he touches seems to turn to gold. As for the Pro Stock car, he’s just biding his time until the Countdown starts.
We’re sure it bothers him to remain winless this season, but three final rounds in nine events is nothing to sneeze at. Reminder that it is possible to ride a string of runner-up finishes to a Mello Yello championship. That’s not the preferred method of doing it, but it’s possible.
American Ethanol Camaro
The runner-up here a year ago, he’s got a very strong car that should be capable of delivering the goods at any time. Currently sitting No. 6 in points, he could easily move to the top four with a couple of solid showings in the next few races. There’s probably a half-dozen teams that could legitimately win the championship and this is one of them.
Summit Racing Equipment Camaro
Even though teammate Anderson won in Sonoma, this might have been the best car in the KB camp. He’s been maddeningly inconsistent this year, but he appears to be turning the corner. Entirely possible he spoils Anderson’s bid for a Western Swing sweep.
Jeg Coughlin Jr.
Got to figure he had an excellent shot to end Anderson’s Western Swing Sweep bid before an electrical issue cropped up in the second round. Those things happen from time to time. The good news is that he’s only got to wait a week to race in Seattle, where he’s been to four final rounds with a win in 2002.
Total Seal Camaro
Most teams who tackle the Western Swing struggle in Denver and then find their footing in Sonoma. These guys did the opposite although they continue to qualify in the strong half of the field week after week. So basically no, there is no National Dragster cover jinx.
Harlow Sammons Camaro
One would have to think he enjoys racing in Seattle, especially after winning the event in 2015. Sonoma was not a great event for the Harlow Sammons team so they’re probably more than eager to head up the coast in search of a little redemption.