Drag Race Central - NHRA
Tue, 23 Jul 2013, 12:44 PM

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Heading to Wine Country
Courtesy of NHRA Communications

For the 26th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway

SONOMA, Calif. --

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues the grueling three-races-in-three weeks Western Swing with stop number two at scenic Sonoma Raceway for the 26th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals, July 26-28, and racers will be eager to quench their thirst with a victory in glorious wine country.

Make it a family-fun weekend when the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series arrives in Sonoma and take advantage of a special ticket promotion: Children 12 and younger will receive free general admission with a paid adult on Saturday. Fans can also bring an empty 20-oz. Mello Yello® bottle to the Sonoma Raceway box office and SAVE $8 on one adult single day NHRA race ticket, Friday - Sunday.

The NHRA Sonoma Nationals in the heart of Northern California's wine country marks the 15th stop of the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour that crisscrosses the United States. The race will be televised to a nationwide audience on ESPN HD (qualifying, Saturday, 7 p.m. ET) and ESPN2 HD (eliminations, Sunday, 8 p.m. ET).

Last season every track performance record was reset and this year NHRA teams in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will all be looking to make their machines go quicker and faster than ever in hopes of entering Sonoma Raceway's Winner's Circle. Only three races remain after Sonoma in the NHRA Regular Season - at Seattle, Brainerd, Minn. and Indianapolis - before the top 10 fields are set for the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA's six-race playoffs.

Krawiec, Johnson, Brown and Gray
celebrate 2012 win at Sonoma.
Last season, Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Johnny Gray (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) claimed wins at Sonoma. Three of the four - Brown, Johnson and Krawiec - continued to dominate in their respective classes and ultimately earned world championship titles. Now, these three world champs will push it to the limit in hopes of defending their crowns. The action on the track promises to produce some dramatic moments for fans.

In 2013, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series has already been full of drama. In Top Fuel, Al-Anabi Racing driver Shawn Langdon is currently in the No. 1 position in points, but has seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher, a two-time Sonoma winner, lurking in the background. Other challengers include defending world champ Brown, track record holder Spencer Massey and five-time event winner Doug Kalitta, among others.

The 2011 world champion Matt Hagan is back in championship form as the series points leader in the super competitive Funny Car class, but the Virginia cattle rancher has yet to visit Wine Country's Winner's Circle. Other pre-race favorites include seven-time Sonoma winner John Force, 2008 winner Robert Hight, three-time winner Ron Capps, and two-time event winner Cruz Pedregon. A couple of female drivers who are sure to be in the raceday mix are New England Nationals winner Courtney Force, who drives the Traxxas Ford Mustang and Patron Tequila Toyota driver Alexis DeJoria.

Allen Johnson
In Pro Stock, reigning world champ Johnson will be looking to repeat while his new teammate, Jeg Coughlin, returns to the Northern California track in pursuit of his third Sonoma win. Meanwhile Mike Edwards hopes to hold on to his No. 1 spot and bring home his first career win at Sonoma. Former Sonoma champs including Jason Line and Greg Anderson as well as notable young guns Vincent Nobile and Shane Gray and will provide plenty of competition to try to keep Edwards' lead from growing, giving fans plenty of thrilling side-by-side racing in the process.

Series points leader Hector Arana Jr. is a three-time winner this season in Pro Stock Motorcycle, but he will have plenty of challengers in the two-wheel category including defending world champ Eddie Krawiec, two-time event winner Andrew Hines, rising star Scotty Pollacheck, 2009 champ Hector Arana Sr. and recent winners Michael Ray and John Hall.

Set amid the beautiful rolling hills and vineyards just north of San Francisco, Sonoma Raceway is already one of the most popular 'destination' races for NHRA fans from around the country so this year's race - featuring family-fun festivities throughout the weekend, and the annual Eric Medlen Ice Cream Social on Sunday - will truly be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for NHRA fans.

Sonoma Raceway will also host the fan-favorite Sunday morning Starting Line Party featuring many of NHRA's leading ladies. Fans with Starting Line Party passes will have the opportunity to meet some of their favorite drivers, get autographs and celebrate during pre-race festivities down on the starting line. Party packages start at $77 and include a reserved seat, VIP track access pass for pre-race Q&A, track walk and all-day access to Thunder Alley. For more details, contact Sonoma Raceway.

Another unique experience offered to fans during the NHRA Sonoma Nationals is the Don Schumacher Racing Fan Hospitality Package. The DSR Hospitality Package includes a seat in the Main Grandstand for Friday, July 26th, access to DSR hospitality area Friday, a chef prepared meal, DSR driver appearances and autograph opportunities as well as the chance to see how the crew of a Top Fuel dragster or nitro Funny Car tune and rebuild their machines between rounds. Packages are available while supplies last at racesonoma.com/nhra or call 800-870-RACE (7223).

As always, every ticket purchased for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals is a pit pass, which offers an extraordinary look behind the scenes in the world of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Fans also will want to check out NHRA Nitro Alley and the popular NHRA Manufacturers Midway. In addition, fans should definitely plan to visit the Blast on the Grass, a celebration of American muscle cars, which features many classic machines in the popular car show set in turn 11 of the facility.

Mello Yello Series qualifying begins on Friday, July 26 with the first session at 4:15 p.m., followed by another session at 7:15 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, July 27, at 12:15 and 2:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 28.

Adult tickets start as low as $39 and fans are encouraged to buy early and save. To purchase tickets for the 26th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals, please call Sonoma Raceway Box Office at (800) 870-RACE (7223) or visit racesonoma.com.

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