Following a weekend in the Mile High City, the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series moves from the peaks of Denver to the vineyards of Sonoma, CA.
NHRA’s Western Swing for the Camping World Drag Racing Series is a brutal exercise. Going from the Mile High City of Denver and Bandimere Speedway to near sea level at Sonoma Raceway to Seattle’s Pacific Raceways in the space of three weeks, the Swing puts pressure on teams and drivers to succeed at three grueling circuits in three grueling weeks.
With one leg of this trinity complete, there are only three drivers to have the opportunity to join three-time Top Fuel champion Antron Brown in sweeping the Swing. Since Pro Stock Motorcycle races only the first two legs, Bandimere victor Matt Smith won’t be able to cop the Sweep, but he does have the opportunity to take another win in Sonoma this coming weekend.
Victories by Leah Pruett, Robert Hight and Matt Hartford in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock mean this trio do have the opportunity to sweep. But it’ll be tough for therm. It always is. It’s been 13 years since Brown swept the Swing for a second time, a telling factor in how difficult this can be. That being said, however, with NHRA heading for Sonoma, there are some racers who have a better chance than others to take that sweep.
One in particular who could sweep the Swing is Robert Hight, driver of John Force Racing’s Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS, who earned his fifth victory of this season in Denver. It was at Sonoma five years ago that Hight set the national record for Funny Car of 339.87 mph. That record was made back in the days of laid-back headers and burnt body panels; NHRA clamped down on both and, nowadays, we who watch are subject to only light, occasional burns on the side panels of the Chevrolet, Toyota and Dodge body panels.
Rules and the racing are different in 2022 than they were in 2017, but Hight is still quite the protagonist and racer. This year he and tuners Jimmy Prock and Chris Cunningham have gotten down the track more often than not and, following a near-non0racing situation in 2020 will attempt to win four races in a row at the wine country-adjacent drag strip and earn his 59th career victory in this event’s 34th annual iteration.
As the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series starts its second half of a 22-race season at the Denso Sonoma Nationals, all eyes are on Hight, Prock and Cunningham, and their John Force Racing Chevrolet Camaro SS as they…