SONOMA, CA – July 23, 2022 – (Motor Sports NewsWire) – A week after winning in Denver, Top Fuel star Leah Pruett kept rolling on Friday in Sonoma, powering to the provisional No. 1 spot for Tony Stewart Racing at the 34th annual Denso NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway.
Robert Hight (Funny Car), Troy Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also the provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the 12th of 22 races during the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season. It is also the second event in the three-race NHRA Western Swing.
Pruett went 3.689-seconds at 327.59 mph in her 11,000-horsepower Rayce Rudeen Foundation Top Fuel dragster during the lone qualifying session, putting her on track to qualify No. 1 for the first time this season and the 12th time in her career. It also puts the team on a great path following their Denver win, which only further bolstered the overall desire to add another victory.
“What was most important to this team was starting off in Q1 in a different fashion than we have in the last handful of races,” said Pruett, who was the runner-up in Sonoma last season. “We considered it a little bit conservative, but it gives us a really solid look into our tuning window. The win in Denver was so big for us because it showed us where we needed to improve to do it again and that’s what we’ve prepared for this week.”
Doug Kalitta was the only other driver in the 3.60s on Friday, going 3.694 at 331.45, while Steve Torrence, the defending event winner, took the third spot after his 3.710 at 326.08.
Robert Hight continued his dominant run in Sonoma in Funny Car, making his quickest pass in five years with a stellar pass of 3.825 at 332.75 in his 11,000-horsepower Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS. Hight, who is the points leader on the strength of five wins in 2022, has won three straight years at Sonoma and will now try to become the first driver in NHRA history to win four consecutive times. After Friday’s incredible run, he couldn’t have asked for a better start.
“You have to have a gameplan when you come into one of these races. You can’t think of the end result,” Hight said. “You have to go one round at a time and it’s a job well done for this team tonight. We saw what was out there and (crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) and Chris (Cunningham) have a really good handle on this tune-up. I was impressed. When it left the starting line, it really wanted to go right on me. This thing…