NorCal Racing

Part-timer Blake Alexander pulls a Top Fuel stunner at Sonoma

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Blake Alexander isn’t running even a full schedule in the NHRA’s Top Fuel class. On Sunday, he took down a giant in the sport.

He upset Tony Schumacher in the Top Fuel final in front of a sellout crowd at the 31st annual Toyota Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway.

Alexander, 29, has taken part in just six races, but he has won twice and made the finals three times. He stands 12th in the standings, so he’s just two spots shy of the Countdown to the Championship.

He beat Mike Salinas, three-time champion Antron Brown and Scott Palmer in eliminations. Salinas, a San Jose resident, nearly wrecked with Alexander on the first race of the day. Salinas’ car crossed the mid-line well into the race and nearly clipped Alexander, who luckily was running quicker.

Schumacher beat him off the start, but Alexander finished in 4.004 at 287.41 mph. Schumacher hit 4.345 and 219.65. Schumacher had a reaction time of .081 to .157 for Alexander.

“When you win, it erases all that,” Alexander said. “I have this trophy.”

In the Funny Car class, Robert Hight didn’t match the national record of 339.87 mph he set in qualifying at Sonoma Raceway last year, but he’s not complaining.

The John Force Racing driver beat Ron Capps in the final to collect his 43rd career win, tying him for third place in Funny Car history.

Hight had an elapsed time of 3.984 at 319.75 mph. Capps finished in 4.077 at 296.11 mph.

“This is the time of year you have to get it together,” Hight said, referring to the approaching Countdown to the Championship.

After qualifying in only the 11th spot, he beat Tim Wilkerson, Bob Tasca III and Tommy Johnson Jr. in eliminations.

Cooler than usual temperatures made for improved traction and fast racing. “It can be real hot here, but we had three good days of racing,” Hight said.

The win left Hight third in the Funny Car standings behind teammate Courtney Force and Capps.

LE Tonglet, a firefighter from Metairie, La., beat season points leader Andrew Hines in the Pro Stock Motorcycle finals, hitting the finish in 6.771 at 198.52 mph. It was Tonglet’s fourth win at Sonoma and third straight.

In Pro Stock, Jeg Coughlin Jr. edged Deric Kramer by 2 thousandths of a second. Coughlin ran 6.532 (212.16 mph) to Kramer’s 6.534. Coughlin, who beat series leader Greg Anderson in the semifinals, collected his third event win of the season.

Briefly: No. 2 Top Fuel qualifier Leah Pritchett misfired at the start and lost in the first round to Bill Litton. … Top Funny Car qualifier Courtney Force lost in the first round to Del Worsham. Moments later, 2017 Sonoma winner J.R. Todd was eliminated by Jack Beckman. … In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Hector Arana Jr. set a track record of 200.11 mph in the first round. It was his sixth plus-200 mph run of his career. Until Krawiec went 200.08 in the quarterfinals, no other cyclist had reached 200. … Longtime Sonoma Raceway drag-racing manager Georgia Seipel was inducted into the raceway’s Wall of Fame.

Tom FitzGerald is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: tfitzgerald@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @tomgfitzgerald




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