29th Annual Toyota Sonoma Nationals
July 29-31, 2016
For the middle leg of the Western Swing, Team Litton Racing and the Worsham powered dragster were competing with a different set of variables at significantly lower altitude coming from Denver to the heart of Northern California’s wine country. The Sonoma Raceway is known for its updated racetrack, great weather conditions, and full grandstands. In 2002, the track underwent a $70-million-dollar modernization project that has since yielded impressive performances from competing NHRA athletes from around the globe. Aiding the top-ranked track conditions are the sunny weather conditions, a far cry from the off and on rain delays that started last week’s Mopar Mile-High Nationals. The energy buzzing around from the sold out crowd is contagious. Driver Bill Litton, making his second appearance on the tour in Top Fuel and his fourth pass in competition, feeds off the crowd’s energy as he throws down a run that puts him straight down the middle of the groove in Qualifying Round 1 on Friday.
Litton commented, “That run felt awesome! Chuck, Del, Jeff, James, Cory, Mike, Greg and Mike are continuing to make the hot rod faster and I am feeling more at home in the car with each progressive run.” Litton finishes with a time of 4.045 @ 291.82 mph, a career best time for him that sets a nice tone for the rest of the weekend. Per Litton, “We threw the belt right at the finish line. Probably didn’t slow us down much if any. It is great to have the American Fallen Soldiers Project on our car this weekend.”
Going into day two, Jeff Arend remarks, “Bill did a great job driving yesterday. Now that we have a good baseline on the tune up for that, we are going to step on the car a little bit harder. We are looking for our first 3 second, 300 mph pass today!” As Qualifying Round 3 begins, Driver Litton prepares himself to own up to the expectations set out for him to achieve. Litton does his part to “get in the zone” and the run results in another career quickest pass of 4.026 with a speed of 290.01 mph. He crosses the finish line with a big bang where Team Litton discovers they have massive engine damage with daylight showing through the engine block. The Crew worked diligently to get the fire breathing monster back on the line for Q4 but the damage proved to be catastrophic. Although the set goal isn’t quite reached in Q4, Driver Litton accomplishes his own personal goal to continue to get better with each opportunity he gets behind the Worsham powered Top Fuel Dragster. Litton’s prior run proves strong enough to qualify and Saturday closes out with Team Litton holding the number 14 qualifying spot in the Top Fuel Division, securing them a place in round one of eliminations.
As Sunday kicks off so do the Elimination rounds. Per Jeff Arend, “The track temperature is a little warmer now and we have our sights set to run in the 3’s and 300’s.” This would be a daunting match up for Driver Litton against Doug Kalitta and his Mac Tools Dragster. Kalitta has 5 past wins at Sonoma Raceway which is the most for any Top Fuel driver. Litton making only his second pro start in history is the 90th different driver Kalitta has faced in his career. Litton launches hard from the starting line trailing with a .890 60-foot time, slightly behind Kalitta. Just as Kalitta starts to smoke his tires downtrack, Litton’s car unfortunately develops pressure in the oil pan and a safety sensor shuts the motor down before it could cause explosion #2. “Nitro is called liquid horsepower for a reason,” commented Litton, “We increased it some and struggled with parts damage again. Doug had problems too but ours came earlier in the run.”
When asked for his opinion on the final run, Jeff Arend says, “We were on a better run that time until a safety part shut the car off. The good news is we have a great tune up for next week’s races in Seattle and the bad news is that Kalitta smoked the tires so we probably would’ve had a good chance against him. Overall though the team is getting better and better and Bill is getting better and better so we are looking forward to Seattle.”
Team Litton and the Litton Financial wrapped Worsham Top Fueler will close out the remainder of the Western Swing next week at the 16th race of the season August 5-7 in suburban Seattle for the 29th Annual Protect the Harvest Northwest Nationals. Stay tuned because Team Litton and the “Blue Thunder” Nitro car will be back in action following the end of the Western Swing starting with the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at the Lucas Oil Speedway in Indianapolis August 31st – September 5th! For more details and updates follow our Litton Racing page on Twitter and Facebook and like us on Instagram @teamlittonracing