SONOMA, Calif. (July 31, 2015) – The first day of qualifying at the 28th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals sent Chris McGaha and the Harlow Sammons Chevrolet Camaro down the quarter-mile dragstrip at an incredible pace. The sea level conditions in Sonoma were a refreshing change of pace from last week’s mile-high thin air in Denver, and team Harlow Sammons made good use of the circumstances to nab the provisional pole on the first day at Sonoma Raceway.
McGaha was No. 3 at the conclusion of the first session on the basis of a swift and serious 6.530-second pass at 211.93 mph in his Harlow Sammons machine. However, those strong numbers were just a prelude to what the McGaha tribe and crew chief Brian “Lump” Self had up their sleeves.
As the sun dipped down, the track temperature and air conditions cooled considerably, and the racing surface was ripe for something spectacular. Sure enough, it was McGaha who blistered the track with a new track record 6.499-second pass at 212.36 mph. With a good grasp on the pole on Friday night, McGaha will be aiming to earn his fourth No. 1 qualifier award of the season and sixth of his career. He just needs to defend his numbers on Saturday through two more qualifying sessions.
“We went up there on the first run a little conservative, just to get down the track,” said McGaha. “It seems like if we don’t make a good run on the first pass of the weekend, we struggle. So we try to get from A to B on the first run, and we were able to do that pretty well today. Then, of course, the conditions in the second session allowed us to step on it a little harder and put up a number that was a little better than we anticipated.”
Although both runs on Saturday are scheduled for the warmer part of the day, McGaha acknowledged that the Friday night session might not necessarily turn out to be the best.
“You never know,” he said. “Mother Nature could bring in a cold front, and if that happens someone could go quicker. It’s hard to say. But today was a good day. This is only my third time racing in Sonoma, and last year this was where we really started to struggle. I had never been fast here before today, but I think we can see now that the potential is there. I’m starting to have a different outlook on this racetrack now.”
CHRIS MCGAHA, HARLOW SAMMONS CHEVROLET CAMARO
FRIDAY: 6.530-second, 211.93 mph (Session 1); 6.499, 212.36 (Session 2)