Bob Tasca III raced to the Funny Car qualifying lead Friday at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers at Bristol Dragway.
Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Tennessee native Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) also were qualifying leaders at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Tasca powered his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Shelby Ford Mustang to the qualifying lead with his 4.063-second pass at 310.48 mph during Friday’s second qualifying session at Bristol Dragway. If Tasca holds onto the No. 1 qualifying position through Saturday, it will be his first No. 1 of the season, second consecutive at Bristol, and third of his career.
Bob Tasca III
“I don’t know what it is with Bristol, but I love racing here at Thunder Valley,” Tasca said. “We’ve been looking for that run for the pole here for the last couple of races. Dickie [Venables], Chris [Cunningham], and Marc [Denner] are really working together, getting this car smooth. This thing’s been shaking for the last four or five races, and I couldn’t even see for about 200 feet. When I got back, I said, ‘Fellas, you finally gave me a race car that I can see now, see the groove, and keep the car dead in the center.’ I think it will hold. With the sun out the way, it’s going to be, I think, that .06 is going to be safe for the pole.”
Tasca’s Ford Racing teammate Mike Neff raced his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to the second qualifying position Friday evening with his 4.072-second pass at 310.70 mph, and Jack Beckman race his Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger to the No. 3 position with his 4.077-second pass at 310.12 mph.
Brown set both ends of the Top Fuel track record in his Aaron’s dragster during his second qualifying attempt Friday night under the lights at Bristol Dragway with his 3.814-second pass at 323.12 mph. If Brown remains the qualifying leader through Saturday’s qualifying sessions, it will be his second of the season and 31st of his career.
“It was definitely a great way to get the weekend started,” Brown said. “When we came in here, we saw everybody in front of us starting to throw down. Terry McMillen threw that run out there. Man, he really opened some people’s eyes up, and then we saw some big hitters not make it down, so I saw Mark [Oswald] and Brian [Corradi, crew chiefs] get a little tentative like, ‘You know what, we want to at least go down because we want to try and be in the top half of the field.’ Tony [Schumacher] and the U.S. Army team, they did the same thing. We both just went down there and made some solid runs, and we snuck up there into those Nos. 1 and 2 spots. It feels really good. That was a real good pass for us, and hopefully that will bring us some luck going into Sunday because Lord knows it’s been rough on us the last three races. This would be a great race to break back out again, and it feels good to get that run down. It’s definitely an ego booster, a mind booster, and a team booster.”
Brown’s DSR teammate Tony Schumacher raced his U.S. Army dragster to the No. 2 qualifying spot with his 3.822-second pass at 320.66 mph Friday night. Terry McMillen powered his Amalie Oil/Wolverine Dragster to the third qualifying position with the quickest pass of his career, 3.823 seconds at 315.27 mph.
Local favorite Allen Johnson set a track record in the factory hot rod class when he powered his Mopar Dodge Avenger to the qualifying lead with his 6.623-second pass at 207.75 mph Friday night under the lights at Bristol Dragway. If Johnson holds onto the No. 1 position, it will be his third consecutive at the event.
“It’s just such a blessing to be back here in Bristol with the fans and our employees who support us and get to see what we enjoy all year,” Johnson said. “The Mopar Dodge Avenger is absolutely hitting on all eight cylinders right now. I didn’t even know that this could be our third time qualifying No. 1 at Bristol or that we set a new track record either. Everything we do here at home is just an awesome experience.”
Johnson’s Dodge teammate Vincent Nobile sits third heading into Saturday’s qualifying with his 6.667-second pass at 207.02 mph, and Mike Edwards is second thanks to his 6.641-second pass at 207.27 mph.
Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at noon and 2:30 p.m. Sunday’s eliminations start at 11 a.m.
Veteran Rickie Smith powered his IDG ’12 Camaro to the qualifying lead in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx portion of the event.
Smith’s first qualifying attempt earned him the provisional No. 1 position with a 5.950-second pass, but it was his second qualifying pass, 5.900 seconds at 240.85 mph, that earned him the qualifying lead heading into Saturday. If his time stands through Saturday’s final qualifying session (1:30 p.m.), it would be the first No. 1 position of his career.
Troy Coughlin proved that his win in Englishtown was no fluke; he powered his JEGS.com turbocharged ’68 Camaro to the No. 2 spot with his 5.951-second pass at 251.06 mph. Chip King sits third after a wild second qualifying pass that ended up being the third quickest of the weekend, but after his parachutes failed to deploy, the Strutmasters turbocharged ’69 Daytona ended up in the sand trap. King was not injured in the incident.