The ground-shaking sounds of 10,000-horsepower machines will again take over Father’s Day Weekend at picturesque Bristol Dragway as the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns for the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, June 16-18.
It is the 11th of 24 events during the 2017 season and comes as the third race during a stretch of four straight race weekends. The distinctive sights and sounds at the famed facility have made the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals one of drag racing’s most popular events. The success of the race has also earned Bristol Dragway the reputation of being an ultimate fan destination, providing unique thrills and excitement.
Teams in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock will battle for victories and crucial world championship points as the season approaches the midway point. Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including final eliminations coverage starting at 6:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, June 18.
Langdon’s Top Fuel victory a year ago started a stretch of back-to-back victories for the 2013 world champion. Now driving for Kalitta Motorsports, Langdon, a two-time Bristol winner, will look for his first victory of 2017 as he makes his move into the top 10. To do so, he’ll have to contend with a number of major threats, including back-to-back world champ and current and points leader Antron Brown, three-time 2017 winners Steve Torrence and Leah Pritchett, eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher, whose five Bristol wins are the most for any NHRA driver, , three-time Bristol winner Doug Kalitta and Brittany Force.
Tommy Johnson Jr.
Johnson Jr.’s second career Funny Car win at Bristol in 2016 helped propel him to a career-best second-place finish. He hopes to claim his first career world championship in 2017, much like Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps did a season ago. Capps, a three-time Thunder Valley Nationals winner, is the current points leader winning four straight races as his title defense is off to a fine start. Other Funny Car stars expected to compete for the win include four-time event winner John Force, Christiansburg, Va., native Matt Hagan, who has three wins this season, Englishtown winner Jack Beckman, Robert Hight, two-time Bristol winner Del Worsham and Courtney Force.
In Pro Stock, Line’s second Thunder Valley Nationals win was one of eight during a 2016 season that ended with his third Pro Stock world championship. Line already has one win this season, but the competition has been stout in 2017, with six different drivers claiming wins over the first eight events. They include Line’s longtime teammate Greg Anderson, points leader Bo Butner, rookie Tanner Gray, his father, Shane Gray and Chris McGaha. Other class standouts include two-time world champ ane Epping winner Erica Enders, five-time champ Jeg Coughlin, Allen Johnson and Drew Skillman.
The NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series makes its seventh of 12 stops in the 2017 season in Englishtown. The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, showcasing the future stars of the sport. After Nitro qualifying on Friday, fans can watch the spectacular Douthit Motorsports eye lighting Black Pearl Jet Funny Car. Jet cars are thrust driven propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
Along with the exciting on-track action, the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals will honor first responders with NHRA’s “Salute to First Responders” celebration.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 5 and 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 16 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, June 17, at 1 and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for noon on Sunday, June 18.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call Bristol Dragway at (423) 989-6900. Tickets also are available online at www.bristoldragway.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult.