Following recent wins in Charlotte and Richmond, class racers Joe Santangelo and Monty Bogan struck gold for the second time this season with victories at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway. Santangelo earned the Super Stock crown, and Bogan took home the Wally in Stock eliminator. The rest of the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series winners in Bristol included veterans Todd “Bones” Ewing and Ray Sawyer, who won in Super Comp and Super Gas, respectively, and Johnny Brooks, who scored his first NHRA title in Top Sportsman presented by Racing RVs.
Santangelo won the Richmond event at the end of May, and ironically, he was in the Super Stock final against Bogan in Charlotte. In the Bristol final, where he faced off against Division 3 racer and former world champ Ricky Decker, Santangelo used a 10.282 on his 10.27 dial to win by five-thousandths. With the season approaching the halfway point, Santangelo has set himself up for a run at a second Lucas Oil Series championship. In national event competition, he has a nearly perfect scorecard with two wins and a runner-up. On the divisional side, he has competed in just two events and has a quarterfinal and a round-three finish to his credit. [Video]
Following a near-double at the NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, where he posted a win in Super Stock and a runner-up finish in Stock, Bogan returned to the winner’s circle in Bristol, where he claimed the Stock title in his D/SA ’67 Camaro by beating Mike Cotten. Not surprisingly, the final was decided by just a thousandth of a second with Bogan leaving first with a .010 light and turning on the win light with an 11.094 on his 11.10 dial. Cotten, a former AHRA series champ who raced in his first NHRA final in 1984 and has since appeared in six more, was sharp with a .019 light and an 11.173 on his 11.18 prediction. [Video]
Ewing collected his eighth national event Wally and first since 2017 after he beat Ray Miller Jr. in the Super Comp final. Ewing, who has wins in Super Comp, Super Stock, and Top Dragster, got a free pass in the final after Miller broke an engine in the semifinals and was unable to repair the damage. From the start, Ewing had his hands full with a round-one race against Miller’s son, Ray III, the current points leader in Super Comp. Ewing also survived an impossibly close semifinal battle against four-time national event winner Lauren Freer. Ewing gave up a slight lead at the start but won by an 8.922 to 8.928 count in a race decided by .0004-second at the finish line. [Video]
Sawyer, the 2005 NHRA Super Gas champ, celebrated Father’s Day with a present to himself after winning his seventh national event title. Wheeling his ’02 Camaro, Sawyer grabbed a two-hundredths lead against Michelle Furr in the Super Gas final round and held on for a 9.927 to 9.929 victory. Sawyer, who last won a national event at the 2015 Epping race, earned his way into the final with wins against fellow world champ Jim Perry and seven-time Division 1 champ Tom Stalba. Sawyer’s race against Stalba was one of his most competitive with both racers right on the 9.90 index. [Video]
Brooks’ classic ’67 Chevy II attracted a lot of attention from the Bristol fans thanks to its clean lines and show-quality paint, and it also proved to be an effective race car by winning in Top Sportsman presented by Racing RVs. Brooks got a huge head start in the final round against Dylan Stott’s six-second Mustang but was able to hold on for his first NHRA win by running 7.953 on his 7.95 dial. Stott was not far behind with a 6.714 against his 6.69 prediction. Brooks earned a bye in the semi’s but wouldn’t have gotten there if not for key wins against Tyler Caheely and Jackie Robison earlier in the day. [Video]