Friday’s singled pro qualifying round at the Thunder Valley Nationals could best be described as a ‘getting to know you” run as teams made their first runs on the newly ground Bristol Dragway track surface. Some found the sweet spot. Others did not.
Today, racers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle will have two more runs to refine their combinations ahead of Sunday’s final eliminations. The four Friday leaders; Steve Torrence, Robert Hight, Greg Anderson and Angelle Sampey all had one thing in common. None of them believe their Friday performances will be quick enough to survive Saturday’s two runs.
Just five cars found the three-second zone in qualifying including Torrence who leads the field with a 3.791 from his Capco Contractors dragster. Much has been made of Torrence going winless through the first eight races of the season but the four-time world champ isn’t the least bit worried. He knows he still has one of the best cars in the field.
Josh Hart, Antron Brown, Clay Millican, Spencer Massey, and Brittany Force also ran in the threes but none of them were overly satisfied with their performance, especially Force, who wounded an engine and slowed to a 3.900.
Those who did not make it down the track included Mike Salinas, who is coming off a convincing win in Epping and it the No. 2 ranked driver in the class behind Force.
Hight has been arguably the most consistent driver in the Funny Car class this season and he showed it on Friday with a 3.971, the only three second run of the session. Hight quickly acknowledged that his run was not good enough to hold the pole and predicted that it would take a run in the 3.8s or low 3.9s to seal the top spot.
Everyone else in the Funny Car class, including points leaders Matt Hagan, Ron Capps, John Force, Cruz Pedregon, and Bob Tasca III, will attempt to take what they’ve learned on Friday and convert that data into an improved performance on Saturday.
With a 6.686, Greg Anderson has a lead of nearly two-hundredths on the rest of the field, which is enormous in Pro Stock terms. Anderson also knows that he’s not safe at the top, but figures that he can make a significant improvement today.
Those chasing Anderson include Aaron Stanfield, Kyle Koretsky, Matt Hartford, Deric Kramer, and Bo Butner. The ony name missing from the top of the leaderboard is Erica Enders, who has won four of the first six races this season. Enders is currently No. 10 with a 6.733, and her Melling/Elite Camaro is clearly capable of more.
There are 20 Pro Stock cars attempting to qualify for just 16 spots so there will be a fierce battle to see who gets to race on Sunday and who goes home.
Sampey, the winner of the last Bristol event last October, is the provisional leader in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class with a 6.966 on her Vance & Hines/Mission Foods Suzuki. Sampey is just a couple thousandths of a second ahead of her teammate, Eddie Krawiec, who ran 6.988.
The Pro Stock Motorcycle class includes a first-time rider in Malcolm Phillips as well as LE Tonglet, who is riding Kelly Clontz’s Suzuki while she takes the next two races off following a medical procedure.
In addition to the Camping World NHRA Series pros, the Thunder Valley Nationals will also feature the Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown and a solid roster of Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series action.
You can catch the action all weekend on FOX Sports 1 and NHRA.tv.
You can follow NHRA on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to get a closer look at the action.
2021 EVENT WINNERS
Mike Salinas, Top Fuel; Alexis DeJoria, Funny Car; Angelle Sampey, Pro Stock Motorcycle. (Pro Stock not contested).
3.667 seconds by Steve Torrence, Oct. 2021; 334.48 mph by Justin Ashley, Oct. 2021
3.884 seconds by Ron Capps, June 2016; 330.34 mph by Matt Hagan, Oct. 2021.
6.621 seconds by Shane Gray, June 2014; 209.26 mph by Bo Butner, June 2016
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
6.760 seconds by Karen Stoffer, Oct. 2021; 199.29 by Eddie Krawiec, Oct. 2021.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, June 18 at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for noon on Sunday, June 19.
SATURDAY June 18, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at 11 p.m. (ET)
SUNDAY, June 19, FOX network television will televise 3 hours of finals coverage at 3 p.m. (ET)