Intrigue is the word of the day at Bristol Dragway as NHRA pros prepare for final eliminations at the Thunder Valley Nationals as there are numerous marquee matchups across all four professional categories.
In Top Fuel, almost every one of the eight pairings has a built-in storyline. Low qualifier Mike Salinas, who set the pace with a 3.76, has to face upset-minded Cameron Ferre, who has a history of winning rounds as an underdog. Points leader Brittany Force also has her hands full with a battle against Doug Kalitta, whose Mac Tools team has shown significant improvement lately.
Antron Brown and Tony Schumacher, who have combined to win 11 world titles, are scheduled to race in round one while Justin Ashley and Josh Hart will do battle in a race between two of the sports rising stars.
Perhaps the most watched battle in Top Fuel will involve Spencer Massey and Shawn Langdon, noteworthy as it features two of the sport’s best starting line drivers. Both Langdon and Massey have extensive sportsman racing experience.
In Funny Car, low qualifier Robert Hight has a bye run due to the 15 car field while championship contender Matt Hagan races Phil Burkart. Reigning champ Ron Capps has a tough draw in Paul Lee while Bob Tasca III and Alexis DeJoria represent another interesting pair.
John Force will square off against gritty independent Terry Haddock while J.R. Todd and Cruz Pedregon will meet in a battle of former champions.
In terms of performance, not much separates the top 16 qualifiers in Pro Stock so almost every race is a toss-up. Points leader Erica Enders will begin her bid for a fourth-straight win by racing Cristian Cuadra while low qualifier Aaron Stanfield races Wally Stroupe.
The Kyle Koretsky vs. Mason McGaha race figures to be a close battle while the same could be said for the meeting between Matt Hartford and Deric Kramer. Also if intrigue is the Camrie Caruso vs. Chris McGaha race as well as the Dallas Glenn vs. Bo Butner battle.
World champs Angelle Sampey and LE Tongelt are scheduled to meet in the opening round of Pro Stock Motorcycle while points leader Steve Johnson has a race against Ron Tornow. Two more world champs, Eddie Krawiec and Jerry Savoie, are also paired in round one.
Finally, Matt Smith takes on Chris Bostick while his wife, Angie Smith, is racing Malcolm Phillips, who is making his NHRA debut this week.
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.
Final eliminations are scheduled for noon on Sunday, June 19.
SUNDAY, June 19, FOX network television will televise 3 hours of finals coverage at 3 p.m. (ET)