Bristol, TN – J.R. Todd and the DHL Toyota Camry raced to the final round and runner-up honors today at the 20th NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at historic Bristol Dragway. The 2018 NHRA Funny Car champion re-inserted himself into the Funny Car championship chase moving from fifth place to third place in the Camping World championship point standings. Starting from the No. 12 qualifier position Todd took out the points leader and No. 3 qualifier Matt Hagan in a huge first round match-up. In the second round he trailered 16-time Funny Car champion John Force before outrunning Ron Capps another driver who ended the day as the points leader but is only 83 points ahead of Todd, with two races remaining. In a final round for the ages Todd squared off with Toyota Racing teammate Alexis DeJoria, the event No. 1 qualifier. At the end of the day even without a victory Todd understood the magnitude of the three win lights he did earn.
“There is nothing I would have done differently in that final,” said Todd. “You are not going to beat a .002 light and a 3.92 on the race track. That is unbelievable. All in all, a great day for the Yella Fellas. It just shows what kind of team I have behind me with everything that has gone on the last three races. It was a good points day, but I just wanted that one bad. The kind of day we had today is the day you dream about as a driver, and I just want to finish it off. There is nothing we could have done differently in the final.”
BRISTOL, TN – Two days of qualifying and a very cool race day challenged Tim Wilkerson and the Levi, Ray & Shoup Summit Racing Ford Mustang Funny Car at historic Bristol Dragway. After the Friday and Saturday qualifying sessions, Wilkerson had powered his 11,000 horsepower Funny Car to the No. 4 qualifier position. He came out of the trailer on Friday with the quickest run of the day and the provisional No. 1. Throughout the two sessions on Saturday Wilkerson along with car chief Richard Hartman looked at ways to repeat that performance after track conditions began to change following overnight rains and dropping temperatures.
Neither run on Saturday moved the team to the finish line under power. The tricky track conditions kept all the Funny Car teams on their toes. Many crew chiefs and teams were discussing managing the track conditions which included an exceptional launch zone for the first 60 feet followed by a track surface that was unwieldy to the power generated by the short wheel-based Funny Cars that cover the 1,000-foot race track in less than four seconds.
On Sunday morning air temperatures barely crept above 50 degrees and track temperatures hovered around 75 degrees at the start of eliminations. A chaotic first round of Top Fuel which featured nearly half a dozen engine explosions resulting in a significant amount of down time had tuners re-evaluating their decisions. Wilkerson made some adjustments based on his two Saturday runs with the hope that he could capture the magic that put him at the top of the field on Friday night.
BRISTOL, TN – Brittany Force with the Flav-R-Pac dragster and Robert Hight with the Automobile Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car raced into the semifinals Sunday at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway. John Force and the PEAK Antifreeze and Coolant Chevy Camaro had a second-round finish.
Coming into race day in the No. 3 qualifying spot after setting the track speed record on Saturday, Brittany Force and the Flav-R-Pac team first competed with Lex Joon. Force would win the round but have a massive explosion near the finish officials assume caused the timing system to trip leaving her without a valid time. Second round would put Force against Spencer Massey. The Flav-R-Pac dragster would run 3.671-seconds at 332.10 mph with another smaller explosion down track but their efforts would still defeat Massey’s 3.777 at 320.13. In the semifinals Force and the Flav-R-Pac team would run into tire smoke early to go only 8.209-seconds at 79.25 mph falling to eventual race winner Mike Salinas and his 3.698 at 330.55.
“I was really proud to be running this Flav-R-Pac car at my favorite race on the circuit, the Thunder Valley Nationals. Overall, happy with our semifinal finish. We made some good passes all weekend long starting Friday night,” said Force who is still second in points. “We had a few issues going rounds today and the boys had a lot of work, but they pulled it together and got us up to that starting line. This Flav-R-Pac / Monster Energy team stayed two in points and we’re looking forward to getting to Vegas, the second to last race of the season.”
Bristol, TN – Elimination Highlights:
– Ron Capps clinched his 800th round win during round two of eliminations to move into the Funny Car points lead and earn a bid into the semifinals for the 10th time this season
– No. 1 ranked Capps departs Bristol Dragway with a one-point lead over No. 2 ranked Matt Hagan, the defending series champion
Driver of the Matco Tools ‘Tools for the Cause’ Toyota Top Fuel Dragster
Qualified: No. 13 (4.572 E.T. at 172.45 MPH)
E1: 4.381 E.T. at 189.47 MPH defeated by Mike Salinas 3.672 E.T. at 334.32 MPH
By JM Hallas
Marion, TX – Weird ending to the night. Well, they don’t call it “chaos” for nothing. With the passing of a cool front Friday evening, temperatures and air conditions changed considerably for Saturday’s start. Now it would be up to crew chiefs to keep up with cooler track surfaces, air density and a wind shift from south to north.
Having one more qualifying round helped teams try out different set ups getting down the track under completely different circumstances. In Friday night qualifying in the warmer, humid conditions it was Ronny Young grabbing the number one spot in Funny Car while Mark Hunter got the top spot in the Outlaw Fuel Altereds.
The final qualifying session Saturday, under better conditions, saw a lot of shuffling in the field with some teams hitting the proverbial nail on the head, while others under estimated conditions. When the smoke cleared, it was championship contender, Kirk Williams jumping past Ronny Young with a pass of 3.62 @ 214.08 to take the number one spot.
BRISTOL, TN – Top Fuel points leader and three-time defending world champ Steve Torrence powered to the track record on Saturday at Bristol Dragway, making the quickest run in Bristol history to qualify No. 1 at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.
Alexis DeJoria (Funny Car) and Scotty Pollacheck (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also qualified No. 1 at the 18th of 20 races during the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season and the fifth race in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. In all, five of the six possible track records were broken during qualifying on Saturday at Bristol, which is hosting its first NHRA playoff races in track history.
Torrence closed out qualifying with a stellar run of 3.667-seconds at 331.28 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster, giving him his fourth No. 1 qualifier this season and 31st in his career. It was the third time the track record was set in Thunder Valley already this weekend in Top Fuel, with Brittany Force doing it on Friday and Mike Salinas following with a 3.668 at 329.83 in the opening round of qualifying on Saturday. Torrence, though, topped everyone and will open eliminations against Cameron Ferre as he attempts to win a fourth straight world title. Torrence is also seeking his 50th career Top Fuel victory.
Bristol, TN – DSR Qualifying Highlights:
– No. 2 ranked Countdown contender Ron Capps led DSR in qualifying at the Thunder Valley Nationals by clocking the second-quickest Funny Car pass on Saturday to earn two bonus points and the No. 2 spot on the eliminations ladder
– As last week’s event winner, Capps is aiming to go back-to-back with consecutive wins on Sunday and pick up his third Funny Car victory of the season while adding to his Bristol win count, which stands at a category-best five Bristol Dragway triumphs
– Current point leader and defending Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan qualified right behind his teammate in third by recording the best run of Q2 and third-quickest run of Q3 to add four bonus points to his total
– Hagan reset the Bristol Funny Car speed record by posting the first 330-mph Funny Car pass in the facility’s history during Q2
– By driving her Top Fuel dragster to the second-quickest run of Q2, Leah Pruett earned two bonus points and secured a spot in the ‘quick half’ of the Top Fuel field to start race day from sixth