NHRA Story
National Dragster presents Tricky Tipster's Bristol picks
Thursday, June 12, 2014


For more than five decades, the National Dragster staff has tested its prognosticating skills prior to each national event, putting odds on the top eight racers it thinks have the best shot at victory in Tricky Tipster, which is first posted on NationalDragster.net the Wednesday before each event, then on NHRA.com the following day. This week, Tricky Tipster handicaps the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers. Summernationals Logo
TOP FUEL
Funny Car I Pro Stock I Pro Mod
Doug Kalitta DOUG KALITTA
Mac Tools
His last win was seven races ago, and his next most recent win was seven races before that. As good as he has been, we don't think it will turn into eight. 3-1
  
Shawn Langdon SHAWN LANGDON
Al-Anabi Racing
His performance is back up to the lofty standards of an Alan Johnson-managed team. Last year's Traxxas Shootout winner would sure like a shot to defend his title with six spots already accounted for. 4-1
  
Antron Brown ANTRON BROWN
Matco Tools
Despite coming off a pair of early losses, this team knows how to close a deal when it gets going. He already has three marks in the win column this year. 5-1
  
Richie Crampton RICHIE CRAMPTON
GEICO/Lucas Oil
The Englishtown winner is likely to keep his new-dad mojo going in Bristol. He will be racing on Father's Day, after all. 6-1
  
Steve Torrence STEVE TORRENCE
Capco Contractors
He returns to the site of his last win with a top-five team that's hungry for victory after a half-dozen semifinal finishes. 7-1
  
J.R. Todd J.R. TODD
Optima Batteries
This might be the hardest team to predict and, as a result, the most unnerving to compete against. Connie Kalitta goes for the gusto. 8-1
  
Brittany Force BRITTANY FORCE
Castrol Edge
She trended upward during the last slate of three races in a row. She has the performance to nab her first win at any time. 9-1
  
Tony Schumacher TONY SCHUMACHER
U.S. Army
He has dominated this race with five wins in the past seven years. More of the same would help him move the battle away from the midpack trenches. 10-1
 

FUNNY CAR
Robert Hight ROBERT HIGHT
Auto Club Ford
He may not be going to finals and winning like he once was, but the strong runs are still there, and we haven’t seen anyone make a strong enough case to knock him off the top spot. 3-1
  
Cruz Pedregon CRUZ PEDREGON
Snap-on Toyota
We’re not going to lie, the Tipster had quite the internal debate about putting him this high, but making the quickest run in history and winning have to count for something, right? 4-1
  
Jack Beckman JACK BECKMAN
Valvoline/DSR
Dodge
We feel like somewhat of a broken record, but he has a good car — his qualifying effort in Englishtown was incredible — but something keeps biting him on race day. At some point, that will be corrected, and he’ll make big waves. 5-1
  
Alexis DeJoria ALEXIS DeJORIA
Patrón XO Café
Toyota
Her teammate may have made the E-town final, but we still think she has the slightly better car in the Kalitta camp, and running low e.t. of the first round in New Jersey kind of supports that. 7-1
  
Del Worsham DEL WORSHAM
DHL Toyota
A No. 2 start and runner-up finish in Englishtown is further proof that this team is just a win waiting to happen. 8-1
  
Courtney Force COURTNEY FORCE
Traxxas Ford
The Topeka champ was on the trailer after the first round in Englishtown but only because she was on the losing end of a great race, not because her car has faltered. 10-1
  
Tommy Johnson Jr. TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Make-A-Wish Dodge
He has a good car, but the only breaks his team is catching right now are the mechanical kind that damage bodies. At some point, the tide has to swing the other way. 11-1
  
Ron Capps RON CAPPS
NAPA Dodge
We’d like to believe his bottom-half start and first-round exit in E-town is an anomaly, but with others hitting their strides, it left us no choice but to drop him down in the rankings for now. 12-1
 

PRO STOCK
Jeg Coughlin Jr. JEG COUGHLIN JR.
JEGS.com/Mopar
Dodge
It’s official, Jeggie has found the mojo. It was about this time last year when he started his ascent up the Pro Stock rankings, and history may be repeating itself. 2-1
  
Erica Enders-Stevens ERICA ENDERS-STEVENS
Elite Motorsports
Chevy
Bristol runner-up in 2011 and 2013 likely wouldn’t mind a similar finish this time around. After dominating for several races, EE has come back to earth a bit. Forget the holeshot losses of late, this car has plenty of power to go deep. 3-1
  
Dave Connolly DAVE CONNOLLY
Charter Communications
Chevy
Conventional wisdom would suggest that A.J. belongs in this spot, but one of the Gray Motorsports Camaros has to win at some point this year, right? They just have to. 5-1
  
Allen Johnson ALLEN JOHNSON
Team Mopar/
J&J Dodge
The red Elite Camaro isn’t the only car showing consistency this season. A.J. is either in the final or out first round. Where will the Dart land this time around? 6-1
  
Greg Anderson GREG ANDERSON
Summit Racing
Chevy
After missing the first few races, Anderson has jumped right into the thick of things and is just itching to win a race. If you’re picking a Chevy to take out one of the Dodges in Bristol, going with the white Summit car wouldn’t be a bad idea. 7-1
  
Shane Gray SHANE GRAY
FireAde 2000
Chevy
Still not liking those reaction times out of Shane, including the .078 and .083 in Englishtown eliminations. On the positive side, he has the longest first-round winning streak in the class. 9-1
  
Jason Line JASON LINE
Summit Racing
Chevy
Where have you been, Jason? The world was your oyster when the 2014 season began, and now you’ve fallen back into the middle pack. The world needs more of your quotes from the winner’s circle. Go get it done on Sunday. 10-1
  
Vincent Nobile VINCENT NOBILE
Mountain View
Tire Chevy
We’re waiting for Nobile to have his breakout race. The car can go rounds. They can qualify No. 1. Now it’s time to put it all together and show the championship form they often flashed last season. 11-1
 

PRO MOD
RICKIE SMITH
IDG Camaro
In spite of a rare first-round holeshot loss, he had reason to feel optimistic after Englishtown because he had the quickest car in the field with a 5.83. Bristol is also one of his favorite tracks. 3-1
  
VON SMITH
Al-Anabi/Dr. Moon
Camaro
The most recent winner on the tour, the former Top Alcohol Funny Car racer is also a Tennessee native who is very familiar with Bristol’s famed Thunder Valley quarter-mile. 4-1
  
MIKE JANIS
Jan-Cen Engines
Camaro
Arguably, he had the best car on race day in Englishtown, but a red-light start ended his race in the semifinals. Despite the loss, he’s a solid 5.8-second player who has developed more consistency than most Pro Mod racers. 5-1
  
DANNY ROWE
Agave Underground
Camaro
He has had an up-and-down season thus far but remains just 45 points out of first place, so the championship remains a reachable goal. A strong showing here would go a long way toward helping that become a reality. 6-1
  
KEVIN FISCUS
Fiscus & Klugger
Mustang
After qualifying No. 1 in Englishtown with a 5.85 from his turbocharged Mustang, about the only thing left for him to do is claim his first NHRA victory. That will likely come sooner rather than later. 8-1
  
MIKE CASTELLANA
Al-Anabi Camaro
To be completely fair, he probably should not be ranked this low because he is third in the points standings, but he suffered a rare DNQ in Englishtown. No reason, however, to think that he won’t quickly rebound. 10-1
  
TROY COUGHLIN
JEGS.com Corvette
It has been a rough year so far for the once-dominant turbo cars, but they are slowly getting back on track. In fact, we’d venture that the bright yellow JEGS car is overdue for a breakthrough weekend. 12-1
  
JIM LAURITA
Switzer Dynamics
Camaro
Despite a recent 50-pound weight adjustment, the nitrous cars remain very competitive in the NHRA Pro Mod Series, and this is one of the best of the best. Good bet to qualify No. 1 as well. 14-1