The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to Tennessee for its 10th stop on the 2014 circuit at the 14th annual Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers, June 13-15, at Bristol Dragway.
The best in Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock will all compete for the Wally beneath the shadows of the Appalachian Mountains. Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), and Rodger Brogdon (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
Bristol Dragway has proven to be a valuable asset to the NHRA Mello Yello Series circuit. Held on Father’s Day, the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals have become a popular event where the NHRA’s best duke it out for the ultimate bragging rights for the state of Tennessee.
Last season in Top Fuel, Torrence recorded his first win at Bristol and fourth of his career, defeating Spencer Massey in the finals. The driver of the Capco Constructors dragster has been consistent so far in 2014, posting semifinal appearances at six of the first nine races of the season.
Antron Brown is on a roll this season, leading the points standings after wins in Phoenix, Charlotte, and Houston. Brown, the 2012 Top Fuel world champion, has never won at the Tennessee track and will be looking to tame Thunder Valley. Others to watch in the Top Fuel field include points leader and three-time Bristol winner Doug Kalitta, five-time Bristol winner Tony Schumacher, reigning Top Fuel world champion Shawn Langdon, Massey, reigning Auto Club of Southern California Road the Future Award winner Brittany Force, J.R. Todd, and rookie Richie Crampton, who scored his first career win in Englishtown.
Sixteen-time Funny Car world champion John Force has four career wins in Bristol, including his victory over recent Englishtown winner Cruz Pedregon last season. Force won the season-opening event in Pomona and is currently second in Funny Car points. The reigning champ would love to add a second win of the season for his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang in Bristol.
Funny Car points leader Robert Hight is arguably the most consistent driver in NHRA, appearing in six finals out of nine races this season and winning four of them. Hight, the 2009 Funny Car world champion, won in Bristol in 2011 and is gunning for a second Tennessee Wally.
Ron Capps (three wins) and Del Worsham (two wins) have multiple victories at the track, and both are looking for their first wins of the season. Alexis DeJoria, Matt Hagan, Courtney Force, Jack Beckman, and Tommy Johnson Jr. are a few of the other Funny Car competitors who are expected to compete for the victory.
Brogdon secured his first career Pro Stock win in Bristol last season, and the Tomball, Texas, native would love to win a second Bristol event.
Brogdon’s opponent in his Bristol final was Erica Enders-Stevens. Enders-Stevens has had different fortunes in 2014, winning two points races, winning the prestigious K&N Horsepower Challenge, and leading the Pro Stock points, the first time a female has been in the top spot. Two-time season winner Jeg Coughlin Jr., Allen Johnson, Greg Anderson, Dave Connolly, and Jason Line will all compete for the coveted win in Bristol.
The NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series returns for its fifth race of the 2014 season in Bristol. Mike Castellana, Mike Janis, Rickie Smith, and Von Smith have all scored wins this season and will be threats to take the win in the popular doorslammer category.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and enjoy some cherished face time and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food, and fun for the entire family.
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday, June 13, with sessions at 5 and 7:30 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, June 14, at 12:30 and 3 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for Sunday, June 15, at 11 a.m. NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday, June 13, with sessions at 4:30 and 6:45 p.m. continuing with one qualifying session on Saturday, June 14, at 2 p.m. Round one of eliminations is later on Saturday at 3 p.m.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call Bristol Dragway at (866) 901-2679 or visit www.thundervalleytix.com.