The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to “Thunder Valley,” Bristol Dragway in Tennessee, for the 14th annual Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, taking place Friday through Sunday, June 13 through 15. The 10th event on the 2014 schedule features three of the series’ top categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock – as well as the NHRA Pro Mod Series, the Nitro Harley Series and the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
Last year, Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car) and Rodger Brogdon (Pro Stock) took home Wallys from Thunder Valley. The Force family and John Force Racing continues to be one of the premier teams in the NHRA, as the family patriarch and 2013 Funny Car champ is joined by his son-in-law Robert Hight, who currently leads Funny Car points, and youngest daughter Courtney in the Funny Car ranks as well as daughter Brittany in Top Fuel. The sisters recently made NHRA history as they topped the Funny Car and Top Fuel qualifying ladders at Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas, where Courtney went on to earn the 100th win by a female competitor in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series over veteran Cruz Pedregon.
“As a kid growing up watching my dad race, his biggest competitor out there was Cruz Pedregon,” said Force. “They both had good cars and they were both great drivers. I kind of felt like I was a part of history, always watching him race my dad. Then to have me in the lane next to him, all of my childhood was flashing before my eyes. Cruz is one of the toughest guys out there and luckily we were able to get that win.”
Top Fuel driver Spencer Massey is looking to rebound from his first-round exit at the Toyota NHRA Summernationals in Englishtown, New Jersey two weeks ago, and Bristol is just the place to do so. Last season, Massey was runner-up to Torrence, and he took home recent Wallys from Atlanta and Topeka.
“I’m definitely excited to get back out there because I feel like we have our race car back,” said Massey. “The car is moving in the right direction. We need to be running strong and need to be consistently in the 3.70s, and after Englishtown I feel like we have a car and motor that can make that power. Hopefully we can go back to the final round in Bristol and maybe even win it this year.”
When it comes to momentum, Top Fuel rookie Richie Crampton has it. Coming off his first career win at Englishtown – the 100th driver to win in Top Fuel – the Australian is heading to one of his favorite tracks in Bristol.
“Bristol is one of my favorite race tracks to visit and the fans are so great, so I’m pretty excited to go race there,” said Crampton. “However, Morgan Lucas Racing, traditionally, hasn’t run very well there, so it’s exciting to go with a great running race car. We hope to do better than we have in the past and keep the ball rolling.”
Qualifying for the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals begins Friday, June 13 at 5 and 7:30 p.m. ET, and continues Saturday, June 14 at 12:30 and 3 p.m. ET. On Sunday, June 15, final eliminations kick off at noon ET.
Sources: “After Historic Moment Funny Car Driver Courtney Force Ready to Keep Pushing Forward at Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway,” NHRA Media, May 29, 2014
“Top Fuel Standout Spencer Massey Excited for Busy Stretch Starting at Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway,” NHRA Media, June 5, 2014
“Top Fuel Rookie Richie Crampton Ready to Keep Winning Ways Going at Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway,” NHRA Media, June 9, 2014