DeJoria, Torrence and Pollacheck earn No. 1 qualifying positions at NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
Alexis DeJoria claims first No. 1 Qualifier in more than five years
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Alexis DeJoria was emotional after earning her first No. 1 qualifying position since the 2016 season Saturday during the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.
DeJoria, who took a two-year hiatus from the sport in 2018 and 2019, powered her Toyota to a top qualifying run of 3.907 seconds at 326.79 mph. She will face Paul Lee in Sunday’s first round of eliminations, which begin at 11:30 a.m.
“Hopefully we can build on what we did tonight and be consistent and get some round wins tomorrow,” DeJoria said. “We have been working so hard every round, and one day all the plans are going to align for us and we are going to start winning. It’s so gratifying it kinda feels like a win, it’s been so tough the last few races. It’s crunch time, we gotta do it now. As of right now we just want to finish out the year with a win.”
DeJoria said to claim her fifth career No. 1 here at Bristol Dragway, which she calls her favorite track, was extra special.
“Bristol was my first Funny Car final, so there’s that, and it’s so beautiful here,” DeJoria said. “The acoustics here are like monsters. It’s incredible.”
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel) and Scotty Pollacheck (Pro Stock Motorcycle) will also lead their respective classes into eliminations as No. 1 qualifiers in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship Playoff event.
Torrence, who is battling with Brittany Force and Justin Ashley for the Top Fuel crown, claimed his fourth No. 1 of the season and 31st of his career with his track record time of 3.667 at 331.28. He will race Cameron Ferre in the opening round Sunday.
It’s Torrence’s first No. 1 since the Norwalk, Ohio race in June. Since that time Brittany Force has claimed nine No. 1 awards, including an impressive eight in a row.
“That was really big for us,” Torrence said. “We’ve been picking at that over the last few races. (Brittany Force crew chief David Grubnic) Grubby has shown everyone that he’s the homerun hitter where he swings for the fences. That’s a weapon in his arsenal that we need to match or take away. It’s something you don’t get overnight. You have to work at that.”
Torrence will try to build on his category leading nine season victories and add to his lone Bristol Dragway victory, which came in 2013. The race tomorrow, however, promises to be in much cooler conditions than what the teams face here in the heat and humidity of the traditional Father’s Day weekend in June.
“We went 331 and we needed to run more mile per hour, that was just a confidence builder,” Torrence said. “The conditions tomorrow are going to be just like today or even cooler. We are in the thick of this championship hunt and we are going to have to go out there and just throw down every run. No one has ever raced here in these conditions, this time of year when it’s this cool. It’s gonna be a great show for the fans for certain.”
Force, who qualified third and will race Lex Joon in round one, claimed the track speed record with a powerful 333.58 mph blast in her John Force Racing-owned dragster. Ashley qualified fifth and will open eliminations against Shawn Langdon.
Medford, Oregon resident Pollacheck took the No. 1 spot in Pro Stock Motorcycle by setting both ends of the track record at 6.859 seconds at 197.80 mph. It is Pollacheck’s third No. 1 of the season and fifth of his career. He is looking forward to leading the popular two-wheel class into its first official points-earning elimination race at historic Bristol Dragway.
“It’s awesome to be here at Bristol and be No. 1,” Pollacheck said. “It’s been a lot of years since our class has raced at Bristol and we weren’t even racing back then, so it’s really cool to do that today. I love coming to new places. I had never been to Tennessee before. It’s a great adventure. I’ve watched this race on TV for years and what a cool place this would be to race. I’ve always wanted to come here and I’m glad we finally got to do it. The fans are amazing here as well, just a great place to come.”
Legends of Thunder Valley inaugural member Rickie Smith qualified No. 1 in Pro Mod with a 5.708 at 250.64 in a late model Chevy Camaro. He will face JR Gray Jr. in the opening round of eliminations as he seeks to add another Bristol Dragway trophy to his vast collection.
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NHRA THUNDER VALLEY NATIONALS CAMPING WORLD SERIES FIRST-ROUND PAIRINGS:
Top Fuel -- 1. Steve Torrence, 3.667 seconds, 331.28 mph vs. 14. Cameron Ferre, 11.398, 70.10; 2. Mike Salinas, 3.668, 329.83 vs. 13. Antron Brown, 4.572, 172.45; 3. Brittany Force, 3.672, 333.58 vs. 12. Lex Joon, 4.271, 199.64; 4. Billy Torrence, 3.672, 329.58 vs. 11. Doug Kalitta, 4.203, 221.78; 5. Justin Ashley, 3.688, 330.80 vs. 10. Shawn Langdon, 3.763, 329.91; 6. Leah Pruett, 3.691, 327.11 vs. 9. Spencer Massey, 3.761, 322.19; 7. Josh Hart, 3.696, 330.88 vs. 8. Clay Millican, 3.711, 326.87.
Funny Car -- 1. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.907, 326.79 vs. 14. Paul Lee, Dodge Charger, 6.006, 112.69; 2. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.945, 325.61 vs. 13. Blake Alexander, Ford Mustang, 5.732, 139.11; 3. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.958, 330.31 vs. 12. J.R. Todd, Camry, 5.703, 122.17; 4. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.965, 295.27 vs. 11. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 5.653, 124.13; 5. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.968, 323.50 vs. 10. Cory Lee, Mustang, 4.195, 282.95; 6. John Force, Camaro, 3.968, 322.73 vs. 9. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.004, 303.16; 7. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.975, 320.13 vs. 8. Dave Richards, Mustang, 3.983, 315.27.
Pro Stock Motorcycle -- 1. Scotty Pollacheck, EBR, 6.859, 197.80 vs. Bye; 2. Matt Smith, EBR, 6.865, 197.54 vs. 15. Angie Smith, EBR, 8.952, 102.32; 3. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.867, 194.41 vs. 14. Lance Bonham, Buell, 7.313, 183.74; 4. Andrew Hines, Buell, 6.906, 195.56 vs. 13. Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 7.262, 169.66; 5. Chris Bostick, Suzuki, 6.913, 193.27 vs. 12. Charles Poskey, Suzuki, 7.175, 190.83; 6. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.942, 193.60 vs. 11. Ron Tornow, Victory, 7.084, 189.58; 7. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.965, 191.13 vs. 10. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 7.042, 193.13; 8. Eddie Krawiec, Buell, 6.966, 196.36 vs. 9. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.966, 193.35.