NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals rescheduled for October 9-11, headlines revamped Bristol Dragway schedule following COVID-19 delays
The NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals has been rescheduled for Oct. 9-11, it was announced today by Bristol Dragway officials as part of NHRA's revised 2020 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule. The NHRA race weekend is one of several major events on the schedule for this summer and fall at the legendary drag racing facility in Northeast Tennessee.
As one of the five final races of the season, the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals will now play a pivotal role in the outcome of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships, which feature competition in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle categories.
The revised weekend schedule for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals will include a condensed format, with NHRA Sportsman qualifying, time trials and exhibition classes only on Friday, followed by NHRA Pro qualifying on Saturday and NHRA Pro and Sportsman final eliminations on Sunday.
"We can't wait to hear the roar of nitro-powered engines rumbling once again at historic Bristol Dragway," said Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager, Bristol Dragway. "We anticipate a lot of championship drama in the top classes taking place during the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals given the event's new location on the 2020 Mello Yello Series schedule."
In addition to the marquee Top Fuel and Funny Car categories, both Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle are scheduled to compete. Pro Stock is making its return to Bristol following a one-year absence, while Pro Stock Motorcycle competitors will make their Bristol points race debut.
The fire-breathing, 11,000-horsepower nitro machines of Top Fuel and Funny Car will once again headline the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. Last year's winners, Mike Salinas (Top Fuel) and Bob Tasca III (Funny Car), will be expected to attend and try to defend their titles. Three-time Bristol winner Doug Kalitta and two-time defending Top Fuel world champion and the 2013 Bristol winner Steve Torrence will also be headliners to watch. In Funny Car, five-time Bristol winner Ron Capps will have a chance to become the winningest Pro category driver at the facility. Four-time Funny Car winner and 2019 Bristol runner-up John Force will be determined to see if he can move into a tie with Capps on the Bristol Funny Car wins list.
With elapsed times reaching the 6.45-second range and speeds reaching 215 mph, the "factory hot rod" Pro Stock category is in the midst of some of the closest racing in history as the class prepares for a return to Bristol. Former Bristol winners Greg Anderson, Erica Enders, Jason Line and Jeg Coughlin Jr. all have two wins at Thunder Valley and will look to add a third, which would put them one behind Mike Edwards on the all-time Bristol wins list for Pro Stock.
The Pro Stock Motorcycle category may have raced at Bristol twice before, but not for championship points. Matt Hines won Bristol exhibition events in the two-wheel class in 1999 (eight riders) and 2000 (16 riders), which means the 2020 NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals will see PSM competitors battling for the first time in an official points capacity at Bristol Dragway. The carbureted or electronic fuel injected, gasoline-burning bikes are capable of reaching speeds near 200 mph and covering the quarter-mile distance in 6.73 seconds or quicker.
The stars of Pro Stock Motorcycle include the Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson trio of six-time world champion Andrew Hines, four-time world champ Eddie Krawiec and three-time world champion Angelle Sampey. Sampey and fellow competitor Steve Johnson are the only two current PSM competitors who have previously raced at Bristol Dragway, although current Top Fuel star Antron Brown also competed in the bike exhibitions during his PSM racing career.
The fan-favorite and unpredictable Pro Mod category also will be featured during the event. Known for its large mix of vehicles and a wide range of engine tuning options, Pro Mod presents one of the most unique challenges as drivers face off with different combinations in the hope of reigning supreme at Thunder Valley.
* Other Bristol Dragway Schedule Changes: In addition to the new date for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, track officials also announced schedule updates for Thunder Valley Street Fights and the DER Series, and that the annual Monster Truck event, which was scheduled for July 11, has been canceled. The Thunder Valley Street Fights will now add dates on June 6 and June 20. The popular DER Series will now be held June 12-14, June 26-28 and July 24-26.
Bristol Dragway 2020 Schedule
June 6 Thunder Valley Street Fights
June 12-14 DER Series
June 20 Thunder Valley Street Fights
June 26-28 DER Series
July 2-5 BTE World Footbrake Challenge XIV
July 10-12 Huddleston Performance Jr. Dragster Nationals
July 13-18 NHRA Jr. Drag Racing Eastern Conference Finals
July 24-26 DER Series
Aug. 1 Thunder Valley Street Fights
Aug. 15 Thunder Valley Street Fights
Aug. 20-23 Bristol Chevy Show and Thunder Valley Mayhem
Aug. 28-29 Street Car Takeover presented by Nitto Tire
Sept. 3-6 BTE World Footbrake Challenge Labor Day 100K
Sept. 29-Oct 3 Sparco Fall Fling presented by Optima Batteries
Oct. 9-11 NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals