Torrence, Hight, Anderson and Sampey lead Friday qualifying at NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
Steve Torrence edged out rival Josh Hart for the qualifying lead in Top Fuel Friday during the opening day of action for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at historic Bristol Dragway.
Torrence and Hart posted identical 3.791 second runs in the day’s lone session, but Torrence jumped to the top of the order due to his faster speed of 317.79 mph in his Capco Contractors dragster.
Robert Hight (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were leaders in their respective classes at the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series event.
NHRA’s professional teams were thrown a curveball by Mother Nature as a blast of thunderstorms moved through the area just before the qualifying session.
Torrence, the four-time and defending world champion, was paired with points leader Brittany Force in the final pair of dragsters to make a run and he produced his quick run for the day. Force qualified sixth in her dragster, posting a 3.900 at 254.57 after her car’s engine popped slowing the car dramatically as it approached the finish line.
“To come here straight out of the trailer and have a good solid run right there, that was a good run for us to get the ball rolling to give us momentum going into race day,” said Torrence, whose lone win at Bristol Dragway came in 2013. “Tomorrow will be a different day and we’ll just see where we are at that point and go from there.”
Antron Brown was third with a 3.802 at 323.35, Tennessee native Clay Millican was fourth with a 3.808 at 321.73 and Spencer Massey was fifth, posting a 3.861 at 319.60.
The Funny Cars were first out after the weather moved through and Hight’s Auto Club Chevy Camaro team was the only one to figure out the setup to get down the track in the session.
Hight took the top spot with a leading performance of 3.971 at 310.98, but he expects tomorrow’s two sessions to be quicker for the 12,000-horsepower category.
“After the rain we had today basically we had a green race track,” Hight said. “We were first out, so once we get more rubber down before tomorrow’s run the track is going to be better and I think we are going to see some low 3.90s tomorrow. That’s what I think it’s going to take to get No. 1. We will take number one for the day. It’s a good place to start and even though it wasn’t a perfect run we are able to tune off that run for tomorrow and that’s important.”
In Pro Stock, two-time Bristol winner Greg Anderson moved to the top of the lineup as he chases his milestone 100th career victory. Anderson has been sitting on 99 wins since winning the series crown last season.
“This is a much better start than we had at the last race,” Anderson said. “That was a quality run and you have to do that to get that data. It’s such a good deal for the team when you can do that, it’s an important part of the puzzle. It’s encouraging. We’ve been working awful hard. I think we’re very close to finding our way to the winner’s circle again. I feel like I’m a threat to win again.”
Anderson, who earned his first career victory here in 2001, said he’s not superstitious and isn’t afraid to talk about his 100th victory, which he is optimistic about getting sooner than later. He said it would be awesome to accomplish it here at Bristol, where it all started for him.
“It’s a cool number,” Anderson said. “I’m not panicking. I’m going to get it one day, whether it comes this weekend or next weekend, it’s going to happen, I’m not losing faith. That win here in 2001 started it all and to be able to finish it here would be great to book-end it.”
Defending Thunder Valley Nationals Pro Stock Motorcycle winner Sampey picked up where she left off last year by cruising to the top qualifying spot on her Vance & Hines Suzuki with a leading run of 6.966 at 185.38.
“I believe everyone is going to improve tomorrow,” Sampey said. The weather was rough to deal with today with the changes we had. I think tomorrow with the sun on the track and it being a little cooler, now that we know what to expect and we know where the groove is you may see some curves and I believe it’s going to improve. I hope whatever it is, it’s mine. We will work on that tomorrow.”
Sampey’s teammate Eddie Krawiec was second with a 6.968 at 191.97 on his Suzuki, and followed by Angie Smith with a 6.980 at 193.49 on a Buell. Points leader Steve Johnson was sixth after the first session on his Suzuki, with a 7.015 at 191.95.
Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. to set the fields for Sunday’s final eliminations, which begin at noon. Tickets are available by visiting www.bristolmotorspeedway.com or by calling the Bristol Motor Speedway ticket sales center at 866-415-4158.
Friday's results after the first one of three rounds of qualifying for the 21st annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, ninth of 22 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday's final eliminations.
Top Fuel -- 1. Steve Torrence, 3.791 seconds, 317.79 mph; 2. Josh Hart, 3.791, 316.60; 3. Antron Brown, 3.802, 323.35; 4. Clay Millican, 3.808, 321.73; 5. Spencer Massey, 3.861, 319.60; 6. Brittany Force, 3.900, 254.57; 7. Lex Joon, 4.253, 212.19; 8. Doug Kalitta, 4.579, 178.90; 9. Doug Foley, 4.899, 149.27; 10. Tony Schumacher, 5.876, 110.42; 11. Mike Salinas, 6.659, 87.92; 12. Justin Ashley, 6.818, 85.03; 13. Shawn Langdon, 7.014, 97.38; 14. Austin Prock, 7.341, 85.42; 15. Leah Pruett, 12.415, 65.23.
Funny Car -- 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.971, 310.98; 2. Jim Campbell, Dodge Charger, 4.080, 306.19; 3. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.172, 235.23; 4. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.198, 244.38; 5. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.546, 188.44; 6. John Force, Camaro, 4.723, 256.36; 7. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 5.468, 132.02; 8. J.R. Todd, Toyota Supra, 5.501, 130.35; 9. Alexis DeJoria, Supra, 5.645, 117.97; 10. Ron Capps, Supra, 6.005, 119.91; 11. Jack Wyatt, Charger, 6.519, 106.21; 12. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 6.923, 105.59; 13. Chad Green, Mustang, 7.699, 64.76.
Pro Stock -- 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.686, 202.21; 2. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.701, 204.08; 3. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.701, 201.70; 4. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.706, 204.17; 5. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.712, 205.04; 6. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.713, 203.80; 7. Camrie Caruso, Camaro, 6.713, 202.48; 8. Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.716, 202.33; 9. Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.731, 204.35; 10. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.733, 203.77; 11. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.738, 203.71; 12. Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.741, 203.86; 13. Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.749, 191.13; 14. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.783, 200.47; 15. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Mustang, 6.924, 158.99; 16. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 7.139, 183.32. Not Qualified: 17. Fernando Cuadra, 7.394, 143.40; 18. Wally Stroupe, 7.534, 137.00; 19. Larry Morgan, 7.826, 151.09; 20. Shane Tucker, 7.911, 120.24.
Pro Stock Motorcycle -- 1. Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.966, 185.38; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Suzuki, 6.968, 191.97; 3. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.980, 193.49; 4. Marc Ingwersen, EBR, 6.991, 189.23; 5. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.008, 190.73; 6. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.015, 191.95; 7. Malcolm Phillips Jr., 7.023, 188.33; 8. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 7.028, 189.84; 9. Matt Smith, Suzuki, 7.039, 192.36; 10. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 7.097, 188.15; 11. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 7.126, 188.23; 12. Ron Tornow, Victory, 7.190, 186.20; 13. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 7.228, 185.36; 14. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.262, 185.82; 15. Jianna Evaristo, Suzuki, 7.823, 133.83; 16. Wesley Wells, Suzuki, 10.539, 131.43. Not Qualified: 17. Chris Bostick, 27.552, 182.13.