NHRA Full Throttle coverage is presented by Sonny's Racing Engines.


June 17 19, 2011

THunder Mountain Nationals


Sunday eliminations
Robert Hight raced to his fourth Funny Car victory of the season Sunday and in the process set the national speed record at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers.
Larry Dixon (Top Fuel) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) also were winners at Bristol Dragway in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.

Hight gained momentum with a consistent string of powerful runs throughout the rain-delayed day of racing and finished off final-round opponent Jack Beckman with another strong run in his Auto Club Ford Mustang. Hight powered to a 4.092-second run at 314.90 mph while Beckman trailed with a 5.615 at 152.66 in his Aaron’s/Valvoline Dodge Charger. Hight’s final-round speed certified his earlier performance of 316.45 as the national record.

Hight defeated Ron Capps, teammate and series leader Mike Neff and Jeff Arend en route to the final round.

“We finally got Bristol, how about that?” said Hight of his 22nd victory. “I’ve had trouble with all the races that start with 'B' like Bristol or Brainerd, but we got this one. There’s nothing better than to win this race since it’s now Ford-sponsored. We made eight great runs, and when we needed it the most, Jimmy [Prock, crew chief] pulled it off. I’ve never set any kind of a record before, so that’s pretty cool, too. I know there are no points for a speed record, but it’s still cool to have.”

Despite his second-round exit, Neff maintained his series lead, with runner-up Beckman moving to second and Hight remaining in third.

In Top Fuel, Dixon claimed his first win of the season and his sixth Father’s Day victory by outrunning Antron Brown in the final round. Dixon took his 61st victory and second at Bristol Dragway with a 3.836 at 318.09 in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to finish just in front of the hard-charging Brown, who posted a 3.851 at 306.19 in his Matco Tools dragster.

“Great job by the team, for one,” said Dixon, who beat Rod Fuller, Morgan Lucas and Spencer Massey in the first three rounds. “Since the beginning of the year, even last year, I think we've had a great car, but for one reason or another, we haven't been able to get to the winner's circle and last [race], that was all on me. This weekend, it's Father’s Day. It's unbelievable from that standpoint. It's been so long I don't even think this tower was built the last time I won at Bristol. I'm very elated. I'm really, really happy.”

With the win, defending world champ Dixon moved into second place in the standings, 31 points behind series leader Del Worsham, Dixon’s teammate who lost in the quarterfinals to Massey.

Edwards claimed his third consecutive Bristol Dragway win and 30th of his career and in the process denied Erica Enders a milestone victory as she tried to become the first woman to win in the history of the 41-year-old factory hot rod category. Enders left the starting line first in her ZaZa Energy Chevy Cobalt, but the car lost power near midtrack while Edwards sped down the track to finish in 6.685 at 205.79 in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP.

“We made some ugly runs, and somehow we were able to turn the win light on,” said Edwards of his second win of the season. “Some days, no matter how bad you do, you still win. That’s the kind of day we had today. Congrats to my team. They fought hard. This car has given us so many headaches. I hope we can build on this. We have the K&N Horsepower Challenge next week, so hopefully we can build off of this and something good will happen.”

Edwards moved to second in the series standings with the victory and trails Jason Line by 24 points.

The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series continues June 23-26 with the fifth annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.

Sunday's final results from the 11th annual Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers at Bristol Dragway. The race is the ninth of 22 in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series-

Top Fuel -- Larry Dixon, 3.836 seconds, 318.09 mph def. Antron Brown, 3.851 seconds, 306.19 mph.

Funny Car -- Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.092, 314.90 def. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 5.615, 152.66.

Pro Stock -- Mike Edwards, Pontiac GXP, 6.685, 205.79 def. Erica Enders, Chevy Cobalt, 11.863, 72.89.

Pro Modified -- Melanie Troxel, Chevy Corvette, 5.928, 250.83 def. Danny Rowe, Chevy Camaro, foul.

Super Stock -- Mike Saye, Pontiac Firebird, 10.559, 115.00 def. Dan Fletcher, Chevy Camaro, foul.

Stock Eliminator -- Dan Fletcher, Chevy Camaro, 11.648, 101.07 def. Joe Santangelo, Camaro, 11.149, 98.93.

Super Comp -- Shane Carr, Dragster, 8.946, 160.08 def. Riley Ledbetter, Dragster, 8.936, 172.96.

Super Gas -- Tommy Phillips, Chevy Corvette, 9.968, 134.83 def. Scott Lawton, Chevy Roadster, broke.

Top Dragster -- Jenifer White, Dragster, 6.632, 203.61 def. Casey Spradlin, Dragster, foul.

Nitro Harley -- Tommy Grimes, Harley, 6.328, 224.32 def. Damian Cownden, Harley, 12.222, 71.11.

Saturday final qualifying

Bob Tasca raced to the No. 1 qualifying position in Funny Car Saturday at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers.
Brandon Bernstein (Top Fuel) and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) also will lead their respective categories into Sunday’s noon eliminations as No. 1 qualifiers at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.

Tasca set both ends of the Bristol Dragway track performance record with a powerful pass of 4.056 seconds at 314.31 mph in his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang. It is Tasca’s second No. 1 qualifying position of his career and first since taking the top spot at the 2009 Gatornationals. He will face rookie Daniel Wilkerson in the opening round of eliminations.

Just before the final qualifying session a thunderstorm front moved through the Tri-Cities area and created cooler conditions, which in turn produced a few track record performances, including two for Tasca.

“I predicted this last night, although it didn’t end up exactly the way I thought it would,” Tasca said. “In (the third qualifying session) we (dropped a cylinder) and it smoked the tires. We knew that we had a car that had run a 4.10 last night and (after the rain) we were thrilled to get another shot at it. By the time we ran we were seventh or eighth and when we pulled up I told Chris (Cunningham, crew chief) that we had nothing to lose. He said, ‘Don’t worry, it’s gonna go fast.’ It’s great having the track E.T. and speed record but we’re here to take that trophy home. I knew we were going to at least run 4.08 or quicker. We’ve been waiting four years for that run.”

Southwest Virginia cattle rancher Matt Hagan was second with a 4.082 at 308.07 in his DieHard Dodge Charger, while series points leader Mike Neff, 2008 runner-up at Bristol and a finalist in the last four races, was third with a 4.085 at 311.99 in his Castrol GTX Mustang.

In Top Fuel, Bernstein held on to claim his first No. 1 qualifying position since 2008 in Memphis. Bernstein posted a track record time of 3.828 at 316.52 in his Copart dragster to earn his 14th top qualifying position and third at Bristol Dragway. He will face rookie Austin Lambright in the first round as he tries to end a winless drought that dates back to Richmond 2009.

Larry Dixon had moved into the top spot during the final qualifying session, however the Copart dragster proved to be quick enough to take the top spot back in a thrilling final run of the evening by Bernstein.

“This felt really great,” Bernstein said. “We knew that (Al-Anabi Racing's) Alan Johnson was going to throw everything after it, and I figured that my Friday night time wasn’t going to stand up under the cooler conditions after the rain delay. But my guys, (crew chiefs) Todd Smith and Donnie Bender, told me that we were going to go for it, and my dad (team owner and NHRA legend Kenny Bernstein) just told me to make sure and keep it in the groove. We really feel that we have a real race car right now. There’s a lot of satisfaction knowing that we can go fast when we really have to. It’s a good feeling to have someone take the No. 1 spot away from you and then get it back.”

Defending world champ Dixon settled for second with a 3.831 at 319.37 in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster and the winner of the last two events, Spencer Massey, was third with a 3.852 at 321.73 in his Prestone/FRAM dragster.

In Pro Stock, local favorite Johnson, from nearby Greeneville, Tenn., claimed his first No. 1 qualifying position of the season, second consecutive at this track and 16th of his career when he drove his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger to a 6.668 at 206.89. Johnson, who won the most recent event in Englishtown, N.J., is looking for his second straight win of the season and first ever at his home track.

“Winning a Wally at Bristol, our hometown track, would really be something,” said Johnson, a nine-time NHRA tour winner. “It would rank right up there with the Wallys that we have won at our sponsor’s race in Denver.”

Given the consistency of his new race car, Johnson feels confident about his chances to make it two wins in a row during Sunday’s eliminations. He will face Steve Kent in the opening round.

“I’m really happy with our new Dodge Avenger,” Johnson said. “We made four very good runs this weekend. We’re easing into new waters with this car. We have a real quality product with this chassis, and it showed today because we were the quickest in both sessions.”

Defending event winner Mike Edwards was second with a 6.678 at 206.42 in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP, while current national record holder Rodger Brogdon was third with a 6.696 at 206.45 in his Racers Edge GXP.

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