Fast and furious: NHRA drivers tear up the track during Thunder Valley qualifying

Dave Ongie • Jun 15, 2013 at 1:24 AM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — New track record.

String those three words together and they form the most exciting phrase in motorsports.

And once the sun went down at Bristol Dragway on Friday night, that phrase seemed to ring out after each lightning-fast pass as the NHRA’s top stars rewrote the record book during the first two rounds of qualifying for the Ford Thunder Valley Nationals.

Mike Edwards, Del Worsham and Spencer Massey all captured provisional poles for Sunday’s final eliminations, and all three did so in record-setting fashion.

Edwards got things started in Pro Stock, toppling the track record by hitting 208.23 mph in the first session. Edwards came back in the second session and set another Bristol mark with a 6.632 ET en route to the provisional pole.

Greeneville’s Allen Johnson was second with a 6.645 ET, but he has plenty of work to do to catch Edwards, who edged out Johnson in the finals to win at Bristol last June for his fourth consecutive victory at the track.

“Happy for my team, all my guys did an awesome job,” Edwards said. “This Camaro is just flawless. We’re really pleased. It’s almost scary how we’re running.”

Friday’s qualifying sessions were bad news for Johnson, who is desperately trying to win his first race at Bristol Dragway. Edwards had the field covered in both sessions, and he hopes to maintain his edge during the final two qualifying sessions today.

“If it’s God’s will, ain’t nobody going to beat me,” Edwards said.

Massey also set track records for both speed and ET in the Top Fuel division thanks to a monster run in optimal conditions during the second session. With the sun long gone, track temperatures fell into the low 80s, allowing Massey to scoot down the track with a 3.775 ET at 326.79 mph.

Massey edged out Steve Torrance’s 3.779 ET, giving Massey his first highlight-reel moment in Thunder Valley.

“I’ve never done extremely well here in Bristol,” Massey said. “I’ve never won the race, I’ve never had anything that was spectacular happen, so obviously a great start. We’ve been going to numerous semifinals this season, and we want to capitalize on that. We want to go to the finals, and win it, but first off, you have to qualify.

“No. 1 and we’re having fun.”

Worsham’s run came an eyelash from breaking into the elusive three-second bracket, but his 4.008 ET was enough to put him on the pole while eclipsing the track record.

As good as Worsham’s run was, however, it wasn’t good enough to set the Funny Car speed record at Bristol Dragway. So Jack Beckman took care of that, hitting 317.05 mph en route to a 4.012 ET that trailed only Worsham.

“I knew it was a great run. The last few races this car has been running better,” Worsham said.

John Force, who is trying to fight his way out of a slow start to the season, was fastest in the first session of the night before Worsham jumped to the top of the charts in the second. Force’s second run left something to be desired, and he enters today’s final two rounds of qualifying sixth on the charts.

Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Qualifying


At Bristol Dragway

Bristol, Tenn.

Qualifying will continue Saturday

Top Fuel

1. Spencer Massey, 3.775 seconds, 326.79 mph. 2. Steve Torrence, 3.779, 324.51. 3. Clay Millican, 3.787, 326.48. 4. David Grubnic, 3.792, 321.12. 5. Tony Schumacher, 3.795, 325.77. 6. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.824, 324.20. 7. Shawn Langdon, 3.826, 303.71. 8. Brittany Force, 3.828, 319.98. 9. J.R. Todd, 3.835, 318.47. 10. Bob Vandergriff, 3.836, 321.04. 11. Doug Kalitta, 3.837, 317.72. 12. Antron Brown, 3.838, 317.05. Not Qualified: 13. Morgan Lucas, 3.860, 317.57. 14. Pat Dakin, 3.900, 302.21. 15. Terry McMillen, 3.916, 307.16. 16. Troy Buff, 3.932, 300.60. 17. Doug Herbert, 3.960, 289.57. 18. Chris Karamesines, 4.066, 247.38. 19. Leah Pruett, 5.264, 131.25.

Funny Car

1. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.008, 314.83. 2. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.012, 317.05. 3. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.049, 317.05. 4. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.061, 315.56. 5. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.066, 310.84. 6. John Force, Mustang, 4.071, 307.93. 7. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.082, 310.70. 8. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.096, 312.42. 9. Jeff Arend, Charger, 4.109, 302.69. 10. Johnny Gray, Charger, 4.127, 298.73. 11. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.134, 309.56. 12. Chad Head, Camry, 4.136, 301.54. Not Qualified: 13. Tony Pedregon, 4.140, 293.79. 14. Robert Hight, 4.186, 294.37. 15. Cruz Pedregon, 4.205, 295.40. 16. Blake Alexander, 4.356, 288.09.

Pro Stock

1. Mike Edwards, Chevy Camaro, 6.632, 208.23. 2. Allen Johnson, Dodge Avenger, 6.645, 207.72. 3. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.661, 206.73. 4. Jeg Coughlin, Avenger, 6.664, 206.67. 5. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.671, 206.57. 6. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.673, 207.30. 7. Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.676, 206.61. 8. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.680, 207.05. 9. V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.686, 206.35. 10. Greg Stanfield, Camaro, 6.689, 205.66. 11. Rickie Jones, Camaro, 6.692, 206.99. 12. Vincent Nobile, Avenger, 6.700, 206.07. Not Qualified: 13. Larry Morgan, 6.713, 204.48. 14. Steve Kent, 6.729, 205.76. 15. JR Carr, 6.733, 205.16. 16. Lewis Worden, 6.744, 204.01. 17. John Gaydosh Jr, 6.997, 196.96. 18. Warren Johnson, 7.295, 201.31. 19. Kurt Johnson, 7.930, 155.52.

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