Eliminations Set For Thunder Valley
Cory McClenathan (Top Fuel), Ashley Force Hood (Funny Car), and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock), will lead their classes into the eliminations at the Thunder Valley Nationals on Sunday.
All three hung onto their top-qualifyings spots at Bristol Dragway on Saturday.
McClenathan’s 3.874 from Friday was seriously challenged on Saturday because of warmer track temperatures.
“I’ll definitely take that No. 1, but at the same time, tomorrow is the most important; we need to go rounds,” said McClenathan. “That’s the one thing this Fram Top Fuel dragster has been able to do this year is go rounds. We’ve been in two finals. We’ve not won a race yet with this car, but it has been consistent. I think the Fram Tough Guard guys have done a great job with that.
“Consistency is everything to me. Our car has been very consistent. That’s what Todd [Okuhara] and Phil [Shuler, crew chiefs] and the guys have really done for me this year. They’ve given me a car that no matter what racetrack we go to, we may not be the quickest car all the time but we’re always right in the hunt with everybody and it does go A to B. I’m in a really good comfort zone because I know this car is going to run good all the time.”
Brandon Bernstein remained second on the strength of his 3.875 from Friday. Last year’s winner Tony Schumacher begins his title defense from the third position, and Larry Dixon, who ran low e.t. of Saturday with a 3.923, is fourth. Shawn Langdon, Clay Millican, Antron Brown, and Doug Herbert round out the top half of the field.
Force Hood’s 4.105 from Friday easily stood up on Saturday.
Tim Wilkerson remains second thanks to the 4.109 he clocked Friday. Del Worsham is third, followed by Matt Hagan, Ron Capps, Cruz Pedregon, John Force, and Tasca. Andy Kelley will make his first Sunday start of ’09 after running a best of 4.633 that anchors the 16-car field. Kelley draws Force Hood in the opening round. Also in round one, Force takes on Jack Beckman in one of the best pairings of the round in any of the Professional classes.
In one of the biggest shockers of qualifying so far this year, perennial title contender Robert Hight was the lone driver who did not qualify. After not getting a run on Friday night due to mechanical problems, Hight had a trouble-filled Saturday, posting a best of 5.229 that left him on the outside of the field.
Edwards enters Sunday’s eliminations as the favorite in Pro Stock after nabbing the No. 1 spot with his 6.698 from Friday and running low e.t. of both qualifying sessions Saturday with back-to-back 6.73s from his Young Life/Penhall GXP.
There was no movement in the top 12 with the 12 drivers who secured a spot in the field Friday maintaining their positions. Points leader and reigning world champion Jeg Coughlin will start race day from the No. 2 spot, followed on the ladder by Greg Anderson, Greg Stanfield, Jason Line, Allen Johnson, Ron Krisher, and Rodger Brogdon.
“Tomorrow is a different day, but we have made some really good runs here,” said Edwards. “My guys, I can’t say enough about them. They’ve done an awesome job here this weekend. They’ve worked really well together and made all the right adjustments. It’s a pretty tricky track, and they’ve really done a good job and I’m really proud of them. Like I said before, I just want to give God all the glory because I’m truly blessed to be here living the dream.
“I think I have as good of a chance as anybody [tomorrow]. I’ve struggled a little bit on Sunday with my driving, but hopefully, I can turn that around and make this a great weekend for us.”
- First-round pairings for professional eliminations
Sunday for the Ninth annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol
Dragway, the eighth of 24 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing
Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday.
DNQs listed below pairings.
Top Fuel — 1. Cory McClenathan, 3.874 seconds, 312.21 mph vs. 16.
Michael Gunderson, 4.191, 290.63; 2. Brandon Bernstein, 3.875, 312.64
vs. 15. Joe Hartley, 4.130, 283.31; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.883, 306.60
vs. 14. Terry Haddock, 4.036, 296.76; 4. Larry Dixon, 3.886, 312.93 vs.
13. Pat Dakin, 4.033, 296.44; 5. Shawn Langdon, 3.892, 309.70 vs. 12.
Dom Lagana, 3.995, 297.02; 6. Clay Millican, 3.897, 310.20 vs. 11.
Morgan Lucas, 3.952, 300.53; 7. Antron Brown, 3.898, 313.07 vs. 10. Troy
Buff, 3.950, 298.14; 8. Doug Herbert, 3.906, 307.23 vs. 9. Doug Kalitta,
3.916, 307.37. Did Not Qualify: 17. Spencer Massey, 4.302, 294.88; 18.
Chris Karamesines, broke.
Funny Car — 1. Ashley Force Hood, Ford Mustang, 4.105, 298.67 vs. 16.
Andy Kelley, Dodge Stratus, 4.633, 241.67; 2. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang,
4.109, 295.08 vs. 15. Jerry Toliver, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.456, 223.65;
3. Del Worsham, Toyota Solara, 4.128, 298.93 vs. 14. Jeff Arend, Solara,
4.335, 280.02; 4. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.139, 295.66 vs. 13. Tony
Pedregon, Chevy Impala, 4.218, 292.39; 5. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.151,
291.95 vs. 12. Bob Bode, Chevy Impala SS, 4.210, 292.90; 6. Cruz
Pedregon, Solara, 4.153, 295.53 vs. 11. Mike Neff, Mustang, 4.186,
291.01; 7. John Force, Mustang, 4.154, 297.94 vs. 10. Jack Beckman,
Charger, 4.184, 298.07; 8. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.163, 289.88 vs. 9.
Jim Head, Solara, 4.166, 293.41. Did Not Qualify: 17. Robert Hight,
Pro Stock — 1. Mike Edwards, Pontiac GXP, 6.698, 205.72 vs. 16. David
Beckley, Dodge Stratus, 6.796, 203.61; 2. Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Cobalt,
6.712, 205.85 vs. 15. Ronnie Humphrey, Stratus, 6.792, 204.01; 3. Greg
Anderson, GXP, 6.716, 205.44 vs. 14. Justin Humphreys, GXP, 6.782,
203.00; 4. Greg Stanfield, GXP, 6.721, 204.76 vs. 13. Johnny Gray,
Stratus, 6.761, 204.39; 5. Jason Line, GXP, 6.722, 204.91 vs. 12. Rickie
Jones, Stratus, 6.753, 204.20; 6. Allen Johnson, Stratus, 6.723, 205.10
vs. 11. Larry Morgan, Stratus, 6.748, 204.14; 7. Ron Krisher, Cobalt,
6.725, 205.07 vs. 10. Warren Johnson, GXP, 6.747, 204.79; 8. Rodger
Brogdon, GXP, 6.726, 205.79 vs. 9. Kurt Johnson, Cobalt, 6.726, 204.79.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Dave Northrop, 6.811, 203.65; 18. Steve Spiess,
6.821, 202.30; 19. Bob Benza, 6.895, 200.11; 20. Erica Enders, 6.900,
199.26; 21. V. Gaines, 6.912, 203.12; 22. John Gaydosh Jr, 6.949,