Home Anderson, Force and Millican weather the Saturday heat at Bristol Dragway

Anderson, Force and Millican weather the Saturday heat at Bristol Dragway

Rod Mullins
Greg Anderson
NHRA drivers Greg Anderson (Pro Stock), Courtney Force (Funny Car) and Clay Millican (Top Fuel) are the top racers to beat going into the Fitzgerald USA Thunder Valley Nationals on Sunday at Bristol Dragway
(NHRA photos)

“It never became a goal or a want until sometime ago,” commented Pro Stock driver Greg Anderson. That goal? To make it to his 100th number one start for his career.

Anderson has been on a roll lately. He’s already had seven number one qualifying efforts on the season. But for this weekend?  It’s was his first ever qualifying victory at Thunder Valley.

But Anderson is well aware, his job is not over yet this weekend.

“We’re going to embrace the challenge (of Thunder Valley),”  replied Anderson after securing his starting spot and the green hat going into tomorrow. “It’s almost been like the US Open that’s  currently going on.”

Anderson added that the credit should go to his team for his achievement and recognition on the afternoon. “Someway, somehow, I’m going to find a way to pay my guys back for what they’ve done for me.”

As action moves into Sunday and eliminations, Jeg Coughlin qualified in the number two spot in Pro Stock with Drew Skillman in the three spot, Tanner Gray in fourth and Alex Laughlin in the fifth spot. Erica Enders placed eleventh.

In Funny Car, Courtney Force holds on to the top spot and the green hat for tomorrow’s eliminations but her weekend is far from over.

“We’re going to have learn quick tonight and be ready for tomorrow.  We’ve struggled a little bit but I’ve got the faith in my team, replied the current points leader.  “I’m really proud of my guys, they’ve been working hard.  We’ve got a great going. We’re just trying to stay focused and gelled.”

J.R. Todd placed third in the DHL Camry picked up some much need spots going into eliminations tomorrow.  “It was a good run for DHL. This place is tricky but I think we’re getting it figured out.”

Robert Hight placed third, Bob Tasca fourth and Cruz Pedregon came in fifth. Courtney’s father John Force rolls of seventh and will face a challenge in 11 seed Ron Capps who ran a 301.07 mph jaunt down Thunder Valley and seemed to figure out the track better from his previous runs.  Matt Hagan placed ninth and roll off against Tommy Johnson, Jr. in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.

Last year’s winner in Top Fuel at Thunder Valley, Clay Millican, will wear the green hat going into tomorrow’s finals and a smile to boot.

I’m smiling… considering the struggles everybody else has had.  We “gapped the field” today. But hats off to my team for the effort,” replied the Tennessee native.

“On the 3rd round Qualifier, I was wide open and I have to tell you I love this racetrack.  And this is my favorite place to race…period. We know all these teams are coming for us and we’ve got to be ready.”

But as for the preference for which lane on Sunday?  “The lane that the win light comes on. I mean I don’t have a say-so but I’m having a blast in case you didn’t notice.”

Millican holds the number one position with Tony Schumacher in second, Antron Brown in third, Scott Palmer in fourth and Brittany Force in fifth.  Leah Pritchett placed ninth.

Sunday’s Father’s Day race program begins with a track walk around 10:00 AM as fans and drivers can walk down the famed track at Bristol Dragway and then Doughnuts with Dad following the walk, leading up 12 noon and elimination rounds.

By Rod Mullins | Augusta Free Press

Rod Mullins

Rod Mullins

Rod Mullins covers NASCAR for AFP, and co-hosts the mid-week “Street Knowledge” focusing on NASCAR with AFP editor Chris Graham. A graduate of UVA-Wise, Rod began his career in journalism as a reporter for The Cumberland Times, later became the program director/news director/on-air morning show host for WNVA in Norton, Va., and in the early 1990s served as the sports information director at UVA-Wise and was the radio “Voice of the Highland Cavaliers” for football and basketball for seven seasons. In 1995, Rod transitioned to public education, where he has worked as a high school English, literature, and creative writing teacher and now serves as a school program coordinator in addition to serving as a mentor for the robotics team.