Home First day of qualifying at Thunder Valley

First day of qualifying at Thunder Valley

Rod Mullins

The first day of qualifying has not been kind to some of the NHRA’s best as Ron Capps and Antron Brown were just a couple left frustrated and scratching their heads after their first round qualifying performances at Thunder Valley.

thunder valleyWhile Capps and Brown are looking to better their performances to make the final eliminations on Sunday, some drivers are sitting in the proverbial “catbird seat” barring last minute qualifying failures.

And as fans of the NHRA know, anything can happen at qualifying and anything can happen at Thunder Valley.

Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta currently sits as the No. 1 qualifier at the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway with Tim Wilkerson from the Funny Car division and Jeg Coughlin Jr. from the Pro Stock division as the provisional qualifying leaders at the 11th of 24 events on the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Kalitta piloted his Mac Tools dragster to a 3.781-second pass at 326.71 mph during the second round of qualifying. Thunder Valley is the only track on the current NHRA Mello Yello Series schedule where Kalitta does not have a No. 1 qualifier, a fact that Kallita made note of.

“That was definitely the run to put one down,” Kalitta replied following the solid run. “It was a good, solid run and felt good the whole way. I was really hoping that would contend for low qualifier. This is the one place I haven’t had the low qualifier so I hope to check that off the list.”

Steve Torrence currently is second in his dragster with a run of 3.802 at 317.42. Leah Pritchett is third  after a run of  3.817 at 274.33. Current world champion and Top Fuel points leader Antron Brown is 15th with a 4.910 pass at 151.34.

Tim Wilkerson piloted his Ford Shelby Mustang to a 3.895 pass at 328.22 to take the lead in the Funny Car class. It’s Wilkerson’s best position of first in qualifying so far as his last came at the NHRA Spring Nationals in 2016. John Force Racing currently holds the second, third and fourth spots. Robert High sits in second after a pass of 3.918 at 324.28 in his Chevrolet Camaro SS. Courtney Force is third in her Chevrolet Camaro SS with a run of 3.952 at 324.90 and her father, team owner and 16-time world champion John Force is fourth in his Chevy Camaro with a 3.983 at 322.96. Ron Capps currently sits 14th after his first round of qualifying.

Jeg Coughlin Jr. holds the Pro Stock top spot running a 6.694 at 204.85 in his Chevrolet Camaro. Considering the triple digit temperatures, high humidity and elevation, Coughlin said the effort was a great one against those elements.

“We had a great start here in the mountain today,” commented Coughlin following the run. “It feels great to get a jump on the weekend. Our team is strong, prepared and communicate really well.”

Bo Butner, in his Chevrolet Camaro, sits second with a 6.697 pass at 205.72 and two-time world champion Erica Enders is in third with a pass of 6.704 at 205.66. Tanner Gray suffered several disappointments yesterday at the line, sits in last place, hoping for redemption in Saturday qualifying to have enough momentum to make the finals for Sunday.

Qualifying for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals continues Saturday at Bristol Dragway with finals scheduled for noon on Sunday.

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.