Home Salinas, Hight, Stanfield, Sampey earn No. 1 qualifying spots at Thunder Valley Nationals

Salinas, Hight, Stanfield, Sampey earn No. 1 qualifying spots at Thunder Valley Nationals


NHRA Thunder Valley NationalsMike Salinas’ stronghold on Bristol Dragway continued Saturday as the California racer powered to the No. 1 qualifying position at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

Salinas has won the last two Bristol races and he’s appeared in the last three finals here at the scenic Northeast Tennessee dragstrip. He will face Cameron Ferre in the first round of eliminations as he looks to post his third consecutive win at this event.

Robert Hight (Funny Car), Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) will lead their categories into Sunday’s final eliminations at noon.

Salinas powered his Team Scrappers dragster to a quick time of 3.767 seconds at 327.59 mph to move past Friday qualifying leader Steve Torrence, who qualified second with his 3.791 at 317.79 in his Capco Contractors dragster.

“We’ll be surprised how fast these cars are going to go tomorrow, I think we’ll see some low 70s,” Salinas said. “It’s amazing. We were trying to run a (3.72) on the first couple of passes. I asked (crew chief Rob Flynn) what we were going to run and he said a (3.75). We’ve showed that we can win from the five spot and also the ninth spot, so we weren’t really worried about where we qualified we felt like we could be in the top three and be OK.”

In Funny Car, no one bettered Hight’s Friday performance of 3.971 at 310.98 in his Auto Club Chevy Camaro. He will get an opening round bye as he goes for his fourth victory of the season. It is his second No. 1 of the season and 73rd of his career.

“I’m surprised,” Hight said. “I definitely didn’t think that would stay at the top. We went up there trying to run better than the 97, but it put a cylinder out. Being No. 1 is a good position to be in. In drag racing you are only as good as the last run. We get a single in the first round and another chance to test and learn from it.”

Hight, who won at Bristol Dragway in 2011, feels like his team is ready to add another victory at the historic venue.

“I have a real good feeling if we can make four three-second runs tomorrow we will be holding the trophy at the end of the day,” Hight said. “We will be looking at data tonight and making adjustments and preparing for tomorrow.”

Hight, who took some track laps in the BMS Pace Car earlier in the day at the adjacent Bristol Motor Speedway, said he enjoys racing at Bristol, where he says the NHRA receives a great reception.

“The fans are why we are here,” Hight said. “When you come around the staging lanes and you look up there and see all the fans it gets your attention. This is such a beautiful facility, we love coming here.”

In Pro Stock, Stanfield claimed his third No. 1 of the season with his run from the second round of qualifying, a 6.638 at 206.57 in his Chevy Camaro . He will face Baron Stroupe in the opening round.

“I haven’t had much luck from the No. 1 position in any class I’ve raced in,” Stanfield said, “but we are going to try and turn that around tomorrow.”
It is Stanfield’s first No. 1 ever at Bristol Dragway, a track where the Louisiana native has lots of support through local family members and friends in attendance.

“My grandpa is from Bluff City and he has won a national event here, and my dad (Greg Stanfield) never got it done here, and I’ve won Top Dragster here,” Stanfield said. “We just love this place and want to do well here. This is the best race track for sure.”

Sampey scored her first No. 1 at Bristol, the second of the season and 55th of her career on her Suzuki, which took the top spot with a run of 6.874 at 196.04.

“It’s very exciting for my Vance & Hines team,” Sampey said. “Yesterday it was mentioned that Vance & Hines is the only team that has won at this track and I want to keep it that way.

“I’m going to try not to win the race on the first round,” Sampey continued. “Eddie and Andrew are great coaches and they are really helping me with my confidence and my thinking on the starting line. The whole goal tomorrow is to take it slow and easy in my mind, but fast on the race track.”
Sampey will race LE Tonglet in the opening round in front of a grandstand full of fans that she says have really embraced her.

“It’s cool to qualify No. 1 here,” Sampey said. “As a team we’ve done some cool things, but that’s definitely up there near the top. Getting No. 1 here at Bristol, I haven’t had this much support since back in the Winston days. The line at my trailer for autographs is endless and I haven’t had that in 20 years. The support is phenomenal at this race track and I’m so appreciative of it.”

First-round pairings for Sunday

Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations for the 21st annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, the ninth of 22 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series.  Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.

Top Fuel — 1. Mike Salinas, 3.767 seconds, 327.59 mph  vs. 16. Cameron Ferre, 4.438, 189.34; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.791, 317.79  vs. 15. Lex Joon, 4.253, 212.19; 3. Josh Hart, 3.791, 316.60  vs. 14. Justin Ashley, 3.975, 252.95; 4. Antron Brown, 3.802, 323.35  vs. 13. Tony Schumacher, 3.913, 306.33; 5. Brittany Force, 3.807, 325.69  vs. 12. Doug Kalitta, 3.877, 321.12; 6. Clay Millican, 3.808, 321.73  vs. 11. Doug Foley, 3.870, 316.75; 7. Austin Prock, 3.835, 325.30  vs. 10. Leah Pruett, 3.867, 318.32; 8. Spencer Massey, 3.861, 319.60  vs. 9. Shawn Langdon, 3.861, 319.07.

Funny Car — 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.971, 310.98  vs. Bye; 2. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.996, 317.05  vs. 15. Jack Wyatt, Dodge Charger, 6.519, 106.21; 3. John Force, Camaro, 3.997, 321.96  vs. 14. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 5.498, 132.54; 4. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.014, 318.09  vs. 13. Phil Burkart, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.857, 173.67; 5. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.035, 316.90  vs. 12. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Supra, 4.461, 214.08; 6. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 4.068, 312.71  vs. 11. J.R. Todd, Supra, 4.390, 222.51; 7. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.080, 306.19  vs. 10. Chad Green, Mustang, 4.212, 259.16; 8. Paul Lee, Charger, 4.084, 310.77  vs. 9. Ron Capps, Supra, 4.087, 311.70.

Pro Stock — 1. Aaron Stanfield, Chevy Camaro, 6.638, 206.57  vs. 16. Wally Stroupe, Camaro, 6.735, 203.52; 2. Camrie Caruso, Camaro, 6.644, 204.23  vs. 15. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.717, 204.29; 3. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.658, 205.63  vs. 14. Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.703, 205.10; 4. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.662, 204.60 vs. 13. Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.692, 204.70; 5. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.663, 204.88  vs. 12. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.691, 204.91; 6. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.664, 205.54  vs. 11. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.688, 205.60; 7. Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.675, 204.76  vs. 10. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.685, 206.54; 8. Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.682, 205.85  vs. 9. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Mustang, 6.683, 204.98.  Did Not Qualify: 17. Alan Prusiensky, 6.739, 203.16; 18. Fernando Cuadra, 6.788, 203.03; 19. Shane Tucker, 6.901, 203.77; 20. Larry Morgan, 7.826, 151.09.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.874, 196.04  vs. 16. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 7.228, 185.36; 2. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.889, 194.44  vs. 15. Jianna Evaristo, Suzuki, 7.222, 182.65; 3. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.894, 195.39  vs. 14. Ron Tornow, Victory, 7.097, 189.23; 4. Marc Ingwersen, EBR, 6.921, 194.35  vs. 13. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.067, 191.40; 5. Matt Smith, Suzuki, 6.927, 195.62  vs. 12. Chris Bostick, Suzuki, 7.016, 190.89; 6. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.932, 196.82  vs. 11. Malcolm Phillips Jr., Suzuki, 6.980, 192.66; 7. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.943, 194.18  vs. 10. Eddie Krawiec, Suzuki, 6.965, 195.00; 8. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.947, 194.35  vs. 9. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 6.956, 195.19.  Did Not Qualify: 17. Wesley Wells, 7.426, 180.84.



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