By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Drivers Storm In To Thunder Valley For NHRA Action
622 Ashley
Thundering to the win in Top Fuel during the NRHA competition in Bristol, Tennessee was Justin Ashley, earning his second victory of the season. Photo By Jeff Burghardt

Justin Ashley (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) claimed wins the weekend of June 17 through 19 at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tennessee.

A tricky track combined with high track temperatures, made for some difficult racing, as it leveled the playing field. Cars, drivers and teams that normally had strong performances were slowed, as they fought for traction and performance on the track. The track is located in a valley between two mountains, which causes the sound of the thundering race cars to reverberate in ways not experienced at any other track. Thus the name “Thunder Valley”.

Justin Ashley qualified 14th and came in with one event win (the season opening Winter Nationals in Pomona), then picked up his second win of the season as he got past Shawn Langdon in the final round 3.813 at 325.30 mph to 3.841 at 320.51 mph, advancing to third in the Camping World Drag Racing Series points race, behind Brittany Force and Mike Salinas.

In Funny Car, John Medlen and Dean Antonelli (crew chiefs) gave Ron Capps a car that could win. And win, he did, as he claimed the first win of the season for Toyota’s new Supra-bodied funny car. On the way to this victory, Capps recorded the only three-second pass in the class, on eliminations day, as he defeated Tim Wilkerson in the final round, 3.984 at 324.86 mph to 4.075 at 315.86 mph. The win was the 70th of his career and he now sits third in the points race behind Matt Hagan and Robert Hight.

In Pro Stock, Erica Enders is dominating, having won four of the six events contested with the last three wins being consecutive. She and her team struggled slightly during qualifying, sitting third. But on eliminations day, they were back in stride. In the final round, her opponent would be Aaron Stanfield, one of her Elite Motorsports teammates, who already had one win on the season. Both drivers left together. As Stansfield’s car started to shake, he had to get off the throttle and take it out of gear. Then, without warning, smoke started coming out of Ender’s engine and the engine let go. This is not a common thing in Pro Stock. Seeing that, Stansfield quickly reacted, putting his car back in gear and stomped on the throttle. He was able to run down Enders and take the win, 8.033 at 184.98 mph to 8.801 at 103.98 mph, ending her chance for a fourth consecutive event win. This was one of the slowest Pro Stock final round performances in nearly 20 years, but a win is a win, as it allowed Stanfield to gain a few points in the points race. Enders still has the overall lead over Stanfield, Kyle Koretsky, Dallas Glenn and Greg Anderson.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, it came down to who red-lighted by the smallest margin. In the NHRA rule book it says first or worst. In this case Angelle Sampey red-lighted (fouled out) first with a -0.052 reaction time. Jerry Savoie had a -0.010 reaction time (negative being the amount too early). There were no other disqualifying conditions involved. Savoie claimed the win with a 6.929 at 194.30 mph to (quicker) 6.909 at 182.18 mph effort. The win for Savoie moved him to eighth in the point standings. Steve Johnson leads the points race over Karen Stoffer, Matt Smith, Angie Smith and Sampey.

622 wilkerson
Though he ran a hard race, Tim Wilkerson had to settle for a second place finish in Tennessee, behind Ron Capps in the Funny Car category during the NHRA weekend competition. Photo By Jeff Burghardt