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NHRA Roars Into Bristol Dragway for Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals

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The NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series returns to Thunder Valley for another year of intense racing action at the 23rd annual Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway on June 7-9.

A highlight on the NHRA circuit, all the stars in the NHRA are thrilled to return to Bristol Dragway for one of the most scenic and memorable events on the NHRA tour. It is the eighth of 20 events during the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season and will again feature competition in the four professional categories: Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle.

All the thrilling sights and sounds of 11,000-horsepower, 330-mph action is taken to an incredible, can’t-miss level in Thunder Valley, where fans will be treated to an epic weekend loaded with action. From four rounds of qualifying, including a spectacular night session on Friday night, to the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge on Saturday and eliminations on Sunday, there’s something for every racing fan in Bristol.

Justin Ashley (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Steve Johnson (Pro Stock Motorcycle) took home titles in 2023 in picturesque Thunder Valley and this year’s race will again be broadcast on FS1, including eliminations beginning at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 9.

Ashley had a memorial weekend in Bristol last year in the Top Fuel ranks. When the rain-delayed NHRA New England Nationals had to be contested in Bristol, Ashley not only claimed the Epping title on Saturday, he also went on to win the Bristol race. He’s the Top Fuel points leader with two event wins to his credit, but hot on his heels is a loaded field, including reigning champion Doug Kalitta, Shawn Langdon also with two wins this season, and the Capco duo of Steve and Billy Torrence. Fans can also watch NASCAR legend Tony Stewart’s Bristol Top Fuel debut as well.

Capps claimed his second consecutive Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals last season when he defeated Alexis DeJoria in the final round. Capps is the winningest Funny Car driver at Bristol Dragway with six wins to his credit. If he wants to go three in a row, he’ll be up against the likes of points leader Austin Prock who joined the Funny Car ranks this season, Gainesville winner J.R. Todd, reigning champ Matt Hagan, Bob Tasca and John Force, who each have wins on the season.

Enders, the reigning Pro Stock world champ, didn’t claim an event win until Bristol last year. The Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals was the turning point in her season in 2023, where she went on to win her sixth Pro Stock title. With a win in Gainesville, she’s in the hunt again this season. Leading the points and Enders’ longtime rival is Greg Anderson, with two wins in 2024. Also in the Pro Stock mix is Dallas Glenn, Jeg Coughlin Jr., Aaron Stanfield and Cristian Cuadra.

Johnson, a veteran within the Pro Stock Motorcycle class, was one of only four race winners in 2023. He claimed his win over Gaige Herrera, who went red in the final. Herrera, who won 11 events last year, went on to win the title in dominant fashion and is undefeated thus far in 2024. Johnson is only the third motorcycle rider to win at Bristol Dragway as the class was added to the Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in 2021. Other contenders include six-time champion Matt Smith, former champ LE Tonglet, John Hall, Hector Arana Jr. and Angie Smith.

Also on deck is the fan-favorite Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge on Saturday. Semifinalists from the NHRA New England Nationals, will meet up in Bristol for a specialty race rematch with the winners taking home bonus points and a bonus purse.

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The Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, featuring some of the top racers in the country, as well as the Congruity NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by LearnEV+, Flexjet NHRA Factory Stock Showdown and Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage Mountain Motor Pro Stock. The weekend includes an appearance from the Legends Nostalgia Nitro Funny Cars as well. After final qualifying on Saturday, fans will also be treated to a special autograph session and fanfest at the Bristol Dragway Welcome Tent in the midway.

Fans will also be invited to the Nitro Alley Stage all weekend, which features Nitro School, meet and greets, music and much more. Race fans at Bristol Dragway can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies that celebrates each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the fan favorite SealMaster Track Walk. The final can’t-miss experience is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes, where fans are invited to congratulate the Bristol event winners.

As always, fans also get an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet in Bristol. They can see teams in action and service their hot rods between rounds, get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers, and more. Fans can also visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create an exciting atmosphere that includes interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food, and fun for the entire family.

NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4 and 6:45 p.m. ET on Friday, June 7, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, June 8 at 12:30 and 3:15 p.m. Eliminations will begin at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 9. Television coverage includes qualifying action at 7 p.m. ET on Friday and 12:30 p.m. on Sunday on FS1, leading into eliminations coverage at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday.

To purchase tickets to the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, fans can visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. For more information on NHRA, please visit www.NHRA.com.

This story was originally published on May 13, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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Since 2005, DI has informed, inspired and educated drag racers from every walk of the racing life - weekend warrior and street/strip enthusiasts to pro-level doorslammer and Top Fuel racers. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-worthy videos to electric live events, DI meets hundreds of thousands of racers where they live, creating the moments that create conversations.