Laughlin Nails a Perfect Light at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
Just below a mile high at 4,549 feet above sea level, the Thunder Valley track at Bristol Dragway crowned a first time winner in Top Fuel. Tennessee native Clay Millican laid down a 3.825 pass to post a top speed of 316.38 mph to defeat Leah Pritchett in Sunday's finals at the 17th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. Having made very few mistakes during the 2017 season, Pritchett nailed the start with a .058 RT to Millican's .095 RT but dropped a cylinder early in the run. At the line, Clay Millican had piloted the Great Clips/Parts Plus Top Fuel dragster to his first ever NHRA National win in his ninth final round appearance. The win moved Millican to seventh overall in the points championship. Pritchett holds on to second just eleven points behind points leader Steve Torrence.
So how do you run two miles per hour slower than last weekend's Funny Car winner and still win? If you're Ron Capps, you nail the start with a .026 RT to "Fast Jack" Beckman's .044 RT and lay claim to your 54th Wally in the NHRA's Funny Car division. A rematch of last weekend's final round where Beckman won at Englishtown, Capps grabbed the advantage off the line in Tennessee, but Beckman's hard charge made it ever so close with a 319.29 mph run to Capps's 317.05 winning speed. After choosing the E3 Spark Plugs left hand lane, this was Capps fifth win of the season in the NAPA Auto Parts Charger and 54th National win of his career in Funny Car (he also has one victory in Top Fuel). The win at Thunder Valley ties Capps with Funny Car legend John Force with four wins each at Bristol Dragway.
In Pro Stock, Alex Laughlin clinched his first win of the 2017 season with a perfect reaction time in the finals against Bo Butner. Piloting his Gas Monkey Energy Chevrolet Camaro to a 6.178 ET at 205.04 mph, Laughlin took home the second Wally of his career. In the Jim Butner's Auto Chevy Camaro, Bo had defeated two-time NHRA world champion Erica Enders before losing to Laughlin in the finals. In only his third event of the season, Laughlin posted a .000 RT for a perfect light and never trailed "Fast Jack" to line. Teams leave the high-altitude of the Tennessee mountains and head north for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Norwalk, Ohio, on June 22-25.