Salinas, DeJoria and Sampey Win at Pro Classes at Thunder Valley

Salinas, DeJoria and Sampey Win at Pro Classes at Thunder Valley

With NHRA World Championships hanging in the balance, Nitro class race teams rolled into Bristol Dragway for the 18th of the 20 race series for post-pandemic drag racing. Originally built close to the Bristol Motor Speedway in 1965, the track earned its name as “Thunder Valley” due to the resonating sounds created by the high-horsepower engines that power the Pro classes. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Bristol Dragway features a 3,800-foot drag strip with 700 feet of concrete at 1,475-feet of elevation.

Driving the Flav-R-Pac Top Fuel dragster, Brittany Force made the quickest run in track history at Bristol Dragway on Friday, powering to the provisional top qualifier with an impressive run of 3.682 ET. Mike Salinas followed with a blistering 3.668-second elapsed time at 329.83 mph in the opening round of qualifying on Saturday. Three-time defending World Champion Steve Torrence closed out Top Fuel qualifying at Bristol Dragway with an elapsed time of 3.667-seconds giving him his fourth Number One qualifier of the 2021 NHRA season and the thirty first of his career.

Steve Torrence Sets Quickest Run in Bristol History

But… Mike Salinas nailed the holeshot in his 11,000-horsepower Scrappers Racing dragster and picked up his second straight victory in Top Fuel at Bristol Dragway, once again beating points leader Steve Torrence in the final round. Torrence was denied his 50th class Wally when he immediately had problems with the run giving Salinas his third career victory.

As the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series heads west to The Strip at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, points leader Steve Torrence left the Thunder Valley Nationals having extended his lead over Brittany Force from 52 to 73 points in the Countdown to the Championship. Salinas essentially scored back-to-back wins due to double points at Bristol and heads west in fourth place overall behind Dallas winner Justin Ashley.

Alexis DeJoria Had Fastest Funny Car at Thunder Valley

On Friday, Tim Wilkerson driving his Levi, Ray & Shop Ford Shelby Mustang made the fastest pass in Nitro Funny Car, but his time did not hold. Top honors went to Alexis DeJoria in the Bandero Premium Tequila ROKiT Toyota Camry. Although JR Todd had a stellar day knocking off the top drivers, DeJoria had a near perfect reaction time of .002 seconds for a 3.921 ET at 327.66 mph to end Todd’s day.

Points leader Matt Hagan was upset in the opening round of eliminations and forfeited the lead to Ron Capps by six points. Unfortunately, Capps received a five-point penalty when his NAPA Dodge Charger crossed the centerline in his semi-final run As the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series heads west for the final two races, Capps enters the penultimate event with a one-point advantage.

Angelle Sampey Claimed Second Pro Stock Motorcycle Win

After a slow start to the Countdown, Matt Smith picked up where he left off in Dallas setting the first official race times for the class at Thunder Valley. But Smith was nipped by Karen Stoffer in the semifinal round of eliminations. Charlotte winner Angelle Sampey relied on a holeshot start in the Finals to beat Karen Stoffer’s quicker 6.760 ET to the finish line.

Women have now posted Pro Class wins at half of the eighteen NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series events. Sampey’s win was the tenth victory by a woman, and Alexis DeJoria became the sixth different woman to win, a list that also includes current drivers Erica Enders in Pro Stock, and Leah Pruett and Brittany Force in Top Fuel.

Photo Courtesy Dee Browning Shutterstock


Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals

The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series returns to action Oct. 29-31 with the Dodge//SRT NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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