NHRA’s very busy consecutive mid-season schedule run of events continued with it’s annual stop at fabled Thunder Valley in Tennessee…

Californian Ron Capps grabbed some more notoriety when broke a tie with John Force to become the winningest Funny Car driver in Bristol Dragway history. His fifth career victory there came on Father’s Day Sunday during the Fitzgerald USA NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.

Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) were also victorious in their respective categories at the 11th of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Capps secured his first victory of the season and 59th of his career with a 4.234-second pass at 296.37 mph in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T, defeating Bob Tasca III in the finals. He has now earned back-to-back victories at Bristol Dragway as the 2016 Funny Car world champion also secured Don Schumacher Racing’s 300th career nitro victory.

“This is a great facility, and when you roll into this place you get a special feeling,” Capps said. “Getting to the Winner’s Circle at a track like this is even more special, because you feel like you really had to earn it, and this weekend I am proud of what my team accomplished in some tough conditions.”

For now the fifth time in his career – Ron Capps prevailed in fuel FC racing at Bristol.

Capps qualified 11th for the event before defeating John Force, defending Funny Car world champion Robert Hight and J.R. Todd on his path to Winner’s Circle.

Tasca qualified fourth and bested Tim Wilkerson, Cruz Pedregon and points leader Courtney Force as he reached his first final round since Seattle 2013.

Schumacher powered to victory with a run of 3.946 at 313.58 in his U.S. Army dragster to take down Mike Salinas in the final round. This was Schumacher’s third final round of the season and the 150th of his career, as he now has six career victories in Bristol in eight career final rounds at the legendary facility.

“We have had little things bite us this season, but we knew we had to overcome adversity and we knew we had a great car that was capable of winning,” Schumacher said. “I’m proud of my team for sticking to our plan, and I know our team is going to be a factor for the rest of the season.”

Tony Schumacher appeared in his 150th career NHRA final round – and made good on that – with his 84th event win!

Schumacher qualified second and defeated Terry McMillen, Pat Dakin and points leader Steve Torrence on his way to victory.

Salinas qualified eighth and took down Leah Pritchett, No. 1 qualifier Clay Millican and Scott Palmer as he secured the first runner-up finish of his career.

Independent racer Mike Salinas (from northern California) was a surprising Top Fuel finalist.

Coughlin Jr. brought home his second Bristol Pro Stock victory after driving to a 6.709 at 205.10 in his JEGS.com/Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro to take down points leader Greg Anderson in the final round. Coughlin Jr. became the third driver in the class to earn two victories on the season.

“My team has made some transitions this season and now we are running much faster, and it feels pretty great to be on the right track now this season,” said Coughlin Jr., who dedicated the Father’s Day victory to his dad Jeg Coughlin Sr., an NHRA professional competitor in the 1970s. “Winning at Thunder Valley is historic and it feels fantastic, so to be crowned a champion here is really special.”

Jeg Coughlin is getting hot in NHRA Pro Stock – he won at Bristol in the Jegs Mail Order Chevrolet — for Jeg it was his 60th career NHRA title.

Coughlin Jr. qualified second and defeated Tommy Lee, Chris McGaha and Drew Skillman as he earned his second win in the past three events.
Anderson now has two runner-up finishes on the year as he continues to chase his first win of the 2018 season.

A Tii at the Top!

NHRA’s dynamic Top Fuel Harley class (which is presented by M/T Tires and Wheels) resumed it’s season action with a very feisty affair which attracted 16 entries for the 8-bike qualified field at Bristol.

North Carolina’s Tii Tharpe emerged victorious in that division when he ran a final round time of 6.491 secs at 220.33 mph to defeat Doug Vancil who had a red-light start.

North Carolina’s Tii Tharpe prevailed in the M/T Top Fuel Harley class.

Tharpe’s win was his 3rd of the season and the 5th of his NHRA racing career. He had qualified #4 (also with a 6.491 secs) and defeated Dennis Fisher and Beau Layne in earlier rounds.

E3 Spark Plugs Excellence

Middle-eastern based skilled driver Khalid AlBalooshi drove to his first victory since 2015 during the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series (presented by J&A Service) event portion. This weekend’s Pro Mod racing, presented by Elite Motorsports, was the sixth of 12 events this season.

AlBalooshi used a 5.924-second pass at 247.38 mph in his Bahrain ‘17 Chevy Camaro to take down Todd Tutterow in the finals.

“I’ve been thinking about retiring recently and wondering if I could still compete in this class, but finally I got a win again and it feels amazing,” AlBalooshi said. “I just came out here and had fun and this is definitely a good way to get some momentum heading into the rest of the season.”

Khalid AlBalooshi earned a relieving win in the demanding Pro Mod class.

Tutterow notched his first final round of the appearance of 2018 as his 5.948 at 242.10 was not enough to defeat AlBalooshi.

With his win AlBalooshi, who qualified #7 for the 16-car field, jumped up to third in the Pro Mod standings with the victory, while Tutterow now sits in eighth.

Mike Janis, who won the previous weekend at Richmond VA., retained his overall points lead in the class with a semifinal exit in Bristol.

Editor’s Note:  For more details on Pro Mod class racing at Bristol – visit DragRaceCanada’s VP Racing Fuels Pro Mod Portal subsection: HERE

The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service continues — next weekend when races head north to Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio (June 21-24).

The Lucas Oil Lowdown

Lucas Oil Sportsman class racing featured a first for the SAM Factory Stock Showdown (FS/XX) when Joseph Welch raced to victory to lead the list of winners. Welch became the first Mopar driver to win within that tour, driving his Dodge DragPack Challenger.

Eddie Longhany Jr. and Aaron Stanfield joined Welch as they took home wins in Stock Eliminator and Top Dragster presented by Racing RV’s respectively along with Scott Stillings, Tyler Caheely, Steve Furr and Jeff Brooks who also won this weekend.

Welch ran consistent 8.20’s through most of eliminations with an 8.275 second lap at 164.67 mph in the final of the School of Automotive Machinists Factory Stock Showdown in beating Arthur Kohn who left early with a red-light foul start. The win was Welch’s first in his first final round at the NHRA national event level.

Joe Welch made some FS/XX class history – becoming the first Mopar to win in the Factory Stock Showdown event.

Longhany meet up with former NHRA Lucas Oil World Champion Joe Santangelo in the Stock Final which proved to be one of the closest finals of the day. Longhany was out first and ran 10.698, 118.70 which held off Santangelo’s 10.686, 113.69 by about 9 inches.

The Super Stock title was won by Scott Stillings (far lane) who defeated Eddie Longhany Jr.

Defending event champion Stanfield went dead-on his dial at 6.320 seconds at 217.84 mph in defeating Joe Fisher and his Racing RV’s sponsored Top Dragster. Fisher gave Stanfield a run at 6.498, 197.54.

In Top Sportsman presented by Racing RV’s it was Jeff Brooks taking the holeshot forcing Royce Freeman to break out as Brooks pick up his third win with a lap of 6.720, 206.29.

Jeff Brooks rode his fan favourite “Henry J” to a popular win in Top Sportsman

Other Lucas Oil Series winners were Stillings who was out first and held off Ed Longhany Sr. in Stock Eliminator while Furr took home his seventh win in holding off Ray Miller III in Super Gas. Caheely was better at both ends of the track to put Jacob Elrod on the trailer in Super Comp.

Ray Miller’s show stopping Chevy Camaro went to the S/G championship round.

Posted with files by BMS & NHRA Communications and Bruce Biegler
Photos by Luke Nieuwhof (www.DragNews.com.au) & Auto Imagery