NHRA Drag Racing Series Powers Into Thunder Valley On New Date For 2023 Season
Story By: NHRA – BRISTOL, TN – On a new date and with a full lineup that includes all four NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series professional classes and four qualifying sessions, the NHRA roars into Bristol Dragway for the 22nd annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on June 9-11.
It is the eighth of 21 events during the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, as all the stars in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle are set to put on a memorable show at the fan-favorite facility.
The action-packed weekend includes two qualifying sessions on Friday, including a must-see night session, two more sessions on Saturday and final eliminations on Sunday. Plus, for the first time at Bristol Dragway, fans can enjoy the new Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge on Saturday.
Offering bonus money and bonus points, the challenge will feature the rematch of the semifinalists from the previous race, with the winners meeting up in the finals. It will make for a thrilling Saturday, leading right into eliminations on Sunday as drivers look to capture a Wally in Thunder Valley.
Justin Ashley (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of a race that will again be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) this year, including eliminations beginning at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 11.
Justin Ashley powered to his first Top Fuel win at Bristol a season ago and already has two victories this season. Everyone is chasing points leader Steve Torrence, the four-time champ who hopes to pick up his first victory this year in Bristol. Other marquee names in the star-studded field includes defending world champ Brittany Force, Austin Prock, Clay Millican, Doug Kalitta, Leah Pruett, Antron Brown and Tony Schumacher.
In Funny Car, Capps claimed a memorable victory last year, defeating Tim Wilkerson in the final round. It gave him six victories at Thunder Valley, tied for the most in NHRA history at the facility. The defending world champ will be racing for his first win in 2023 against a loaded field that includes points leader Matt Hagan, 16-time world champ John Force, Robert Hight, Alexis DeJoria, J.R. Todd, Cruz Pedregon and Bob Tasca III.
Stanfield picked up a memorable win in the Pro Stock final round over teammate and defending world champ Erica Enders last year, but both are after their first victory this season. Dallas Glenn currently has three victories to lead the class, while others to watch in Bristol include Charlotte winner Deric Kramer, Camrie Caruso, Troy Coughlin Jr., Bo Butner, five-time world champ Greg Anderson, Matt Hartford and Kyle Koretsky.
In just the second appearance by Pro Stock Motorcycle in Bristol, Savoie claimed the win a year ago, but Gaige Herrera has been unbeatable in 2023. The young phenom has won the first three races in 2023, qualifying No. 1 at every event. He’ll look to keep rolling against a top-tier field that includes defending world champ Matt Smith, Eddie Krawiec, Angie Smith, Joey Gladstone, rookie Chase Van Sant and Hector Arana Jr.
The 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 FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by Type A Motorsports and Flexjet NHRA Factory Stock Showdown. The weekend includes an appearance from the Legends Nostalgia Nitro Funny Cars as well. An autograph session will take place on Saturday at the Toyota Display with Toyota-sponsored drivers, as well as a special autograph session and fanfest at the Bristol Dragway Welcome Tent in the midway immediately following final qualifying.
Fans will also be invited all weekend long to the Nitro Alley Stage, which will help create a festive atmosphere leading into the nitro pits. The Nitro Alley Stage will be the main entertainment hub in the pits when the Camping World Drag Racing Series competitors are not on the track, hosting Nitro School, meet and greets, music and much more.
Race fans at Bristol Dragway can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate 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 of any NHRA event 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. This opportunity gives fans a unique chance to 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 Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4 and 7 p.m. ET on Friday, June 9, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, June 10 at 1 and 4:30 p.m. Eliminations will begin at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 11. Television coverage includes qualifying action at 7 p.m. ET on Friday and 12:30 p.m. on Sunday on Fox Sports 1 (FS1), leading into eliminations coverage at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday at FS1.