Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) nailed their first victories of the NHRA season after winning Bristol Dragway’s Fitzgerald USA NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.
Capps’ 59th career win was a result of a 4.234sec run at 296.37mph in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T, taking down 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.”
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 the Winner’s Circle with a run of 3.946-seconds at 313.58 mph 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 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.”
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 who nonetheless secured the first runner-up finish of his career.
Coughlin Jr. brought home the 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 this season.
“My team has made some transitions and now we are running much faster, and it feels pretty great to be on the right track now,” Coughlin Jr. said. “Winning at Thunder Valley is historic and it feels fantastic, so to be crowned a champion here is really special.”
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 and continues to chase his first win of 2018.
Finish order at the 18th annual Fitzgerald USA NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway
TOP FUEL: 1. Tony Schumacher; 2. Mike Salinas; 3. Steve Torrence; 4. Scott Palmer; 5. Pat Dakin; 6. Doug Kalitta; 7. Antron Brown; 8. Clay Millican; 9. Brittany Force; 10. Leah Pritchett; 11. Shawn Reed; 12. Richie Crampton; 13. Dom Lagana; 14. Bill Litton; 15. Terry Totten; 16. Terry McMillen.
Final: Tony Schumacher, 3.946 seconds, 313.58 mph def. Mike Salinas, 5.251 seconds, 152.18 mph.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Ron Capps; 2. Bob Tasca III; 3. Courtney Force; 4. J.R. Todd; 5. Robert Hight; 6. Jack Beckman; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 8. Cruz Pedregon; 9. Tim Wilkerson; 10. Del Worsham; 11. Jonnie Lindberg; 12. Shawn Langdon; 13. Jim Campbell; 14. Matt Hagan; 15. John Force; 16. Jeff Diehl.
Final: Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.234, 296.37 def. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.300, 286.98.
PRO STOCK: 1. Jeg Coughlin; 2. Greg Anderson; 3. Tanner Gray; 4. Drew Skillman; 5. Erica Enders; 6. Vincent Nobile; 7. Tim Freeman; 8. Chris McGaha; 9. Jason Line; 10. Bo Butner; 11. Alex Laughlin; 12. John Gaydosh Jr; 13. Wally Stroupe; 14. Alan Prusiensky; 15. Deric Kramer; 16. Tommy Lee.
Final: Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.709, 205.10 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.741, 205.07.
Point standings after 11 of 24 events in the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
Top Fuel: 1. Steve Torrence, 896; 2. Clay Millican, 786; 3. Tony Schumacher, 760; 4. Doug Kalitta, 717; 5. Leah Pritchett, 663; 6. Antron Brown, 588; 7. (tie) Brittany Force, 552; Terry McMillen, 552; 9. Scott Palmer, 461; 10. Mike Salinas, 421.
Funny Car: 1. Courtney Force, 937; 2. Jack Beckman, 736; 3. Robert Hight, 717; 4. J.R. Todd, 694; 5. Ron Capps, 693; 6. Matt Hagan, 669; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., 606; 8. Cruz Pedregon, 508; 9. John Force, 502; 10. Bob Tasca III, 500.
Pro Stock: 1. Greg Anderson, 823; 2. Tanner Gray, 768; 3. Vincent Nobile, 758; 4. Erica Enders, 738; 5. Drew Skillman, 679; 6. Jeg Coughlin, 671; 7. Chris McGaha, 659; 8. Bo Butner, 642; 9. Deric Kramer, 627; 10. Jason Line, 569.