Looking for his first win of the season, four-time defending Top Fuel world champ Steve Torrence started his weekend at Bristol Dragway on the right note, taking the provisional No. 1 qualifier on Friday at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.
Robert Hight (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also the provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the ninth of 22 races during the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
Torrence put together a run of 3.791s at 317.79mph in his Capco Contractors dragster, which has him on track for his second straight No. 1 spot this year and 34th in his career. The Texan is more focused on victories, especially after a stunning upset in the first round at the most recent race in Epping, where he also qualified No. 1.
“To come here and make a good run right off the trailer — that was a good run to get the ball rolling and give us some momentum heading into race day,” Torrence said. “Tomorrow will be a totally different day, so we’ll see where we go from there, but that was a good, stout pass to go to the No. 1 spot.”
Josh Hart matched Torrence on time and was just slightly behind on speed, going 316.60mph to put him second after Friday. Antron Brown, looking for his first victory of the season, is third with a run of 3.802s at 323.35mph.
Hight was the lone driver to make a three-second run in Funny Car on Friday, powering to the top with a run of 3.971s at 310.98mph in his Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS. It continues an impressive stretch for Hight, who has three victories this season and is seeking his second No. 1 qualifier this year. It would also be the 73rd top spot for Hight, who continues to battle it out with points leader Matt Hagan. Each driver has three wins this season and Hight starred out of the gates on Friday.
“[Crew chief] Jimmy [Prock] made a lot of adjustments right before we ran. We thought it was going to run a little better than that and I had to drive it a lot,” Hight said. “The 3.97s is not going to hold, no matter what tomorrow. By the time we run tomorrow, I think we could run low 3.90s. That’s what it’s going to take to be No. 1. It’s mission accomplished today and we’ll take No. 1 today.”
Jim Campbell is currently in the second spot with a run of 4.080s at 306.19mph, while Hagan went 4.172s at 235.23mph during Friday’s lone qualifying session.
Looking for his 100th career win, Pro Stock’s Anderson started out on the right note, going 6.686s at 202.21mph in his HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro to take the provisional No. 1 spot. If it holds, it would be the first top position this year for the defending world champ. More importantly, it puts him on track for a great weekend, which Anderson hopes ends with a monumental 100th victory at a track where he picked up his first career win. It’s also Pro Stock’s first appearance in Bristol since 2018.
“You have to get that data and you can’t lose runs out here,” Anderson said. “That was a quality run and it’s encouraging. We’ve been working very hard. Yes, we’ve gotten off to a slow start, but we’re coming, and I think we’re very close to finding our way to the winner’s circle again. I feel like we’re getting closer, and we’ve got a legitimate shot at getting the win. We’ve got that first piece of the puzzle and it’s a great start, and I love racing at Bristol.”
Aaron Stanfield is currently second with a 6.701s at 204.08mph, and Kyle Koretsky is third after going 6.701s at 201.70mph. Points leader Erica Enders, who has won three straight races, is currently 10th.
Sampey picked up where she left a year ago in Bristol in Pro Stock Motorcycle, going straight to No. 1 with her run of 6.966s at 185.38mph on her Vance & Hines/Mission Foods Suzuki. Sampey won the event in Thunder Valley a year ago and again looked strong on Friday as she looks to stay perfect in Bristol. Last year’s Pro Stock Motorcycle race was the first for the category at the picturesque facility.
“I’m very excited to come back to this track,” Sampey said. “Last year, winning here taught me a lesson to not really worry about things. I realize that I have to stop and enjoy the ride. I’m so excited to get to this track because I won last year, and I want to win it again. I know [we have] a bike that can win and it’s fun to get the No. 1 spot. We’ll see what we’ve got tomorrow, but I’m very confident and comfortable on the bike.”
Teammate Eddie Krawiec took the second spot thanks to his pass of 6.968s at 191.97mph and Angie Smith took third on Friday with her run of 193.49mph.
Qualifying continues at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.