Early Sportsman Notes from Bristol Dragway

The 20th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals are off to a fine start at the pristine, picturesque facility cut into the mountains of Eastern Tennessee. Friday at Bristol Dragway was a Sportsman racing extravaganza as competitors in five categories completed time trials and qualifying, then hustled to complete two rounds of eliminations. As is often true in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, the lever was set to max in terms of the entertainment factor. If you missed the action today, here are a few highlights.

Lauren Freer, Super Comp (Photo: Auto Imagery)

Channeling 2007?
Lauren Freer, who claimed the first win of her career in Super Comp at Bristol Dragway in 2007, used the first round at this year’s rendition of the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals to ink her determination to repeat on the first page of this weekend’s story.

Freer opened with a wide-awake .001 reaction time in her first-round meeting with Trene Cressonie (who was right there with a .002), then tied the round win up with a neat little bow as she clocked an 8.905 to her opponent’s breakout 8.883.


Phil Roush and his Super Gas Monza (Photo: Auto Imagery)

Hey, Good Lookin’
Phil Roush, of Youngstown, Florida, ran right on the 9.90 index in his very cool ’79 Monza during the first round of eliminations at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. It’s always fun to see that 9.900 on the scoreboard, and it’s extra entertaining when it flashes over an unusual entry like this one.


Wendy Caliendo, Super Stock (Photo: Auto Imagery)

On the Money
A round win for Newburgh, New York’s Wendy Caliendo today at Bristol Dragway came by way of an expert 11.807 on her 11.80 dial in that SS/KA ’98 Firebird. She had good company in the accomplishment. Also dead-on* in the first round of Super Stock:

Bryan Worner
Byron Worner
Jeff Dona
Greg Stanfield

*Ronnie Courtney ran precisely on his dial-in but did not advance due to Bryan Worner’s better reaction time and equally precise pass


Brothers Byron and Bryan Worner in Epping 2017 (Photo: Auto Imagery)

Cut from the same Cloth
The image you see above shows the Worner and Sons Racing team following Byron’s win over Bryan in the New England Nationals Super Stock final in 2017.

They’re giving the competition the usual hell over there at Bristol Dragway this weekend as they compete in NHRA’s Thunder Valley Nationals. In the first round of eliminations, the Worner brothers were “twinning” with dead-on victories over their respective opponents.


Greg Slack, Top Dragster (Photo: Auto Imagery)

A Neat Note
In case you were wondering (or even if you weren’t), that’s Albemarle, North Carolina-based Greg Slack in the photo above piloting his Top Dragster, which is uniquely and efficiently powered by a turbo charged 5.2 liter Coyote.


Mike Rover in his Stock Eliminator ’71 Challenger (Photo: Auto Imagery)

The Cruel Hand of (Racing) Fate
Merritt Island, Florida’s Matt Rover was a near-perfect .001 on the tree in the first round of Stock Eliminator, but Thunder Valley was unkind to the Right Trailers B/SA ’71 Challenger campaigner as Anthony Fetch was .002 and ran 10.306 on a 10.26 dial to defeat a 10.730 (10.68).

Rover wasn’t alone in his early exit misery, though: Tex Miller was .001 in his E/SA ’72 Mustang and broke out by .006 to give it back.


Mike Robilotto, Super Comp (Photo: Auto Imagery)

So Much Perfection
Mike Robilotto (shown) was one of two drivers to cross the finish line with a perfect 8.900 on the 8.90 index in the second round of Super Comp at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. Robilotto’s .005 reaction time was nearly as impressive as his ideal pass.

Laureen Freer, though, couldn’t leave well enough alone (see her note at the top of this story) and also accomplished the feat, racing her Super Comp rail to a glowing 8.900 but pairing it with a .001 launch.

It isn’t easy to make a run that identically matches what you’re aiming for, but the Super Comp crowd almost made it look easy today. Jack Sepanek grabbed his own little piece of perfection with an 8.900 that same round.

Eliminations will continue on Saturday at Bristol Dragway, so tune in to NHRA.tv and follow along at DragRaceCentral.com for detailed results.

Follow @winlightnews on Instagram for more notes like this.

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