Courtney won the season-opening race in Pomona and currently is seventh in points, while Brittany has earned three round wins in what has already been a successful rookie season in her Castrol Edge Top Fuel dragster.
“I always have enjoyed racing at Bristol on Father’s Day,” Force said. “I am lucky I get to be with some of my kids at the race track. I have even been able to spend time with my grandkids. When they were growing up I missed a lot of Father’s Days and now I am thankful I get to spend time with them. It has been awesome these past years. One thing I love is seeing all the families riding in the back of the Ford trucks during opening ceremonies and all the families in the grandstands. Bristol Dragway goes the extra mile to make it a fun weekend for the families.”
He says of all his victories at Thunder Valley, the one he cherishes most happened back in 1999, during a unique NHRA all-star event held at the track when he “beat the dragsters.”
“My favorite memory from Bristol Dragway is when I won the Top Fuel versus Funny Car race,” Force said. “I beat Bob Vandergriff Jr. in the final and it was a big payday. The biggest in the history of the sport. I didn’t get to share that win with my kids though. I just love being at Bristol when you hear the roar of the hot rods bouncing off the mountains. It is a great place to race.”
All of the stars of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will be competing for a victory on Father’s Day weekend at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, including seven-time Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher, who has won five times at Bristol Dragway and broke a 32-race winless drought with his win at the storied track last year. Challenging Schumacher will be a number of championship contenders, including points leader Shawn Langdon, who became the first driver in the class to pick up three wins this season. Other standouts include defending world champ Antron Brown, Spencer Massey, Vandergriff and veteran driver Doug Kalitta.
In Funny Car, the most recent event winner and current points leader Matt Hagan, a cattle rancher from nearby Christiansburg, Va., will be looking for his third event win in 2013 and his first-ever victory in Bristol. But it won’t be easy against a host of top competitors, including the three John Force Racing Ford Mustangs, Johnny Gray, who has three wins in his 2013 retirement tour, Cruz Pedregon, defending event winner Capps, Robert Hight, Del Worsham and defending world champ Jack Beckman, among others.
In Pro Stock, red-hot points leader Mike Edwards, a four-time defending event winner in Bristol, will try to keep his streak going at this event. Edwards enters the race with three event victories and eight No. 1 qualifying positions this season at the controls of his Interstate Batteries/I Am Second Chevy Camaro.
Local favorite Allen Johnson, the defending Pro Stock world champ who drives the Team Mopar Dodge Avenger, is hoping this is the year he wins a race at Thunder Valley in front of his family and friends after losing the 2012 finals to Edwards in what ended up being the closest race of the NHRA season. Along with Jeg Coughlin, who is currently second in points, others to watch in Pro Stock include Erica Enders-Stevens, Shane Gray, Greg Anderson, Jason Line and Vincent Nobile.