Hight, Dixon And Edwards Win Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
Robert Hight raced to his fourth Funny Car victory of the season Sunday and in the process set the national speed record at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers.
Larry Dixon (Top Fuel) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) also were winners at Bristol Dragway in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
Hight gained momentum with a consistent string of powerful runs throughout the rain-delayed day of racing and finished off final-round opponent Jack Beckman with another strong run in his Auto Club Ford Mustang. Hight powered to a 4.092-second run at 314.90 mph while Beckman trailed with a 5.615 at 152.66 in his Aaron’s/Valvoline Dodge Charger. Hight’s final-round speed certified his earlier performance of 316.45 as the national record.
Hight defeated Ron Capps, teammate and series leader Mike Neff and Jeff Arend en route to the final round.
“We finally got Bristol, how about that?” said Hight of his 22nd victory. “I’ve had trouble with all the races that start with 'B' like Bristol or Brainerd, but we got this one. There’s nothing better than to win this race since it’s now Ford-sponsored. We made eight great runs, and when we needed it the most, Jimmy [Prock, crew chief] pulled it off. I’ve never set any kind of a record before, so that’s pretty cool, too. I know there are no points for a speed record, but it’s still cool to have.”
Despite his second-round exit, Neff maintained his series lead, with runner-up Beckman moving to second and Hight remaining in third.
In Top Fuel, Dixon claimed his first win of the season and his sixth Father’s Day victory by outrunning Antron Brown in the final round. Dixon took his 61st victory and second at Bristol Dragway with a 3.836 at 318.09 in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to finish just in front of the hard-charging Brown, who posted a 3.851 at 306.19 in his Matco Tools dragster.
“Great job by the team, for one,” said Dixon, who beat Rod Fuller, Morgan Lucas and Spencer Massey in the first three rounds. “Since the beginning of the year, even last year, I think we've had a great car, but for one reason or another, we haven't been able to get to the winner's circle and last [race], that was all on me. This weekend, it's Father’s Day. It's unbelievable from that standpoint. It's been so long I don't even think this tower was built the last time I won at Bristol. I'm very elated. I'm really, really happy.”
With the win, defending world champ Dixon moved into second place in the standings, 31 points behind series leader Del Worsham, Dixon’s teammate who lost in the quarterfinals to Massey.
Edwards claimed his third consecutive Bristol Dragway win and 30th of his career and in the process denied Erica Enders a milestone victory as she tried to become the first woman to win in the history of the 41-year-old factory hot rod category. Enders left the starting line first in her ZaZa Energy Chevy Cobalt, but the car lost power near midtrack while Edwards sped down the track to finish in 6.685 at 205.79 in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP.
“We made some ugly runs, and somehow we were able to turn the win light on,” said Edwards of his second win of the season. “Some days, no matter how bad you do, you still win. That’s the kind of day we had today. Congrats to my team. They fought hard. This car has given us so many headaches. I hope we can build on this. We have the K&N Horsepower Challenge next week, so hopefully we can build off of this and something good will happen.”
Edwards moved to second in the series standings with the victory and trails Jason Line by 24 points.
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series continues June 23-26 with the fifth annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.