WCYB's Casey Goetz earns media bragging rights with NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Media Challenge win
WCYB TV 5 sports director Casey Goetz earned drag racing bragging rights for regional journalists Wednesday at Bristol Dragway by claiming victory in the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Media Challenge. In this year's competition, journalists competed head-to-head for quick reaction times utilizing an NHRA Pro Practice Tree.
The event provided local media members with a hands-on preview of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event that will visit Bristol Dragway Father's Day weekend, June 14-16.
The media was assisted by NHRA Top Fuel rookie driver Austin Prock, driver of the Montana Brand/Rocky Mountain Twist dragster owned by John Force Racing. The Journalists competed in a format of best three out of five attempts on the Practice Tree in each head-to-head pairing.
To earn his second victory in the Media Challenge, Goetz defeated WJHL videographer Doug Counts in a highly-anticipated final between the Tri-Cities' premier television stations. It is the third consecutive year that a journalist from WCYB has earned the victory in this competition as WCYB news anchor P.J. Johnson claimed the win last year. Goetz also won in 2017.
In earlier rounds Goetz defeated FasTrack Magazine's Drew Hierwarter, WJHL's Kenny Hawkins and Augusta Free Press's Rod Mullins. Counts advanced to the final with wins over Joe Castello of WFO Radio and Heather Williams of WCYB TV.
In the dramatic Media Challenge final round, which featured a best five of nine attempts on the Practice Tree, Goetz trailed with an early 0-2 deficit after Counts reeled off two stellar times. Goetz then rallied to click off three straight reaction time wins in the third, fourth and fifth attempts, including a near-perfect .007 on his second try. Feeling desperate to stop Goetz's burst of consistent times, Counts pushed the tree in the final two attempts and went red both times, while Goetz posted efforts of .010 and .067 to take the winner's plaque.
Other media members who competed in the 12-participant field included Dave Dobson from Masters Entertainment Group, Jesse Krull from WJHL TV and Allen Gregory of the Bristol Herald-Courier. Goetz and Counts were presented custom plaques for their efforts by Prock, as was Castello, who earned the award for quickest reaction time of the event with a perfect .000 in his first round win over Gregory.
During the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they're granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
In addition to Prock, fans will have the opportunity to meet John Force, Ron Capps, Robert Hight, Brittany Force, Steve Torrence, Antron Brown, Cruz Pedregon, Leah Pritchett, Virginia cattle rancher Matt Hagan and 2017 Bristol Top Fuel winner and native Tennessean Clay Millican. The race also will feature side-by-side racing in the fan-favorite Pro Mod and Top Fuel Harley classes. Bristol also will feature NHRA Mountain Motor Pro Stock exhibition racing for the first time.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA's popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Fans also don't want to miss Thunder Valley's traditional Saturday evening FanFest, one of the biggest driver autograph sessions on the NHRA circuit that takes place in the pits 30 minutes after the final pro qualifying session. Bristol Dragway officials also will induct the latest honoree of the prestigious Thunder Valley Legends.
Mello Yello Series qualifying for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals begins Friday, June 14 with Top Fuel and Funny Car sessions at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. The final two rounds of nitro qualifying are set for Saturday, June 15, at 1 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for noon on Sunday, June 16.
The race will be televised on FS1, with a one-hour live qualifying show on Friday at 7:30 p.m. (ET), a 90-minute Saturday show at 10:30 p.m. (ET) and a three-hour Sunday show that includes live semis and finals, starting at 2 p.m. (ET).
Enough with the multi-colored neck ties and fancy pocket protectors, there's still time to purchase tickets and give your Dad an unforgettable Father's Day weekend experience. Weekend packages begin at just $84 while single-day Friday and Sunday tickets start as low as $35 for adults. Saturday adult tickets start at $50. Kids tickets are free with a paid adult.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call Bristol Dragway at (423) 989-6900. Tickets also are available online at www.bristoldragway.com and can be purchased in the Tri-Cities region at any Food City grocery store.