Five things we learned at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
Ron Caps It’s been around long enough that it doesn’t need a motivational lesson, but in this rare case, the staff at NHRA.com was happy to provide one. After Epping’s race, Capps was a bit irritated that the Funny Car points battle had become a two-horse race between Matt Hagan and Robert Hight.
Rather than complain about it on his social media or shed a tear over the beer and hot wings, he decided to do something about it. Intending to prove his point, the defending champion traveled to Bristol where his NAPA Toyota team held a hot-weather Funny Car racing clinic. Capps was the only driver to race in threes on Sunday and took the first victory for the new Toyota GR Supra body with his victory in the final over Tim Wilkerson. In the process, he significantly narrowed the gap between himself and the new rulers. Yes, it is now a three-horse race.
Erica Enders was about two gear changes away from his fifth victory in seven events this season, but his Melling/Elite Camaro’s engine had other ideas. The finale should have been over when Aaron Stanfield shook the tires, but after Enders’ car started belching volumes of white smoke, Stanfield was quick to get back on the gas and raced into one of the Craziest Pro Stock Finals we’ve seen in a while.
Maybe a mechanical breakdown is the only way Enders can lose a race right now. She’s 19-3 in the playoffs this season and has built an 83-point lead over second-placed Stanfield and a 209-point bulge over third-placed Kyle Koretsky. How many races will she win this year? It’s hard to say, but if you handicapped your odds, 10 would seem like a good number.
Despite winning Indy 2020, Shawn Langdon admittedly had a difficult few years at Kalitta Motorsports, but the tide seems to be turning in his favour. If nothing else, Langdon’s performance at Bristol reminded us just how good he can be and how he can adapt to almost any situation.
Langdon made one of his rare Super Comp appearances at Bristol and collected a last lap win over fellow world champion and incoming points leader John Labbous Jr. Nothing about 8.90 class racing comes easy, especially when Labbous is involved. Langdon then made it to the Top Fuel finale, where tire smoke prevented what could have been a storybook ending.
If you were to make a list of the things you would need to win the Camping World Top Fuel title, they would definitely include a driver who leaves the start line on time and keeps the car on the pace as well as tuners that can sway. adapt to races in hot and cool weather. At this point, it looks like the Davis Motorsports Top Fuel team has those items and put them to good use.
Justin Ashley won the season opener at Pomona in February and he scored again at Bristol, which are two completely different venues. Ashley’s Phillips Connect dragster can run 3.6 seconds when conditions allow and its reaction times have been largely consistent. The team doesn’t interrupt many races either, which explains why they are only 52 points from first place.
Admit it, unless you follow the Pro Stock Motorcycle class closely, you’ve probably never heard of it. Marc Ingwerson, but he’s worth a look as he almost made it to the final in Bristol, and that wasn’t by chance. Ingwersen was well ahead of Angelle Sampey in the semis when he suffered a mechanical problem and slowed down. He probably would have given Jerry Savoie a fair fight if he made it to the final
Ingwersen, based in Ohio, has competed in NHRA events on and off for the past few seasons but had never won a playoff round until this season. That changed in Gainesville where he upset three-time world champion Angelle Sampey in the first round. At this event, Ingwersen also rode his Buckeye HD with a personal elapsed time of 6.84. After back-to-back semi-finals in Richmond and Bristol, he moved up to 9th in the standings.