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Top qualifying spots hold up at Thunder Valley

June 15th, 2013 9:14 pm by Jeff Birchfield

Top qualifying spots hold up at Thunder Valley

BRISTOL — All the fast times set in ideal conditions on Friday night held up in Saturday qualifying for the Ford Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.
Spencer Massey paced Top Fuel with a track record run of 3.775 seconds (326.79 mph). It was his first No. 1 qualifying effort of the season and his first at Bristol.
“Having the No. 1 spot being qualifying, leading the points or being the winner after an event, it’s always a plus,” Massey said. “We wanted to have good data getting down the track. Obviously, qualifying No. 1 was awesome.”
With track temperatures 40 degrees higher on Saturday afternoon than on Friday night, Massey knew his qualifying time was safe. The Saturday qualifying sessions became more about race set-ups.
“Today was a little tricky condition because it was hot,” said Massey, a 30-year-old Texan. “Everybody was struggling to get down the race track. We backed it down enough where we ran a 3.94, but we got down the race track. It should be very similar race conditions, but I’m ready and I have confidence.”
Del Worsham picked up his first Funny Car No. 1 qualifying award of the season and his first at Bristol with a track-record elapsed time of 4.008 seconds and 314.83 mph.
Worsham, a 43-year-old California driver who the won the 2011 NHRA Top Fuel championship and then served as crew chief for Alexis Dejoria a year ago, became the eighth different No. 1 qualifier in the Funny Car ranks this season.
“The competition this year is amazing,” Worsham said. “Our first-round race (against Robert Hight) could easily be a final-round race next weekend. I thought when I won the Top Fuel championship in 2011 it couldn’t be more competitive, but I believe Funny Car actually is more competitive this season.”
Defending Funny Car champion Jack Beckman, who set a new track record record for speed at 317.05 was the No. 2 qualifier, followed by Matt Hagan, who matched Beckman’s speed record.
Mike Edwards, looking for his fifth straight Thunder Valley Nationals win, led Pro Stock qualifying with a track records of 6.632 seconds and 208.23 mph in his Chevrolet Camaro. It was the 55-year-old Oklahoma driver’s ninth pole of the season and a milestone 50th of his career.
“I’ve been trying to reach 50 for a long time,” Edwards said. “(My wife) Lisa and I have endured this for 30-some years and to have 50 No. 1 qualifiers in this class with today’s competition is phenomenal. I’m so happy. That was one of my goals starting out this year and we did it way faster than I thought we were going to do it. It’s a blessing, just an awesome feeling for me.”
Defending Pro Stock champion Allen Johnson of Greeneville, who had won the pole for the previous three years at Bristol, wound up second 6.645 (207.85) in his Dodge Avenger. Johnson lost to Edwards in a dead-heat in last year’s Pro Stock final, but will try to earn a first win at his home track today.
“We were trying to go for it that last run and kind of overpowered the track,” Johnson said. “For the weekend, we’ve got to feel good. We closed the gap on Mike a little more and I think we have a great car for race day. I have real high hopes.”
Spectator gates open at 8:30 a.m. today with eliminations to start at noon.

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