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Adventurous day for local entries at Thunder Valley Nationals

Jeff Birchfield • Jun 16, 2018 at 8:34 PM

BRISTOL — There were mixed results for local drivers Saturday at the NHRA Fitzgerald USA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

Roan Mountain driver Tim Freeman will start in today's Pro Stock eliminations after going 6.744 seconds at 202.94 miles per hour in his Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro. He improved his top speed during Saturday qualifying by going 203.12 mph.

He will face defending race champion Alex Laughlin in the first round of Sunday eliminations.

Greeneville driver Allen Johnson, now retired from Pro Stock competition, didn't have any better luck in the new Factory Stock Showdown class. Johnson lost in the first round of eliminations in his purple Dodge Challenger.

He was beaten on a holeshot with a .080 reaction time, slower than opponent Bill Skillman, and then went down the track with a speed of 160.37 mph.

Barry Brown from Blountville advanced to the third round of Top Dragster eliminations, but his son, Carson, failed to qualify.

With his third pass at 7.145 seconds (183.52 mph), Carson Brown was well off his 6.66-second dial-in. Barry had no trouble in qualifying, going over 200 mph on all three passes and getting close to his dial-in on the final two runs.

SCARY RIDE

Tommy Lee lost the brakes and the chutes didn't deploy on his race car during the first Pro Stock qualifying run on Saturday. His car was going at an estimated 190 mph before going into the sand trap and finally being caught by the catch net, putting the car straight up before it came to rest on all four wheels.

Lee, a former IHRA Pro Stock winner who lived in Kingsport for 19 years before moving to Statesville, N.C., to take a job as a tuner for the Montecalvo race team, said the brakes on his car still had pressure, but didn't perform as needed. After an emotional reunion with his family in the pits, he was complaining of neck and shoulder pain.

"I got on the brakes and the brakes didn't seem to do anything," Lee said. "I've stopped the car plenty of times without a chute, but the harder I pushed on the brake pedal, the faster it went. I knew it was going to hurt when I saw that catch net come up. But thank God the catch net was there, and for the safety that NHRA does, I was able to walk away."

MATCH RACE

"Papa John" Schnatter drove his gold 1971 Chevrolet Camaro to a win over three-time Top Fuel World Champion Antron Brown in a special exhibition match race to benefit the Infinite Hero Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of wounded war heroes and their families.

Schnatter's Camaro got loose at the stat, but he quickly recovered and powered past Brown before the finish line. The race preceeded a $20,000 donation to the Infinite Hero Foundation.

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